How many times have you seen a professional baseball or softball player take a big cut and lose his/her bat into the stands? It's not that uncommon, and the simple fact that it happens to even professionals should make the importance of a bat grip or batting gloves even more obvious. Wrapping a bat is a relatively easy process that anyone can complete.
Bat Wraps—What Are They For?
The main reasons why you want to apply bat wraps to your bat are: to improve both your grip on the bat and the control you have during your swing. When you get your new bat, you'll notice that it often comes equipped with a thicker wrap already, but some players prefer to have a thinner wrap - the ultimate goal here is they'll be quicker at getting their bat through the strike zone. There are some companies that have adapted to this and have started to use thinner wraps, but it's not the standard. There are also those players who prefer a thicker wrap to absorb more of the shock or sting to their hands when contact is made. Bat grip is a matter of style and preference - one way isn't "right."
Now that you know why some players prefer a thin wrap and others prefer a thick wrap, let's look at how to tape a bat.
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How to Re-Grip a Bat
Before you begin the process, you'll want to decide how thick you want your wrap to be. Wraps come in three standard sizes: 0.5 mm, 1.1 mm, and 1.8 mm. Once you decide which size you want, you're ready to learn how to regrip a bat. You'll need the following tools to complete your wrapping process:
- Bat Tape
- Knife or Box Cutters
- Electrical Tape
You should read the instructions that come with the package, but for the most part, they'll be similar to what we discuss below:
1. If your bat has a wrap on the handle already, remove it by lifting the tape closest to barrel and unwinding it.
2. Remove your new wrap from the packaging and start by unpeeling the backing from the wrap.
3. The ends of the wrap should already be pre-cut at an angle. Start at the handle of the bat and begin by taping the angled edge against the knob on the handle.
4. Apply tension to the tape and slowly begin to wrap the tape around the handle.
Tip: use the design or perforations of the tape as a guide so you can evenly apply the tape to the handle.
5. Continue wrapping the tape around the handle until it has covered the amount of the bat you desire. If there is any tape remaining, take your knife and cut the excess.
6. Using your electrical tape, secure the end of the wrap closest to the barrel.
7. Some new wraps come with a sticker. If your wrap came with this, apply it to the top of the electrical tape and your bat will have a fresh new wrap.
Pine Tar—What Does it Do?
If you've ever watched a baseball game on TV, you've probably seen the players in the on-deck circle rubbing something onto the handle of their bat. Some players have a bunch of gunk on their helmets and a stain on the back of their shoulder. What you're looking at is pine tar. Traditionally, pine tar is applied only to wood bats - there are different ways you can apply it. The two main ways you would use pine tar are by using either:
- Pine tar sticks
- Special rags
Is Pine Tar Illegal in Baseball?
You'll want to check with league officials before you use any pine tar for bats you plan on swinging in games, since it's illegal in some leagues and legal in others. If it's legal, be sure to check regulations on how high the pine tar can go up your bat, as many baseball fans will remember the George Brett incident in 1983.