This article originally appeared on BaseballMonkey.com
New technology has drastically changed the way baseball and softball bats have been produced over the last decade or so. Bats are no longer made of just aluminum, but can also be made of composite, which is known for being a material that the ball jumps off of. There are also strict regulations on what bats can be used depending on the age level of the player. Buying a new baseball or softball bat can be overwhelming for some, but the following information will help make the entire process simpler. With this guide, you’ll:
- Discover the proper way to measure yourself for a new bat
- Learn how to measure your child for a new bat
- Know how to choose the proper weight for your new bat
- Learn about the recent changes to bat sizes and regulations
- Understand the differences between bat types and materials
How to Measure Yourself for a Bat
Although there are many different ways to measure for the best baseball bat length, the best way is to choose what you feel comfortable swinging. A general rule to follow is never go up more than an inch at a time. This makes it easier to adjust to your new bat without drastically changing your swing. If you’re new to the game or want to re-size yourself, follow the steps below to learn how to properly measure yourself:
1. Measure from the center of your chest to the tips of your index finger, making sure to have your arm straight out to your side:
This measurement will tell you where you should be looking on the chart below:
After you’ve selected the proper bat size to use by calculating all the numbers and referring to the bat length chart, there are some additional ways to determine whether or not it is the right size:
2. Put the bat to your side and as long as your palm reaches the handle, you have the right sized bat.
3. Put the knob of the bat at the center of your chest with the bat facing outward - if you can reach your arm out and grab the barrel of the bat, it’s the right size.
How to Measure Children for a Bat
If you’re shopping for a bat for your kid, the process of measuring will be a little different. If your young player is between 3’ and 3’4”, start with a 26-inch bat and increase the bat size 1 inch for every 4-to-5 inches that they grow. The following steps are the ideal process for determining the correct bat size for children:
1. Measure his/her height - be sure you measure with his/her baseball cleats on
2. Compare him/her to the bat - stand a bat up next to your child. The bat should reach, but not exceed, your child’s hip. If it reaches past his/her hip area, it’s going to be too long to swing
3. Weigh them - weight is a contributing factor to which bat he/she should swing because the little league bat size chart uses a combination of weight and height to determine the best bat choice
- In general, children under 60 pounds should swing a bat between 26 and 29 inches long
- If your child weighs more than 70 pounds, his/her bat should range from 28 to 32 inches in length
How to Choose the Correct Baseball or Softball Weight
- Before looking at weights, it’s important to first understand a little bit more:
- Bat weight is measured by the minus or drop weight
- Drop weight is the difference between the length and weight of the bat, so a bat that is 30 inches long and has a drop weight of -10 will weigh 20 ounces
- The bigger the drop weight is, the lighter the bat will weigh
Remember that only high school baseball bats and college baseball bats are regulated and must have a drop of no more than -3.
If you are a strong player, you may assume you want a heavier bat. This is not necessarily the case. You’ll want to swing a bat that still allows you to generate the ideal amount of bat speed through the zone. Finding this balance could be difficult at first, but once you do, you’ll be hitting the ball farther and harder than you could have imagined.
After finding a baseline for the length of the bat, it’s important to incorporate the length of the bat into deciding on the weight. For youth baseball and softball, the taller the child, the longer the bat should be. They may not be strong enough to use a heavier bat, so they would have a bat with a larger weight drop.
It’s important to choose the right balance between length and weight because it makes a difference in the physics of the swing. For instance, consider the following:
- If you have a long, light bat, you can swing it very fast, but it will not have much inertia behind it.
- If you swing a short, heavy bat, you will not have the fastest bat speed, but will have plenty of inertia.