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Choosing the right bat for Softball.

In the end it’s all about personal choice!

With the technology available today there should not be “bad” cars. Enough research went in over the years to make cars safer, more reliable. more efficient, more powerful etc. Challenge is when you add all these features the price go up. We compare cars based on our budget i.e. top range budget would be looking at Mercedes, BMW, Audi while a limited budget might be looking at KIA, Ford, Nissan for a smaller, compact as a more affordable option.

Similar in Softball you have all the top manufacturers normally bringing out 3 options for each new season in the composite range, for example Louisville Slugger has Xeno, LXT and PXT for composite and Diva and Quest in Aluminium.

Different types to suite all budgets.

You can have more than one bat, check out the different options, mom has more than one handbag, trick is to get her to use some of the handbag money to buy you another bat !

Let’s review the options and methods available to select a softball bat:

  1. Material
  2. Construction
  3. League options
  4. Cost
  5. Length
  6. Weight
  7. Drop
  8. Player Measurement
  9. Composite v Aluminium

1.  Material:

In essence we have 3 material options:

  • Aluminium
  • Hybrid
  • Composite (which is known for being a material that the ball jumps off of, having more Pop)

2. Construction

1 piece, 2 piece and sometimes even 3 piece construction:

ONE-PIECE BATS VS. TWO-PIECE BATS

  • One Piece Bats: Typically stiffer and more balanced. The one piece design does not allow for more vibration control, so they will often have a lot of vibration on miss-hit balls.
  • Two Piece Bats: Tend to have more flex and less vibration.

3. League options

In South Africa we follow the WBSC rules and bats need to have the following certifications for Softball:

 

4. Cost

This is normally the biggest factor, a player starting out with softball or a player on a budget will normally start with Aluminium. A player looking to hit the ball further and with more budget available will go for the Composite.

Aluminium bats are much cheaper than composite but doesn’t have the pop or bounce of the bat as what a composite has.

Type of player also determines what bat would be better suited, big hitters go for composite. Short game i.e. bunter’s don’t need a composite, an aluminium will do just fine.

5. Length

The length of the bat determines how close or far you stand from home plate.

The bats normally go up with 1″ increments so a 32″ or 81.28 cm to a 33″ or 83.82 will give you a 1″ or 2.54 cm advantage regarding the plate.

Softball bats sizes range from 26 – 34″

Youth is normally 26 – 32″

High School/college/adult 32 – 34″

Depending on the build of the player a taller youth player might decide to use a 33″ instead of recommended/average size 32″

6. Weight

The weight of the bats normally range from light 16oz (453.592g) to heavy 30 oz (850.486g).

Again the build of a player and style should be the guideline when choosing the right weight.

How would you know if your current bat is too heavy, light or just right? Sounds a bit like Goldilocks and the 3 bears doesn’t it?

Where you normally hit the bat against roughly the same paced pitchers would be a good indication:

Direction of:

1st to half of 2nd base means you’re late on the shot, heavy bat

half of 2nd to short stop direction means you hit the ball spot on centre – right weight

between short and 3rd means you’re early on the shot – bat too light

I know there are many factors involved i.e. speed of hands etc so comment above is just a rough indication assuming we keep other factors constant.

7. Drop

I don’t mean dropping the ball or bat… or the sweets from Netherlands!

WHAT IS BAT DROP?

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.

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 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 (Inertia is the resistance, of any physical object, to any change in its velocity. This includes changes to the object’s speed, or direction of motion) behind it.
  • If you swing a short, heavy bat, you will not have the fastest bat speed, but will have plenty of inertia.

Deciding on the length and weight of the bat you swing is a personal choice – you should try combining what is comfortable with what style of player you want to be.

If you envision yourself being a contact player, playing for safe hits to reach 1st base i.e. bunt, slap etc, you won’t worry as much about losing inertia with your swing, but if you want to be a power hitter and swing for the fences, you’ll want the inertia you would get from the shorter, heavier bat.

You can refer to the chart below to give you a ballpark idea of what bat drop you should be using. Keep in mind that the chart below can be used to find bat drop for both baseball and softball bats and it can be used by both adult and youth players:

FASTPITCH SOFTBALL BAT SIZING BY AGE

Fastpitch softball bat sizing chart by age. As players get older, the bats get longer and heavier, with a lower bat drop (difference between length and weight).

Fastpitch 2 1/4″ Softball Bats

Age Under 7  8-9  10-11  12-13  14 and Over
Length 24″-26″  26″-29″  28″-31″  29″-33″  31″-34″
Drop (-13.5)-(-10)  (-13.5)-(-10)  (-13)-(-8)  (-12)-(-8)  (-10)-(-8)

8. Player Measurement

MEASURING 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:

Step 1 – Your length & weight

Step 2 – Check against bat suggestion chart

This measurement will tell you where you should be looking on the chart below:

Weight Kg/Height m 1.04- 1.118 1.14 – 1.22 1,24 – 1.32 1.35 – 1.42 1.45- 1.52 1.55- 1.63 1.65- 1.72 1.75- 1.83 1.85- Over’
Under 27.22Kg 27″ 28″ 29″ 29″
Up to 31 Kg 27″ 28″ 29″ 30″ 30″
Up to 36 Kg 28″ 28″ 29″ 30″ 30″ 31″
Up to 40 Kg 28″ 29″ 29″ 30″ 30″ 31″
Up to 45 Kg 29″ 29″ 30″ 30″ 31″ 31″ 31″
Up to 50 Kg 29″ 29″ 30″ 30″ 31″ 31″ 32″
Up to 55 Kg 29″ 29″ 30″ 30″ 31″ 31″ 32″
Up to 60 Kg 30″ 30″ 30″ 31″ 32″ 32″ 33″
Up to 65 Kg 30″ 30″ 30″ 31″ 32″ 32″ 33″ 33″
Up to 70 Kg 30″ 30″ 31″ 31″ 32″ 33″ 33″ 33″
Up to 75 Kg 30″ 31″ 31″ 31″ 32″ 33″ 33″ 34″
Up to 80 Kg 31″ 31″ 32″ 32″ 33″ 33″ 34″
Up to 85 Kg 31″ 32″ 32″ 33″ 34″ 34″
Over 90 Kg 33″ 33″ 34″ 34″

9. COMPOSITE BATS VS. ALLOY BATS VS. HYBRID BATS

Comparison   Composite   Aluminium
Cost   R3500 – R7500   R950 – R1800
Break in   150 – 200 hits   Ready
Playing Conditions   Not recommended for below <18 deg   Any temperature
Sweet spot   Larger sweet spot and more “Pop”   Smaller sweet spot
Vibration   Reduced vibration and less “sting” with miss hit balls   More vibration and intense sting on miss hit balls
Sound   Like the “crack” of a tree   Distinctive “ping” sound

Deciding which type of bat is best for you can be a challenging task. Here are some tips on each type of bat to help you make the best decision for your budget and playing style.

COMPOSITE BATS

Composite bats are made out of a layered material similar to carbon fiber, which makes it easy to control the weight distribution of the bat. Manufacturers can make bats balanced (weight is evenly distributed) or end-loaded (the bat has more weight at the end of the barrel, giving it a heavier swing weight), depending on the style.

Pros of Composite Bats

  • Reduced vibration to the hands, minimizing sting from a miss-hit ball.
  • Tend to have a larger sweet spot and more ”pop”.

Cons of Composite Bats

  • Often more expensive than alloy bats, since the manufacturing process is more complex.
  • Using a composite in temperatures below 18 degrees will decrease performance and can cause cracking.
  • Requires a break-in time. Remember that the pop won’t come until a composite bat is broken in. To break it in, follow these tips:
    • Hit between 150-200 hits with a regular baseball or softball, not a rubber batting cage ball.
    • Slightly rotate the bat each time you hit the ball, so you evenly break it in – this ensures your bat lasts a long time.

The above is the only recommended way to break in your composite bat.

Methods such as hitting your bat against a tree or rolling it are not recommended and will damage the bat and void the manufacturer warranty.

You can find more information by reading our step-by-step directions on how to break in a composite bat.

ALLOY BATS

Alloy bats, also called metal and aluminum bats, have been around longer than composite.

Pros of Alloy Bats

  • Tend to be less expensive than composite bats.
  • Do not require a break-in time, meaning they’re at their prime right out the wrapper.
  • Often last longer and even when they get damaged, they typically dent, rather than crack. This means they can still be used once damaged, where as once it is cracked, a composite bat can’t be. As long as the bat is not damaged to the extent where a barrel ring can no longer fit around the barrel, the bat will still be considered legal.

Cons of Alloy Bats

    Tend to have a smaller sweet spot and less ”pop.”

A good rule of thumb is the more expensive the alloy, the longer the sweet spot is and the better balanced the bat will be.

Still need help? Visit our retail store at Loftus Versfeld Stadium or call one of our service team members today!

By |2019-02-04T12:49:51+00:00February 4th, 2019|Categories: Featured, Softball|Tags: , |0 Comments

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