5 factors to consider when buying a youth baseball bat

Writen by: David Morgan

Choosing a bat for your son can be quite a challenge, especially if they are completely new to baseball. Buying the right bat requires not only an understanding of your son’s hitting ability, but also knowledge in some of the league’s rules. Additionally, baseball bats come in different weights, sizes and materials meet various set standards and personal preferences.

Following a few tips and guidelines, you can pick the right bat for your son all the time. Here are 5 things you should keep should keep in mind.

1. Legality

Depending on the type of league your son plays in, you might be required to have the bat stamped with the official supplier’s logo. The idea is to make sure that the bat meets the required length, barrel size, material and a knob. Confirm with your son’s league or coach before purchasing any bat for your son to make sure it meets all the legal requirements. 

Additionally, rules differ for different age groups; this means that if you have two sons, you should not assume that legal requirements are same for both. Youth baseball bats are governed universally by the 1.15BPF (Bat Performance Factor). When buying the bat, check out for the 1.15BPF number, which is a measure of how fast the ball comes off the bat.

2. Material

When it comes to choosing a bat, there are two main materials; metal and wood. Wood bats are often used by professionals during training and practice, or during wood bat leagues. Metal bats come in aluminum, alloy and composite.

Aluminum and alloy bats can be used straight out of the wrapper. This means that you do not require break-in time. They last longer, are effective in any temperature and tend to be cheaper compared to composite bats. 

Composite bats on the other hand produce lesser vibration on the hands; this reduces the tingling sensation after miss-hits. As mentioned, they tend to be more expensive and do need a break-in period –about 100-150 bits. There is also a hybrid version typically made of composite handles to minimize vibration and aluminum barrels that requires no break-in time.

That said, how the bat feels in a player’s hands is much more critical than any material review. It is therefore advisable to allow your son to make a few practice swings with the bats of his right weight and length before you make a decision on the material. Ideally, the material should feel natural in your youngster’s hands. Don’t forget to have him put on his batting gloves during testing to give the true fell.

3. Length

When choosing bat size for your youngster, his weight, height and age play an important role. Weigh and measure your son before you start bat shopping as this will help you when using the sizing chart. Be sure to pick a size that is recommended for your sons measurements. You can however pick a slightly longer or shorter bat depending on your son’s skills. For instance, longer bats increase the ability to reach balls, but require more strength to swing and control them.

4. Weight

A heavier bat offer more mass and force to hit the ball to a greater distance. However, choosing bat that is too heavy can slow your son’s swings and decrease the hitting power. The idea is to choose the heaviest bat that your son can easily swing if he needs power. Generally, choose a lighter bat if your son is smaller with less muscles and a heavier one in he has more strength. 

5. Handles and grips

Bats generally taper from the wide barrel end to the thinner handle end. A thicker handle offers more stability to the batters and absorbs a little more shock on miss-hits. A thinner handle on the other hand allows a player to move their hands quicker. In some leagues, youth baseball bats are required to have knobs at the handle end to prevent the bat from slipping out during hard swings. This prevents other children and spectators from being hit.

Conclusion

Experienced, stronger youths use heavier bats with thinner handles and smaller barrels. If your son is a beginner or an intermediate, you should go for lighter bats with thicker handles and bigger barrels. The rule of thumb for choosing the right weight is to have your kid hold the bat out in front on him and hold it up for 15-20 seconds. If he can comfortably do this without shaking his arm, then the bat is likely the right size.

 

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