Youth Baseball Bat Comparison
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Youth Baseball Bat Buying Guide
What is a Youth Baseball Bat?
There are a surprising amount of factors that go into choosing the perfect youth baseball bat. Whether your child is just getting started with the fun game of baseball or your high schooler is working towards a college scholarship on their baseball team, having the right bat that is perfect for them can make a difference in their batting performance.
The choices available in youth baseball bats can quickly become overwhelming and confusing unless you know exactly what features to look for. In this buyer’s guide we have included the most important factors involved in choosing the best bat for your player. Armed with this information, you will be able to confidently make a choice, knowing that the bat you choose will help your player perform to the best of their ability. A great bat can’t turn a player into a champion all on its own. But having the right bat can improve their hitting drastically, especially when the bat is comfortable in their hands.
Baseball bats of all kinds and shapes came about in the 1850s. It was a very new sport and batters would make their own bats out of all kinds of things. They varied in length and weight, were round or flat and many other variables. It didn’t take long to figure out that rounded barrels worked much better for hitting.
Since bats we’re being made in all shapes and sizes a rule came about in 1859 that bats couldn’t be any larger than 2.5” in diameter at the barrel end. Length didn’t matter at that time, but that also changed in 1869 when the rule was added that no bat could be over 42” long. That is the same rule that still stands today when it comes to length. There wasn’t a rule in place, however, about the shape of a bat, so some players used rounded barrels and others used flat surface bats, especially for bunting.
The first official commercial bat to come onto the scene was the Louisville Slugger. This happened in 1884. How did the Louisville Slugger come to be? A 17 year old named John Hillerich was watching Pete Browning, a Louisville player get extremely frustrated when he broke his favorite bat during a game. The 17 year old offered to make Pete browning another bat since he and his father were woodworkers.
Pete Browning accepted and went with the young man to the woodworking shop where he selected a piece of white ash. Browning supervised the whole process as Hillerich made his bat. The very next day He used the new bat and went three for three! In no time at all the Hillerich family was in the bat business as word spread about where Browning had gotten his custom made bat.
After awhile they started added the now very well known and famous “Louisville Slugger” trademark to each bat and they are still going strong today. In 1924, the first metal bat was introduced by William Shroyer and was given a patent. Even though the patent was received in 1924, metal bats were not seen in baseball games until 1970. They have since grown in popularity, although wood bats are still used in professional ball.
It wasn’t until 2001 that Maple bats became a hot. It was all thanks to Barry Bonds who hit a record 73 home runs in one season. When it was discovered that he was using a maple bat, they exploded in popularity and started being seen everywhere.
The Different Parts of a Bat
There are different parts that make up every bat. Although each part may look different according to the manufacturer or style of bat, they all have the same basic anatomy.
Barrel – The diameter around the top part of the bat is called the barrel. When a bat has a long barrel, the sweet spot (the perfect spot for the bat to connect with the ball to send it soaring) is more forgiving and larger, allowing for a bit of error on the hitter’s part. A small barrel has a small sweet spot but they offer lighter weight and faster speeds in the swing.
Grip – The grip of a bat is the handle covering. The best bat grips will be either leather or synthetic leather. This provides a more reinforced grip. If you’re looking for a grip that decreases sting in the palm of the hands when connecting with the ball opt for a rubber grip.
Taper – The taper of a bat indicates the diameter of the bat’s handle. When the taper is larger, the ball shock is reduced when the bat connects with the ball. In addition a larger taper adds weight to the bat which some players like. A smaller taper reduces the weight (lighter or heavier is mostly a player preference) and also allows for faster wrist rotation when swinging the bat.
Different Types of Bats
There are several different materials that bats are typically made of. Each type has different strengths and positives about it as well as potential drawbacks. Which material you choose will depend on several factors that include:
- Individual preference
- Is the player a casual player?
- What is the age of the player?
- Do they play competitively?
The answers to these questions help formulate the type and material of bat that will enhance the performance of the player. We’ve outlined the different types and materials that bats are available in below.
Aluminum bats have become extremely popular with kids that play city league sports. In the majority of leagues, aluminum bats are required. They are lighter than traditional wooden bats and give the player, no matter how young, the ability to swing harder because of that lighter weight. Aluminum bats definitely provide more speed than wooden bats which is another reason they are so popular.
They are available in either single or double layer construction. If you’re looking for greater power and rebound, you’ll want to go with the double layer construction. Aluminum bats are made from a combination of alloys that will differ in weight and strength. Aluminum bats do not require any break-in periods the way wooden bats do.
Using the latest technology in bat design, composite bats are made from a combination of graphite, fiberglass and resin. These bats are even lighter than aluminum and give the hitter increased speed and power in their swing. Comparatively, they have the largest sweet spots of all the types of bats and have the best balance as well. The more you use a composite bat the better you get, so be prepared for a break-in period as you get used to it. These are not good choices to use in cold weather conditions.
Wood bats are still used by professionals and there are some leagues that are bat only but for the most part they have become more of a nostalgia thing rather than functional bat in little leagues and casual play. Wood bats still have a lot of benefits though. With a wooden bat you get more choices of taper and shape that can be customized to a player’s swing much more so than aluminum or composite. They are terrific tools for teaching kids proper swing form. One drawback to wood bats is that they have a tendency to break. In addition they don’t have as much hitting power as metal bats and have smaller sweet spots. Wood bats definitely require a break-in period.
Standards for Every Baseball Bat
There are a few different standards that apply to every youth baseball bat, regardless of the material it is made of. Those standards are:
The length of a bat is always measured in inches, the weight is always measured in ounces and then there is drop which everyone may not know about or understand. Drop is something that is figured by subtracting the weight of the bat from the length. Bats that have a larger drop will help the player increase their swing speed, while bats with smaller drops have more power behind the swing.
What is the Right Length and Weight Bat for Your Player?
There are two factors you’re going to look at when it comes to the right bat for your player; weight and length. If the bat is the right length but is too heavy for the hitter to swing, the right length will mean very little. These two factors go hand in hand to provide the player with the optimum bat to give them the best performance they can get.
In general the length of the bat will correlate with the age a bit. In addition, taller batters will require longer bats. The weight of the bat is also very important and can be tested by performing a very easy little test. Have the batter stand with the bat held out to the side at shoulder height. If they can’t keep their arm straight out and hold the bat at shoulder level to the count of ten, the bat is more than likely too heavy.
Below is a basic chart that gives the approximate proper length of bat for a player. This chart is based on age, so if you have a tall or short child for a specific age bracket, make adjustments accordingly. Once you find the right length, you can test out different weights with your child as well until you find the perfect combination.
- 5-7 yrs old – 24” to 26”
- 8-9 yrs old – 26”-28”
- 10-11 yrs old – 28”-30”
- 11-12 yrs old – 30”-32”
- 13-14 yrs old – 31”-32”
- 15-16 yrs old – 32”-33”
- 17 yrs old and up – 34”
Additional Batting Equipment
There are several pieces of equipment that go along with your new bat that can make your players performance even better. While they are not mandatory, they are items that go with a bat and can improve safety, grip, swing and performance.
- Batting gloves – Batting gloves have a definite function and most players, regardless of playing level, wear them. They have many purposes. They improve the quality of the grip on the bat, they protect the hands and help the player maintain a tight and controlled grip. Slipping, even slightly when hitting can ruin the swing completely and cost the player.
- Batting Helmets – this is a required piece of equipment in any youth baseball leagues, including school teams. It protects the players head from stray pitches by the pitcher. Getting hit in the head by a fast pitch ball can cause very serious injury which is why it is a requirement for team sports whether through city leagues or school teams.
- Bat bags – having a specific bag for your baseball bats can keep them in better condition longer and prevent gouges and breaks. There are tons of bat bags available for any length of bat so be sure to get one for your child’s bats.
- Training Aids – There are many different forms of training aids available that can help a player with their swing. Having training aids can help the batter gain more confidence as they improve their skills. The more they practice, the better batter they will become. Since some bats require break in periods, this is a good way to break in your new bat before games rather than in the middle of them.
Typical Cost of Bats
Bats will range anywhere from $25-$30 dollars all the up to $200 dollars or more. It is not necessary to spend a ton of money for a good bat if you look around and pay attention to the materials used, reviews that customers leave and the history of the manufacturer. It’s also false that just because a bat is expensive that it is the best bat to get. Do your homework and check each bat you’re interested in out and make your decision based on the factors we’ve outlined here not just the price.
Finding the perfect bat for your child can make a world of difference in how they play. The information in this buyer’s guide will help you choose the best bat that is the right length, the right material and the right weight for your child. There are many different companies that manufacture bats, so you have a lot of choices available. Figure out exactly what your child needs, what their playing level is and how often or serious they will be playing and narrow your choices from there. The bat you choose will become their favorite if you use the information here correctly and they will love it when it’s their turn to go up to bat.
- Brooklyn Crusher – http://www.coldsteel.com/
- Easton – http://ecx.images-amazon.com/
- Louisville Slugger – http://ecx.images-amazon.com/