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Tips for Buying a Bat

By Nate Wotruba, 03/11/17, 9:15PM CST

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Long past are the days where your teams Coach showed up with a bag full of bats and the majority of the team used the same bat. 

Long past are the days where your teams Coach showed up with a bag full of bats and the majority of the team used the same bat.  The evolution of bat technology has changed the bat industry and now most kids have a couple of bats that they tote along to games and practices. 

Buying the right bat can be challenging. There are many brands, types, barrel sizes, lengths, and weights. We see many kids with a bat that is too long or too heavy for their height and weight.  Or worse yet, you’ve spent money on a bat that has the wrong barrel size for your league.

Buying a bat doesn’t have to be so challenging.  Prior to bat shopping you’ll want to know what your league allows for:

  • TypeComposite, Hybrid, or Alloy
  • Barrel size – 2 ¼”  or 2 ⅝”
  • Drop – 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

After determining the appropriate type, barrel size, and drop the next step is to measure your child. 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

Based on your child's measurements you can use the chart below as a guide to determine the appropriate bat length.

Weight/Height 3'5"- 3'8" 3'9" - 4' 4'1"- 4'4" 4'5"- 4'-8" 4'9"- 5' 5'1"- 5'-4" 5'5"- 5'-8" 5'9"- 6' 6'1"- Over'
Under 60 lbs 27" 28" 29" 29"          
61 - 70 lbs 27" 28" 29" 30" 30"        
71 - 80 lbs 28" 28" 29" 30" 30" 31"      
81 - 90 lbs 28" 29" 29" 30" 30" 31"      
91 - 100 lbs 29" 29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 31"    
101 - 110 lbs 29" 29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 32"    
111 - 120 lbs 29" 29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 32"    
121 - 130 lbs   30" 30" 30" 31" 32" 32" 33"  
131 - 140 lbs   30" 30" 30" 31" 32" 32" 33" 33"
141 - 150 lbs   30" 30" 31" 31" 32" 33" 33" 33"
151 - 160 lbs   30" 31" 31" 31" 32" 33" 33" 34"
161 - 170 lbs     31" 31" 32" 32" 33" 33" 34"
171 - 180 lbs       31" 32" 32" 33" 34" 34"
Over 180 lbs           33" 33" 34" 34"

 

You can use the chart below as a quick cheat sheet to remember the differences between composite, hybrid, and alloy bat types.

Composite

Hybrid

Alloy

BREAK IN: BREAK IN: BREAK IN:
Requires 150-200 hits to break in  Ready out of the wrapper Ready out of the wrapper
CONDITIONS: CONDITIONS: CONDITIONS:
Not recommended for use in temperatures below 65F Can be used in any temperature Can be used in any temperature
SWEET SPOT: SWEET SPOT: SWEET SPOT:
Larger sweet spot and more "pop" Larger sweet spot than pure alloy, smaller sweet spot than pure composite Smaller sweet spot
VIBRATION: VIBRATION: VIBRATION:
Reduced vibration and less sting with miss-hit balls Reduced vibration and less sting with miss-hit balls More vibration and intense sting from miss-hit balls
SOUND: SOUND: SOUND:
Sounds like the "crack" of a tree branch Satisfaction of the classic "ping" sound Satisfaction of the classic "ping" sound

 

As you may have expected, composite bats are typically the most expensive of the three material types.  That doesn't always make it the right choice for your child; length, weight, and drop are as important as the type of material.

Here are a couple of key differences between one and 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 have less vibration.