Would a tennis player step onto the court with a hockey stick? Would a basketball player try to shoot a bowling ball? Would a football player take the field in a Speedo and shaved legs? Of course not. Having the right gear and equipment is crucial to every athlete’s success. However, for baseball players, finding the right gear can be tricky. For bats there are seemingly infinite options, sizes, and colors to choose from, which is why we’ve created a guide to find your perfect bat.
When looking at bats, it’s helpful to understand their anatomy. There are five main components that make up a bat. There’s the grip where you hold your hands, and the knob, which keeps your hands in place when you swing. Extending up from the grip is the taper, the extremely skinny portion of the barrel. The barrel is the sweet spot of the bat, the place where dingers are born, and doubles are made. Finally, the bat is topped off with an end cap, which can help increase control and limit weight.
When it comes to picking the perfect bat, there are two main things to focus on: length and weight. Finding the perfect combination of these two will ensure you can step to the plate with confidence.
Bats are measured in inches from the knob to the end cap with the standard range of bat lengths being 24 to 34 inches. Length is all about covering the strike zone – the longer the bat the easier it is to hit pitches on the outer part of the plate. That doesn’t mean you should just grab a 34” bat and hit the cages though. The longer the bat, the heavier it is which can mess up your swing and cause you to be late and struggle against inside pitches. The length of bat you use typically correlates with your height. The taller you are, the bigger the strike zone, thus the longer the bat needs to be. Check out our handy guide below to see how you can find the perfect length for you.
When looking at a bat’s weight, you might come across the term “weight drop” which is closely related. A bat’s weight is measured in ounces and weight drop refers to the length of the bat minus its weight in ounces. For example, if a bat is 31” and has a weight of 28 ounces, then it has a weight drop of -3. There are regulations governing how much weight drop you can have on a bat, so make sure to talk to your coach about which bats are allowed. League rules vary by age and state, but general rules are as follows: ages 4-6 use a tee ball bat, 7-13 use a USA or USSSA certified bats, and 14-18 uses BBCOR bats.
Below is a chart that can give you a starting point for finding the right bat based on your height and weight. Remember, the best way to tell how well you like a bat is to practice with it against live pitching.
You’ll also want to consider bat construction and material. For example, one-piece bats are a singular piece of metal molded into a bat. They generally have a stiff feel that barely flexes when contact is made resulting in more power. Bigger, stronger players who have a faster bat speed make the best use of these bats. A two-piece bat is built by bonding a handle and barrel together. This process allows the bat to flex more which is perfect for contact hitters who are looking for a little more power in their game.
The aluminum vs composite choice is a little simpler. Composite bats are made using layered material which results in a larger sweet spot but requires a longer break-in period. The process for making this type of bat is more complex which leads it to be more expensive. Aluminum bats have been around longer than composite bats and, though they have a smaller sweet spot, there is no break-in period and they tend to be more durable.
When shopping for your perfect bat make sure to check out Eastbay. Our large selection ensures that no matter what length, weight, piece, or material you decide on we will have a bat for you. Head to eastbay.com now to start browsing.