First of all, the most important thing it to choose a bat that is the appropriate size and weight for your player. A heavier bat is going to translate into slower bat speeds, and a lighter bat will give faster bat speeds. Longer bats will give more reach, but may be more difficult to swing. The most common error is for parents to go out and buy their child a new bat without consulting their coaches to see what they would recommend. Please keep in mind that teams will have a few team bats that your player will be able to use. This should give you an idea of what size works well for your player.
An appropriate bat size should be determined by several factors: the bat rules for the division your player is in, the player's height, and the player's strength. The bat rules for this season are laid out below. You should definitely use those rules when looking for a bat. Secondly, you should measure the height of the player. As a rule of thumb, when going up to a larger bat size, it is not a good idea to increase more than an inch in length at a time. There are charts that can be found online that give you an idea of what bat size a player needs based on height, weight, and age. (for example, www.baseballmonkey.com) These may give you a basic idea, but your choice should still depend on what your player is comfortable swinging. The best idea is to use team bats to determine what length and weight works best. If a player is having a hard time making contact, this may be because the bat is too heavy. A bat that is too heavy makes it harder to get adequate bat speed through the contact zone. If a player is late on pitches, he/she might benefit from a lighter bat.
You may notice that many bats have a "drop number" indicated on the barrel. (e.g. -3, -10, etc.) This is the difference in the length in inches and the weight in ounces. If a bat is 29 inches and weighs 26 ounces, it would be designated as -3 ("drop 3"). Bat rules for a division may include a maximum drop level.
For most ages, you will probably want to avoid wood bats for games. Beginning in the upper age groups, there will come a time when wood bats are required. However, it is more difficult to hit well with a wood bat, so if you can use a non-wood bat (especially in games) you probably should. When choosing among the different types of non-wood bats available for purchase, the two most common types are composite and alloy/aluminum. Composite are more expensive, and may offer a better feel when hitting. However, aluminum bats will also hit well, but are much less expensive. Basically, this choice has a lot to do with age level. Keep in mind that players may be growing a lot, and may need a different-sized bat every few seasons. This is another argument in favor of using team bats. Bats can be expensive, often around $300+, and it probably doesn't make a lot of sense to spend that kind of money on a bat that may only last a season or two. It is also an argument in favor of using more economical aluminum bats, especially at lower age levels.
Another important thing to look for when buying a bat is to make sure you are getting a proper bat for the sport you are playing. Softball bats are not appropriate for baseball, and vice versa. Also, T-ball bats will not be adequate for baseball. You will want to make sure you are buying a baseball bat for use in baseball. Baseballs are considerably harder and denser than softballs or the balls used for T-ball. As such, baseball bats need to be stronger than other bats.
Wood, bamboo and wood composite bats are permitted in all divisions.
Wood composite bats include wood bats with fiberglass sheathing and wood barreled bats with composite handles.
Wood composite bats do not include any bat that has any metallic component.
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