While your child might want to play with the same baseball bat as his favorite Major League Baseball player, you should probably go the exact opposite route. All of the specifications that make a bat perfect for a professional player will most likely make a bat too unwieldy, and possibly even dangerous, for a youngster. Knowing the different characteristics of baseball bats and how they affect a swing will help you pick the perfect bat for your “Baby Ruth.”
Talk to your coach before buying a youth baseball bat
While the pros play with wood, virtually no other level of player uses a non-metallic bat today. Collegiate men and women, slow- and fast-pitch softball players and Little Leaguers have all gravitated toward aluminum bats. They are lighter, more maneuverable and don’t break like wood. In fact, Major League Baseball is considering banning the increasingly popular maple bats used by the pros because of their tendency to shatter and splinter on off-hits.
The barrel is the large end of the bat. Professionals, with years of experience and superior hand-eye coordination, gravitate toward smaller barrels so they can maintain bat head speed. Children, however, will benefit from a larger hitting area, and with the lighter material of metal bats, a larger-barrel bat will be a better choice.
The taper of a bat is the narrowing of the bat from one end to the other. Pros like a narrower taper, with a thinner handle and grip, because it decreases weight and the narrower handle lets them flex their wrist for more control of the bat. Less taper will give youngsters a bigger grip and more stability, and mis-hits will hurt less because more material absorbs the shock, rather than the batter’s hands.
At the narrow end of youth bats, a large protrusion helps kids keep their hands on the bat and prevents it from flying from their hands, possibly hitting a spectator, teammate or opposing player.
A lighter bat has less mass, but it’s easier to swing, creating more acceleration. Lighter bats are appropriate for children who have less strength. A stronger child can benefit from a bat with a bit more weight. Refer to the sizing chart available at most locations that sell new bats to select the right weight bat for your slugger. A few practice cuts in the store will help your child pick a bat that feels right for her. Links to two sizing charts are provided below.
A longer bat creates more acceleration of the barrel, which takes longer to get to the ball than a shorter bat. However, this can lead to a loss of control and more weight, so shorter bats are a better choice for kids. Sizing charts will allow you to pick the best bat length for your child, based on his height.
A leather grip will absorb more moisture, while a grip made from rubber or other synthetic material will absorb more shock.
Depending on which league your child enters, a bat might be illegal for play. Check with the team coach, who should have a list of the specific bats that are legal or illegal.
How To Buy A Baseball/Softball Bat (Includes sizing chart)
Choosing a Baseball Bat (Includes sizing chart)