How to Pick the Right Baseball Bat
At The Hitting Vault, we don’t talk a lot about how to pick the right baseball bat. We preach the importance of elite swing movements and will take that over the hottest bat on the market any day of the week.
We know many of our members at The Vault and players out there have to use a bat to damage, so let’s talk about how to pick the right baseball bat.
When it comes to picking the right baseball bat it ultimately comes down to feel. If you are not comfortable swinging the bat or it makes your swing feel different, then it is not meant for you. As a hitter, the last thing you want to feel going up to the plate is that your bat is dragging through the zone or it doesn’t feel good in your hands. For more information on feel, check out our post “What hitting with a wood bat can teach you.”
As you are probably well aware, baseball bats come in all different weights, lengths, and barrel sizes. Try picking up a bat from the store or borrow a teammates bat to try out and ask yourself how it feels. Take a couple of dry swings, or use it for a round in batting practice and see how it feels when you swing it. Ultimately, feel is what matters most. If you want to go by the books, then let’s dive into that a bit more.
And if you decide to take some of your swings with wood, read about your options in this complete guide to wood bats.
Bat Sizes and Regulations
There are two main barrel sizes, for youth bats, they should be using a 2 ¼ inch barrel, and as they get older, that barrel will grow to 2 ⅝ inches. The three governing bodies that regulate bats are BBCOR, USSSA, and USA Baseball. BBCOR is the most restricting governing body as you can only use -3 bats and the barrel size has to be less than 2 ⅝ inches. BBCOR is also what you will be using in high school and college.
USSSA, or the United States Sports Specialty Association, allows a wide range of weights and barrel sizes and typically monitors the players 11-13 years old.
USA Baseball is a new bat regulation that has been adopted by Little League, Pony League, Babe Ruth, and many more. It allows a maximum of 2 ⅝ inch barrel in their participating leagues and has no weight restrictions.
Youth Baseball Bats
According to Baseball Monkey, there are certain ways that you should select a bat size for your child. Starting at a young age, if your child is between 3’ and 3’4”, you would want to start with a 26 inch bat, and for every 4-5 inches that your child grows, you should add one inch to the bat. This logic has traction — if we look at Louisville Slugger they maintain the same standpoint as baseball monkey, and use that logic with the bats that they put into the marketplace.
According to most research that you’ll find online, the beginning length for a bat for a young player should be 26 or 27 inches. A simple guideline when measuring the bat size for your a youth player is to have your player stand in baseball cleats and put the bat next to them, standing the bat straight up.
From the ground up, the bat should reach the player’s hip, but not going further than that. If it passes the hip, then we can generally say that the bat is too long to swing effectively.
So you have the idea of what the length should be, what about the weight? Generally speaking, the lighter the bat, the more bat control and bat speed you will have. The heavier the bat, the more power you get. So youth bats range from -13 to -7 – -which is known as “drop” — is the difference between the length and weight of the bat. For example, if the bat is 27 inches, and it weighs 14 ounces, then it is a -13, or a drop 13.
The most common weights are -12, -10, -9, -8, -5, and -3. As you get older and stronger, your bat will get heavier and heavier, moving from a -12 all the way down to a -3 by the time you reach high school. For weight, it depends on what your player wants, if they want more bat speed and control, steer more towards a -12, or if they want some more pop and power the -10 is the best choice.
Teen and Adult Bats
Unfortunately, you cannot use a 27 inch and 15-ounce bat forever. So as you grow in height and in weight, you are going to begin using a -5 and a -3 drop bat. In my career, I skipped the -5 bat, and went straight to -3 in high school. Once you get to the -3 bat, it is incredibly important to make a decision between more power or more bat control. This comes down to what kind of player you are. If you are a lanky middle infielder or outfielder, then you should probably go with more bat control. If you are a power hitting corner infielder, outfielder, or catcher, then you might want to add an inch of length and an ounce to maximize pop.
For a great resource on the standard bat size for your height and weight, check out the chart below. This chart gives you a good sense of what size of bat hitters typically use at a certain weight and height. Picking a length could also depend on the talent in your league. If your a high school or college player and pitchers are throwing gas, then you might want to go with a 32oz or a 33oz so you can catch up to it, but if they are not throwing all that hard, then you might be able to hop in the box with a 33oz or 34oz bat. Remember, it’s all about feel and putting yourself in the best position to succeed on GAME DAY.
When it comes to picking the right baseball bat in the later stages, it is a less complicated process because you likely already have already figured out what you are comfortable using and what your preferences are. If you’re not, your job is to find your comfort zone as quickly as possible.
When picking out a baseball bat websites often have sections that go into detail similar to this article. It is not an easy process at the start, but once you select a bat and preference, you probably are going to stick with that through your career. Why? Because you will know what kind of hitter you are so you can trend towards a certain feel of the bat.
In order to maximize your value with the bat to a team and truly unlock your power, get started with a Hitting Vault membership.