Choosing A Bat

“Is my daughter swinging the right bat?” is probably the most frequently asked question I get. Which, by the way is a great thing, because if you don’t ask –you won’t know! Let’s examine a few things before we get into the heart of the matter. First and foremost, let’s be realistic and know that by the end of this article, you still may not know if your daughter’s bat works for her. Without watching the little slugger in action, it’s difficult for me to pick out if there may be a better option. There are however, a few pointers that should help get you in the right direction. Also, these tips and suggestions are what I have used in my experience, and what I think works best, so the following is “IMO” (In My Opinion).

Length: I have found that when a bat reaches a player’s hip bone, it is sufficiently long enough. I don’t usually have a probably with bats being too long for girls, but too short. If a bat is a few inches too long, we can choke up a smidge. If a bat is too short… well..one fix: New Bat!

Weight: This is probably the most difficult of all the variables to figure out. The perfect weight is difficult because you don’t want to spend $200 on a bat that will be too light in 6 months because the player has gotten stronger, but you don’t want to get one too heavy that they can’t swing right away. A great way to find a starting weight is to have your daughter swing a friend’s bat that is close to the weight you are looking at buying,  for a practice to get a good feel. A bat that is too heavy will impede bat speed and mechanics, but a bat that is too light won’t get the maximum power out of a hit. A happy medium is an important place to be.

Weight Distribution: And so we get to “end loaded” and “even weight distribution”.  Simply put, an end loaded bat is beneficial for a rotational swing, and an evenly loaded bat is beneficial for a linear swing. If you can’t tell whether the bat in question is end loaded, or evenly loaded, hold it in a bunting position. If the bat head dramatically falls, it is end loaded. If you can hold it in the middle easily, it is probably more evenly distributed. I like my younger girls to stick with longer, lighter bats, (-12, -13) because they leave more room for error. They have length, but don’t sacrifice weight, and can cover all aspects of the plate. For my older, stronger girls, I like to go to a composite so they get some weight behind their swing. Remember: If the player can’t get around on a ball, it doesn’t matter how heavy, expensive, etc. the bat is. The ball won’t go without contact!

Composition: Aluminum/Mixed/Composite
To keep it short, I’ll give a quick overview of how I think the composition of a bat can help or hurt a batter. Again, I like aluminum bats for beginning and younger girls, or girls that don’t have the strength for a composite bat (yet). Composite is ideal because (theoretically) the weight behind the ball makes it go further than an aluminum when you make contact. And it does! You can definitely see and hear the difference in aluminum versus composite. However, I said it once and I’ll say it again… If the bat is too heavy to swing, the ball will go nowhere. I generally find that girls with an advanced swing make a smooth transition to a composite, as long as the bat isn’t too heavy. You will however, sacrifice length with the composite.

Lastly, when picking a bat, take a second and read the label. I know it sounds silly, but I have so many girls that come to lessons with slow pitch, or tee ball bats!  Get the right bat for what you are trying to do. Oh yeah, now that’s $$.