Quit Buying Bigger Bats

Science and Common Sense Explain Why

Every year since I’ve been coaching baseball at least one player on my team (usually several) comes out with a brand new bat that is entirely too heavy for them to swing.

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I always dread telling that parent who just overspent on a youth bat that it’s too big for their son to swing.

They drag it up to the plate time and time again. It swings them instead of the other way around.

When considering the bat size for your child or team, you should keep in mind two main points:

  1. The science behind what is really happening during a swing and contact

  2. The age, strength, maturity, and skill level of your players

The Science

First, let’s disregard specific player ability and focus on the science.

Exit velocity is the speed at which the ball leaves the bat. Many old school “baseball guys” scowl at the term exit velocity and all the new scientific analyses that come along with it. But when you talk about your youth player hitting it harder, you really mean having a higher exit velocity.

Exit velocity is an outcome, and one of the main inputs to it is the momentum of the bat. All other factors equal, the more momentum the bat has, the higher the exit velocity of the ball will be.

Now, momentum equals mass times velocity, so there are basically two ways to increase the momentum of the bat - swing a heavier bat, or swing the bat you have faster.

The highest exit velocity will be generated by the highest momentum of the bat, which means swinging the heaviest bat you can find the fastest, right? Well yes…but it’s a little more complicated than that.

Most dads seem to get the mass part of the equation right. Unfortunately they forget the part about needing to be able to swing it fast….or swing it at all.

The Player

No matter what the science says, if your kid can’t swing it, then he doesn’t need to use it. Not only will decreased bat speed result in decreased exit velocity, but a bat that’s too heavy can mess up good swing mechanics (and result in picking up bad habits).

The best way to tell is to just watch his swing when he’s using it. At the point in which the heavier bat changes the swing, it’s too heavy.

You’ll hear some guys say to hold the bat straight out with your lead arm and if you can hold it then it’s not too heavy. That doesn’t mean anything other than he can hold it straight out.

Let the kid swing the bat, and if he can handle it without adversely changing his swing, then it’s probably okay.

In Conclusion

The bottom line is you want the heaviest bat you can get without sacrificing bat speed and good swing mechanics of your player. I’ll repeat, without sacrificing bat speed and good swing mechanics! For younger players, we’d rather have a good swing and a lot of bat speed than a little bit heavier bat!

That’s it! It’s simple, but thousands and thousands of kids are swinging bats that are too big and too heavy!

One more thing….

In addition to physical limitations of the batter, there are plenty of rules governing bat length and weight for all of the various leagues and organizations. Be sure to check out the rules of the league or organization you play in before purchasing a bat!

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