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How to Choose a Youth Baseball or Softball Bat

Baseball bat with the ball
When a child starts playing baseball or softball, it isn't always easy figuring out just which bat to purchase. Bats exist in a wide variety of different lengths, weights, materials, and barrel sizes. There are also various certifications used for bats. The following tips should help you figure out which bat is right for your child.

Ask the Coach
The first step to take before purchasing a bat is asking the coach, as different leagues have different requirements for bats. Some require a certain certification stamp on the bat for it to be legal for use in play. For example, a Pony League player typically needs a bat that has the USSSA stamp, while a high school player often needs a bat certified by the BBCOR.

Height and Weight Considerations
For youth baseball, the standard sizes range from about 26 inches to 32 inches long, with the right size typically determined by the height and weight of the child. A child weighing less than 60 pounds who is about 3 feet tall would probably do best with a 26-inch bat, for example, while one who's about 3.5 feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds would probably do well with a 28-or 29-inch bat.

Arm-Length Considerations
Another way to verify if the bat is the right length is to make sure that if the bat is resting on the ground, the child's hand reaches the handle. If the end of the bat's handle is placed against the chest with the bat facing straight out, your child's hand should reach the barrel or fatter part of the bat.

Hip-Height Considerations
With the bat standing up next to the child, the end of the bat shouldn't reach higher than your child's hip. Otherwise, it will probably be too long for them to comfortably swing.

Drop Weight of the Bat
Next, consider the drop weight of the bat. This is the weight of the bat minus the length of the bat. Small children that need longer bats may need a greater drop weight to be able to swing the bat, but long and light bats won't provide much inertia, which is important for power hitting. Children in high school need to use a bat with a -3 weight drop, but younger children can have bats with as much as a -13.5 weight drop.

Weight of the Bat
If you're not sure which weight of bat is best for the child, have them try holding the bat out in front of them. They should be able to do this for at least 15 or 20 seconds without their arms starting to shake or dropping the bat. If they can't, then the bat is too heavy for them.

Bat Material
In general, wood bats aren't used with children, so that leaves alloy, composite, and hybrid bats. Alloy bats, typically made of aluminum for children, tend to be less expensive, durable, and light, making them a good choice for those just getting started in the game. Composite bats are expensive and need to be broken in, while hybrid bats combine the best of each of these two options but are still pretty pricey.

One-Piece vs. Two-Piece Bats
Another choice is whether to purchase a bat made out of one piece or two pieces (which includes half-and half bats with the handle made out of one material and the barrel made out of another). One-piece bats tend to have more vibration but also be more balanced, while two-piece bats have more flex and work better for power hitters.
Mesquite Sports Center can help you figure out just which gear you or your child need for the sports you wish to participate in.