There's a reason professional athletes coddle their bats. Choosing the right softball bat can be the difference between a home run and a long flyout. Not all bats are created equal, and with hundreds of options available, it's important to choose the right bat for your specific talents, strengths and playing style.
Find the right material. Immediately halve your options by choosing either an aluminum or composite softball bat. Aluminum bats are more popular, lighter and are better suited to spring and summer leagues. Composite bats are useful for winter practice because they do not sting as much and last longer in cold weather.
Measure your height and weight. Softball bats range from 26 to 34 inches and are weighted in proportion to their length. Smaller and younger players should choose a lighter bat. Larger players and power hitters will be able to generate more torque with a heavier, longer bat. Inexperienced players should choose a shorter bat to increase bat control.
Swing the bat. Take practice swings in the store. The bat should feel balanced. It should also not feel too heavy or slow; if it does, choose a lighter or shorter bat.
Try several bats in the same length and weight range. Every bat manufacturer uses different grip materials and each bat will also have a different center of gravity.
Tips & Warnings
- Bring along a friend or coach for advice, but always make sure you are the one who tries out each bat. Your body, swing and experience level is unique to you. Your bat should accommodate this.
- Choose a bat that feels great when you pick it up; never buy a bat because you plan to "grow into" it.
- Composite bats need to be broken in before they perform up to the manufacturer's specifications. If you purchase a composite bat, take 200 swings in batting practice and gradually rotate the bat in your hands so you're using the entire surface. Conversely, aluminum bats do not need to be broken in, but you should still practice with your new bat before using it in a game.
- Check with your league before you buy a bat. Many leagues restrict the length-to-weight ratio for safety reasons. Ensure that your bat conforms to their specifications.
- Photo Credit Girl at Bat image by Shannon Workman from Fotolia.com
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