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How To Choose A Bat
Few decisions impact your game as much as choosing the perfect bat. You want a bat that’s the right size, right weight and right length for you–and within your budget. Improvements in technology have given today’s ball players more options than ever, so you’re sure to find a bat that feels like it was custom made for you. You just have to do your homework to find it.
Unless you’re in the pros or playing in a wood-bat league, we’ll assume that you’ll be swinging aluminum. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making your selection:
Weight: As a general rule, bigger, stronger players usually prefer a heavier bat for maximum power. Smaller players usually benefit from a lighter bat that allows greater bat speed. To determine the weight that’s right for you, swing a variety of bats and see how much weight you’re comfortable with.
Length: Length and weight combine for peak performance. A longer bat gives you greater reach, allowing you to hit balls on the other side of the plate. But remember that a longer bat may be heavier, and the extra weight could slow you down. Like checking the weight, you need to swing bats of different lengths to decide what length best suits you.
Barrel diameter: Most players 12 and under should use a 2 1/4” barrel. This is the standard barrel size for Dixie Youth and Little League baseball, although some leagues and travel teams are using larger 2 3/4” barrels. High school and college players are restricted to a maximum barrel diameter of 2 5/8”.
League requirements: Virtually all leagues have their own bat requirements and restrictions. For example, high school and college requirements call for BBCOR-certified bats. To avoid costly surprises, make sure you know all league requirements before you go bat shopping.
Alloy: Several different aluminum alloys are used in today’s bats, each with different performance and durability characteristics. Ever wondered why some bats cost $30 while others cost $300? The alloy is often the biggest factor in the price difference. Here’s a look at some of the more popular alloys:
7046: A durable, affordable alloy that has been an industry standby for years.
Cu31: This time-tested alloy provides a great combination of performance and durability. It was the first true high-performance bat alloy.
C405 (7055): A popular alloy used by several manufacturers for their high-end bats.
C555: An alloy that includes scandium, C555 is stated to be up to 10% stronger than C405.
Scandium XS: Developed exclusively for Louisville Slugger by Alcoa, this alloy features twice the scandium found in bats made by other manufacturers, giving it even greater strength than C555.
ST+20: Also designed exclusively for Louisville Slugger by Alcoa, ST+20 is the strongest alloy on the bat market today. If you’re looking for the ultimate high-performance alloy, this is it.
Composite: Combines graphite, fiberglass and resin. Composite bats have a unique sound and feel that many batters prefer, as well as a large, forgiving sweet spot.
3X composite technology: Unique three-piece design allows barrel and handle to be designed as individual units, yet bonded to perform as an advanced 1-piece bat
Hybrid: Combines aluminum alloy with composite materials. This gives a batter the best of two worlds: an aluminum barrel with a stiff composite handle.
H2 Technology: The next step in optimizing the composite/alloy hybrid design
Exogrid Technology: Delivers power and performance through handle stiffness and strength
Air chamber and other special features: Many Louisville Slugger high-performance bats feature inflatable chambers filled with nitrogen or helium inside their barrels. A Louisville Slugger exclusive, these chambers significantly enhance trampoline effect and performance.
Feel: This may be the most important factor. Make sure the bat feels right to you, like an extension of your arm and hand. After all, you’re going to be spending quite a bit of time together.
So you’ve chosen your bat. Now what? You want to be comfortable and confident with your bat before you swing it in a win-or-lose situation, so take it to the practice field or batting cage and get in a few hits. Confidence can only come from one thing: batting practice. Whatever bat you choose, put in plenty of practice time, so you’ll be ready when the pressure’s on at the plate.