Let me say this plainly. The interactive bat wizards that you see on the Web just flat don’t work. I talk to customers all the time in our store and on the phone that have bought the wrong bat for their kid, or themselves, based on these bat wizards.
Why do these wizards fail? They fail because they are too simplistic and they base their sizing on the height and weight of the hitter. While this seems like a sensible way to pick a bat, it really isn’t. It doesn’t take into account the skill of the player or his (or her) individual strength. I’ve seen beanpole players easily swing -3 and -5 drop bat while some heavier kids, just getting into the game, really need a -12 drop bat.
In my experience, a player needs the right size bat early in his or her career. Otherwise the player tends to lose confidence, have less fun and, in some cases, ends up disliking the game.
For all these reasons, I’m giving you my guide to find the right size bat for you or your child. This is what I tell my national customers when they call me and my local customers when they come into our store.
What is Drop?
Before going further, let me define “Drop”. Drop numbers are the negative numbers that you see associated with a bat. Figuring out drop is not hard. If you can subtract, you can understand drop.
Drop = (Bat Weight in Ounces) – (Bat Length in Inches)
Therefore a bat that weighs 18 ounces and is 28 inches long is a -10 drop (18-28 = -10).
-10 = 18 ounces – 28 inches
The more negative the drop, the lighter the bat is relative to the length of the bat. So, in general, young kids will swing high drop (more negative) bats and older kids will swing low drop (less negative) bats.
An important note about drop for older boys playing baseball: The natural drop of wood is -3. Therefore a 33 inch wood bat will weigh 30 oz. Although colleges and high schools don’t require their baseball players to use wood bats, they do require that players use a bat that has the same drop as a wood bat or -3. You should keep this in mind if you are choosing a bat for high school or college player. You will find our high school and college bats under the “Adult” category for those players preferring aluminum or composite bats and under the “Wood” category for those that like the feel of wood.
By the way, girls and women playing high school or college softball don’t have to worry about the -3 drop rule. They can swing any drop weight they want. The highest drop I’ve seen in fastpitch is -13.
How To Choose A Bat Size (Experienced Player)
Let me give you a little secret about bat sizing. Everything depends on the hitter’s swing speed.
Swing speed is directly related to bat weight. Here is a general rule of thumb:
The heavier the bat, the slower the swing speed
The lighter the bat, the faster the swing
If The Hitter Has Slow Bat Speed
The biggest problem I see with most players is that they swing slowly because they are using a heavy bat.
If the hitter is swinging slower than his or her teammates and other kids at the same level, this is a sign that the bat is too heavy for the player. The best thing to do for a heavy bat problem is to ask the player to swing some of his or her older bats regardless of length and watch the player’s swing speed. You’ll see that the player swings faster with lighter bats. The proper weight for the player is the weight of the heaviest bat he test swings and still has high bat speed.
Once you know the bat’s proper weight, you find the right length. My advice is to keep the length, if possible, of the hitter’s current (heavy) bat. So for example,
Your batter uses a 28 inch bat
Your batter’s optimal bat weight is 17ounces
You find out the drop
Drop = 17 ounces -28 inches = -11
You look for a bat with a -11 drop
To help you find bats with this drop Bat Honcho.com
Go to one of our major Baseball and Fast Pitch categories
Click by Drop
Select the Drop you need
If The Hitter Has Good Bat Speed
Let’s define “good” bat speed. If a player is swinging at least as fast as the average player on his or her team, then we usually say that the player has “good” bat speed. When you see faster than average bat speed, it’s time to move up to a heavier bat. With a heavier bat, the player will slow down a little bit, but the extra momentum generated from the extra weight will still increase the hitting distance.
So how much should you go up? I usually recommend no more than an ounce of weight over the hitter’s current bat. If you go beyond that, the bat speed will decrease too much and you’ll actually lose momentum and hitting distance.
Increase Weight From Bigger Barrel
The next question is how to increase the weight. Should you go bigger/wider barrel, longer length or higher drop? Usually, if the player is happy with the length of the current bat and is using a 2-1/4 bat, then go up weight with a big barrel bat. This will give him a larger sweet spot and more pop in his bat. (Sorry, fastpitch softball and Little League baseball players, your leagues require 2-1/4 barrels, so a big barrel bat is not an option for you.)
Increase Weight From Longer Length
If he or she wants a longer barrel, then go up on weight by purchasing a longer length. Each inch of length usually equals an ounce. If for example you’re currently swinging a 29 inch/19 oz (-10 drop) bat, you’ll want to go to a 30 inch/20oz bat.
Increase Weight From Lower Drop
Finally, if your fast swinging player is happy with his or her bat length and barrel width, then just go to a lower drop bat. In other words, you keep the length the same, but go up in bat weight. For example if the hitter is using -10 bat now, you’ll want to keep the same length but go to a -9 for his or her new bat.
How To Choose A Bat Size (New Player)
My advice for the new player is to start with a light bat for the first season. In my experience, a new player with a light bat learns the proper hitting form much faster than a kid lugging a heavy bat.
Baseball T-Ball Beginners
If your kid is a tee-baller, then any one of the tee-ball bats on BatHoncho.com will work for him or her as a first season bat. We only carry a tee ball bat if it’s lightweight. In general, get a 24 inch bat if your kid is slightly built for his or her age and get a 25 inch bat if your kid is average to above average in build.
Coach/Machine Pitch Beginners
If your kid is entering coach/machine pitch, you need a coach pitch bat. A coach pitch bat is a lightweight big barrel bat that gives the hitter about 30% more distance over a normal 2-1/4 inch barrel. For the first season of coach/machine pitch, you should select a 25 or 26 inch bat if your kid is average to below average in build. A 27 inch coach pitch bat is appropriate for a husky new player.
The 27 inch and 28 inch coach pitch bats are best for the second year of coach/machine pitch.
Little League Baseball Beginners
With Little League baseball leagues, they require 2-1/4 inch small barrel youth bats. My advice here is the same as with the big barrel coach pitch bats. Start with 25 to 26 inch bats for most kids and 27 inch bat for husky kids. Because these bats are lighter than coach pitch bats, you’ll want to transition sooner to a heavier/longer bat. Sometimes, this transition is towards the end of the first season.
Fast Pitch Softball Beginners
With girls’ softball, we have beginners coming in at all ages. In general, my guidelines for baseball t-ball (for 6U ball) and Little League Baseball (for 8U) apply to girls softball as well. For 8 years old and older, I recommend a 29 inch bat with a -11 to -13 drop. This will be too light for the older girl by the end of the season, but it is exactly what she needs to learn the softball swing as a beginner.
Slow Pitch Softball Beginners
For players just entering slow pitch, you should know that all slow pitch bats are 34 inches long. But, the weights vary from 26 ounces to 30 ounces.
For the new player, especially if he or she has never played ball before, your first bat should be light and 26 ounces would be appropriate for you. I would only start with a heavier bat if you have recently played baseball and were using a bat that weighed more than 26 ounces.
Questions Or Something I Didn’t Cover?
This is exactly how I size bats. If you use my method, you’ll find the perfect bat for you or your child and you’ll be happy with your purchase.
If after reading this you still feel that you need help picking the right size bat, please give us a call or send us an email about your specific circumstances. We’ll be happy to recommend a size that will maximize your performance at the plate.
Best of luck and have fun playing ball!
The Bat Honcho