Choosing a bat

This is a question that comes up now and then. Parents will come to me and ask what size bat they should get their daughter.

What I’ve found to be the best way of choosing a bat is to have the hitter stand up straight. Then place her bat choices next to her leg, with the barrel down and the knob up. The knob should come up to the hitter’s wrist. That is the ideal bat length. It can go a little above there if she’s willing to choke up, but not too much.

From there it’s a matter of the bat drop — the difference between the length and weight. For most hitters a -10 will be the best choice, although at 10U if the hitter is small you might want to go with a -11 or even -12. (If you’re not familiar with it, a -10 means a 30 inch bat will weight 20 ounces.) If the hitter is bigger or stronger, you might want to go with a -9 or -8, although the latter might mean you have to go with a slowpitch bat.

For some reason a lot of girls seem to like to go with bats that are too long for them. A bat that’s too long can be dfficult for the hitter to swing, and the faster the pitching the more obvious it becomes. On the other hand, a bat that’s too short won’t provide the power and will force the hitter to stand closer to the plate than she needs to.

When selecting a bat, use the “wrist test.” It works.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on September 14, 2008, in Hitting. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. thanks for these tips! have you heard anything about the new Easton Softball bats? http://www.clearlythefuture.com ? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Great blog!

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  2. Thanks, glad you like the blog. I hadn’t seen these bats yet but it’s certainly an interesting idea. There has been a lot of controversy around the composite bats, so anything that helps keep them in the hitters’ hands is good for the hitters. It’s a pretty innovative idea in any case.

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  3. Now that my daughter has played 4 complete yrs of travel ball, I think she finally has the right bat. She has never been the biggest or strongest girl on the team – she’s average – and so the wt has always been a concern for me (not my wt, the bat wt for her). I constantly had her using bats that were lighter than what other girls were using, which in turn are shorter bats as well. I was certain that she could swing faster with a lighter bat; makes sense, right? Well, I’m not discounting her deficiencies in her swing, but I have her using a bat I thought was too heavy for her and she is swinging so much better since she got it, and just as fast, if not faster. She seems to have more drive and follow-through with this bat. Yes, I bought her one of the better bats, and yes, it has more pop, but her swing is much better with this bat. Maybe it has something to do with the weighting (balanced rather than end-loaded) but I have always tried to get her a balanced bat. When she swung an end loaded bat it seemed to take forever to get through the strikezone – she is just not strong enough for them. Though it goes against my natural understanding of physics, it seems the heavier bat is forcing her to swing better. Someone mentioned to me that it may be the due to the length, that it is helping her drive through the zone better? He says he does the wrist check for length first, and then worries about the wt (has her hold the bat out for 15 secs both to the side and then straight out in front – if she can hold it then it isn’t too heavy). I always thought it would be the opposite, worry about wt first and then the length. My daughter has always had really bad bat drag, and I was concerned the heavier bat would make this worse, but it hasn’t and if anything has helped it. We haven’t done much to her swing since the end of the summer to make her better, I simply contribute this to the bat for the moment – whether it be due to the wt or length. After yrs of telling girls to go lighter with their bat, I am now rethinking that.

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  4. Actually, Mike, that makes perfect sense to me, just based on my own experience. As you know, I’m a big guy. When I have to use a 32″ bat with a -10 drop, I find it very difficult to swing. It’s so light I expend all my efforts trying to keep it under control rather than driving into the ball. I find it very awkward to swing, especially since I grew up in the wood bat era. Maybe that’s what was happening with your daughter. The longer, heavier bat is more suited to her, becomes more comfortable, and she’s now able to put 100% of herself into the swing. She may not know it, but it just feels right to her. For all but the youngest players I find the length check to be enough. With a -10 or even a -9 the weight is usually not an issue. Especially if they hitter is using good swing mechanics to drive the mass of the bat instead of just arm swinging. The weight check is probably more important for the boys, where bat drops differ more. A kid who can swing a -5 just fine might have trouble with a -3.

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