Choosing a Baseball Bat

What is the best youth baseball bat? That used to be a relatively easy question to answer as you just surveyed what type of Louieville Slugger was the most popular.

However, the days of one major manufacturer monopolizing the baseball bat industry have passed as well as the wooden bat being the only option.

Today there are many different manufacturers and hundreds of different baseball bats of various compositions. We must understand what we’re buying in order to determine what is the best youth baseball bat for our player.

With the inclusion of the standard wood bat, the available types of baseball bats are separated into 3 different categories with Aluminum and Graphite/Titanium lined bats being the remaining two types. Let’s exam each of the three categories with the pro and cons associated with each.

A baseball bat made of Aluminum is light weight which allows the player increased bat control and bat speed through the hitting zone. This can be of great benefit to any age player, but especially a younger player just learning the basic mechanics of hitting.

The various mixtures of zinc, magnesium, aluminum and copper increases the size of the bat’s Sweet Zone on the bat barrel, which makes the bat more forgiving of a swing where solid contact with the ball is not accomplished. The bat also tends to make the ball travel 5% or more farther than a traditional baseball bat.

A baseball bat made of graphite/titanium lining, is actually an aluminum bat with a reduced amount of aluminum in the barrel head, which is replaced with the graphite/titanium lining around the barrel. This makes the already light aluminum bat, lighter yet, which only enhances bat control and increases bat speed through the hitting zone.

The graphite/titanium lining increases the bats durability, which increases the integrity of the bat’s sweet spot. This was, of course the manufacturer’s intent, however this could result in the bat’s undoing. Due to the increased bat speed through the hitting zone and the increased velocity and speed which the ball comes off the bat, there is a real safety concern for infielders, especially third base and the pitcher.

Some leagues and colleges have begun banning the use of certain types of these bats because of the danger. Make sure your league allows the usage of these types of bats before forking out $300 – $400 for one.

The wooden bat remains a staple of baseball and are made of Maple, Ash, Hickory or a Bamboo combination. The wooden bat offers greater barrel and taper options for the hitter and are less expensive than composites, but also break more frequently, which may result in the cost savings being negated through replacement costs.

Composite bats do have one major flaw which wooden bats do not have, but few people know of it. A composite bat must be properly broke in. That’s right. Just as you would break in a new glove, you break in a composite baseball bat.

The general rule of thumb is you must hit 100 to 200 baseballs with the bat before the sweet spot is 100% efficient. The balls must be of a quality leather, so rubber coated baseballs of the type used in batting cages are not allowable.

The leather baseballs must be traveling at least 40 mph and preferably faster, so hitting off a Tee is not allowed. While hitting these 200 pitches, remember to consistently turn the bat an 1/8″ each time you hit a ball in order to break in the entire bat barrel and not just one side.

What is the best youth baseball bat available? That’s your decision.

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