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Re: Bat size and weight

Posted by: Joe Hernandez (coach2hit@yahoo.com) on Sun Jun 11 17:39:19 2006

> My 9 year old is on a travel team. He and his dad picked out a new bat yesterday. Its a 30/17. My son loves it. When one of his coaches saw it he commented that it was too big. His sone uses a 29 /19. In my opinion the inch in length is not such a big deal and my sons bat is lighter. But the coach keeps commenting and has now made it an issue for my son. We can get him a new one and put the other bat away for a year but i wanted another opinion before we spend another 200 bucks! THe other issue is my son does not want to change bats.... Please help me do what it best for him and his hitting... is the coach just babbling or does he have a point?

This is another area that is "clouded" with mystery and all kinds of unscientific opinions and formulas. It's very important to take height and strenght into account. Nine year olds come in all sizes and strength...what is appropriate for a 52 inch kid may not be appropriate for a 60 inch kid.

One of the most important factors in a young player's enjoyment of the game is his (or her) success at the plate. So selecting the right bat is important for his success. Besides proper training in the art and science of hitting a baseball, the bat itself plays a big role.

Too many well-meaning but uninformed parents buy their kid a bat that is the wrong length or weight, or both. This adds yet another obstacle to the budding player's efforts to succeed. And too many coaches don't know what they are talking about. They go "on-line" and read the first garbage they come across and make it the holy gospel.

The general rule of thumb is to use the formula of dividing height by 4 then adding 4...Formula = (Height/4) + 4...Doing so will give you these general guidelines for Youth 8-10 Years Old:

Player Height Best Bat Weight

48 in. 16 oz.
50 in. 16.5 oz.
52 in. 17 oz.
54 in. 17.5 oz.
56 in. 18 oz.
58 in. 18.5 oz.
60 in. 19 oz.

A 30" might be too big for him and 17 ounces could be too heavy only if he is under 52 inches. (Slugger Barry Bonds uses a 33"!) There are all kinds of test and formulas to determine bat size and weight...I am not big on these formulas. The bat needs to feel good and he should be able to swing it comfortably without "disrupting" his mechanics (swing). The standard weight formula is "(weight/18) + 14.

So using both the weight and height formula will give you an idea. Just don't get to "caught-up" in all these formulas and those test that have the kid hold his arm out straight for a certain amount of seconds with the bat in his hand. Even the "experts" don't agree on what is right...one will tell you 15 seconds and another will tell you 30 seconds. All I know is that no one holds a bat in that fashion to hit and therefore it is useless...be sports specific...hold the bat the way it needs to held. Like I said, the bat needs to feel comfortable and good enough so that he can maintain "bat speed".

As a rule of thumb, and given that you are spending $200 on a bat, I suggest the lightest bat of a given length that you can purchase for that kind of money. The high-tech alloys in the lightest bats cost the most, while inexpensive bats made from cheaper aluminum - which requires thicker walls for strength - are heavier.

Length-to-weight ratio is perhaps the most important factor in buying a bat. This is a negative number denoting the amount of ounces the bat weighs less than the amount of inches its length. For example, a 30-inch bat that weighs 20 ounces is a -10. The greatest differential commonly found is -12. for youth bats.

Little Leaguers Baseball Bat barrel diameters are usually 2-1/4. The smallest size is required by Little League (up to age 12) as well as some lower divisions of other organizations. It should be noted that the ideal bat weight for maximum hit ball speed is approximately one ounce heavier than the recommendation. The reason for this is that the research showed there is negligible loss of hit ball speed by reducing bat weight one ounce below the ideal, and the increased bat control with the lighter weight more than compensates...I am not all too sure if this is accurate since I never read the actual studies by "Worth"...but it does sound logical.

The point is, even a Major League player goes to a lighter bat to maintain bat speed, which is top priority in hitting. So it's that much more crucial for a young, undeveloped player to have a light enough bat to swing with enough bat speed to hit the ball with some authority.

It's difficult to get a feel for a bat in a store, and even if you could safely swing it there, it's very different from swinging at pitched balls hurling towards you. If you really want to do some research, take your kid to a local batting cage and have him hit with a selection of cage bats available there on loan. You'll see right away which ones are obviously too small, too big, or too heavy. It's dialing it in to the exact right inch and ounce that's tricky.

But if you get close, and even if the bat might be an inch too long (remember - a longer bat puts more weight out further from the hands, which in effect makes it heavier to swing than a shorter bat of the same weight), the player can choke up a little. If he needs to choke up more than an inch, however, go to the next inch-size down.

If he is swinging the current bat well and it feels comfortable to him then it sounds like he is okay. A few games should tell you one way or the other. Just remember, that you want your kid to succeed...if he has the wrong bat size/weight then you would be creating a situation that can lead to "failure" at the plate and take the enjoyment out of the game. Do some research and take the time to discover what will work best for him!

I trust this helps...

Joe Hernandez


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