Many youth or amateur baseball players are more familiar with using aluminum baseball bats or training bats made with composite materials, but professional baseball players must use traditional wooden bats. Many amateur leagues also require them.
So if you’re required to buy a wooden bat, or you want to get comfortable with using one, which wooden baseball bat should you get?
Baseball beginners should aim to use a bat that gives them optimal control. Wooden bats that offer the best control are typically lightweight and are made from bamboo or ash. Either lets beginners hone their skills due to relatively equal weight distribution throughout the bat, making it easier to both swing and connect with the ball.
Maple, birch and hickory bats, on the other hand, are aimed at intermediate to advanced players who are aiming for hitting power. If you're looking for something in between, a composite bat made of ash and maple might be best.
The weight of the bat you choose doesn't depend only on your experience level. It's important to take into account what type of hitter you are — or want to become.
Hitters who are just trying to get on base, for example, will almost always aim to use a lighter bat. It will connect with the ball more effectively and efficiently than a heavier bat, though the baseball may not travel as far.
If you aim to become a heavy hitter who sends balls out of the park, however, and you're not worried about executing crisp, precise shots, a heavier bat that creates optimum momentum is preferable.
Old-school wooden bats typically have a round handle that gets thinner the closer it gets to the top. This shape is not ergonomic and can burn out forearm strength quickly in beginners.
For the purposes of comfort and durability, beginner and modern bats have axe handles. This style of handle lets beginners grip the bat more effectively because it fits the shape of the hand and burns less energy when you grip. This lets you apply more energy as you swing.
However, axe-handle bats are limited to certain manufacturers, and more experienced players may prefer a conventional round handle.
The knob is a critical component of any wooden bat. A knob is the disc shape at the very bottom of a bat that ensures the bat does not slip out of the hand when swung. However, some are more comfortable than others.
The best style for beginners is tapered. This makes sure that the grip feels more natural.
Since a large-barrel bat provides more weight at the end of the bat, it is generally preferred by power hitters. But contact hitters typically prefer small-barrel bats. The trade-off is that the larger barrel is harder to swing, and it's more difficult to maintain accuracy.
There are other features for larger-barrel bats that can provide better outcomes for contact hitters. For example, thicker handles and cupped ends provide more grip. They also distribute weight better to make the bat easier to swing.
Three main types of wood are used to make bats:
The term “drop weight” is a way to categorize bats based on their power. The drop weight is the length of the bat minus the weight.
The drop weight number is labeled with a stamp on the bar. Adult baseball bats usually have a drop weight of -2 or -3. Younger players usually need a drop weight closer to -4 or -5, but many use a drop weight as low as -8.
Lighter bats provide more speed in the swing, but power is produced by weight. So players should find the heaviest bat they can still swing comfortably.
This bat is ideal for kids who want to practice faster swing speeds. The medium barrel balances speed with accuracy and the cupped end provides balance.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
The dense composition of this maple bat provides lots of power and the carefully crafted cup is designed to minimize breakage. The swing weight is end loaded for extra power.
With the largest sweet spot of any wooden Victus bat, this balanced bat enables fast swing and tons of accuracy.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.