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Updated May 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best T-ball bats

For children, the first time they play a team sport often will involve playing T-ball. This is a sport that resembles baseball and softball but that has rules especially friendly for preschool and other very young children. 

Rather than having someone pitch the ball to them, T-ball players hit the ball from a tee that holds it stationary. This type of game allows the child to have success hitting the ball immediately. As they age and as their skills improve, they can migrate to softball and baseball where they can try to hit pitched balls.

Another advantage of T-ball is its level of safety. T-balls are softer and weigh less than baseballs and softballs. This allows the child to gain confidence while catching and fielding the softer ball before migrating to the harder configurations of baseballs and softballs.

To limit the force with which a player can hit the T-ball, players in T-ball leagues must use an approved T-ball bat. These bats are shorter and lighter than baseball and softball bats, meaning they fit the body, skill level, and age of the very young T-ball player while remaining safe to use. 

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Because bats for T-ball don’t work for baseball or softball, parents may want to avoid spending too much money on a bat that a child would need to stop using after graduating to a non-T-ball league.

How to choose the best T-ball bat

Length

The majority of these bats measure around 26 inches in length. For older, taller children, a longer-than-average bat may be preferable. Younger kids may need a shorter bat.

If the bat is too long to fit the child’s body size and level of strength, they’ll have trouble swinging it properly. This can lead to mishits, even with the ball on a tee. It also can cause muscle strains or bad habits that can affect the child’s swing path. These undesirable habits may linger when the child begins playing baseball or softball.

Weight

T-ball bats often weigh around 14 ounces, although lighter and heavier bats are available, typically in a range of 11 to 18 ounces. 

A slightly heavier bat generates more force on the ball. However, if the bat is too heavy for the child to swing properly, it can lead to mishits and bad swing habits.

Barrel diameter

A T-ball bat is available in two diameters in the barrel of either 2 1/4 or 2 5/8 inches. These are the same diameters that appear in youth baseball bats.

  • Smaller barrel: The smaller barrel diameter measures 2 1/4 inches. This is a common barrel size for T-ball bats, as these bats have less weight, making them easier for the child to swing properly. In fact, some coaches recommend players should wait until at least age 12 to begin swinging the larger barrel bat.
  • Larger barrel: For T-ball bats, 2 5/8-inch barrel diameter measurements are typically available in more expensive bats. Be sure the T-ball player can handle the size and weight of the larger barrel bat before spending any money on it.

 

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Caution
Only use a T-ball bat with T-balls. Kids may attempt to hit baseballs, softballs, rocks, or clods of dirt with the bat, and any of these items could damage it.
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T-ball bat features

Drop weight

Drop weight is a term that appears in all youth bats for softball, baseball, and T-ball. It refers to the difference in the bat’s weight in ounces compared to the bat’s length in inches. It’s always a negative number for a T-ball bat.

A common drop in a T-ball bat is -12, but a range of -9 to -15 is possible. A -15 drop measurement would indicate a longer, extremely lightweight bat. A -9 drop weight would indicate a heavier bat with a less-than-average length.

Color

Bright and fun colors are common. Color doesn’t affect the performance of the bat, however. Children may decide they want a certain color in the bat, which is fine. Just make sure the bat’s size actually fits the child’s body. Don’t pick a bat on color alone.

Grip

The majority of bats for T-ball have a rubbery grip. This helps the player hold the bat securely while swinging it. More expensive bats may have a polyurethane grip that will last longer than rubber. However, the majority of children outgrow the bat before the grip wears out, so it isn’t necessary to spend extra for a high-quality grip.

Bat material

  • Composite: Composite bats tend to have the largest sweet spot, which allows the player to have more swing success. However, these bats are pricier than other options.
  • Metal alloy: A metal alloy bat carries a reasonable price and performance level. It’s a reliable type of bat for the player who’s just learning the game, and it’s extremely durable.
  • Wood: Wooden bats for T-ball are difficult to find, have a small sweet spot, and are expensive. Nearly all T-ball players are far better off with a composite or metal alloy bat. 

T-ball bats often have fun names printed on them, including those of cartoon characters, which may appeal to younger kids. Don’t let a child only select a bat that looks fun, though. It should fit the child’s body and age.

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Pricing

Inexpensive: The least expensive bats cost $10 to $20. These often don’t feature popular bat manufacturers and brand names. A metal alloy is a common material in a bat in this price range.

Mid-range: Mid-range T-ball bats cost $20 to $40. Bats in this price range often have 2 1/4-inch barrel diameters. Both composite and metal alloy bats are available in this price range. You can find some popular manufacturers at this price point too, such as Easton and Rawlings.

Expensive: The priciest bats cost $40 to $100. These often have wider diameter barrels measuring 2 5/8 inches. Composite bats are common in this price range, as are wood bats.

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Staff Tip
Boys and girls can use the same T-ball bat. It’s far more important for the bat to fit the child’s age and size versus worrying about gender for a particular bat.
Staff
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Tips

Finding the right bat size involves thinking about your child’s body size as well as their level of strength, age, and arm length.

  • Bat length: Measure the distance from the center of the child’s chest along an outstretched arm to the point of the child’s hand where the palm meets the fingers. This length measurement should be equal to the length of the best T-ball bat for your child.
  • Bat weight: The ball bat includes a drop measurement. A younger and smaller child may want a drop measurement of -12 to -15. An older and taller child may want a drop of -9 to -12.
  • Body height: The child’s height plays a role in finding just the right bat. Children who are 3 1/2 feet tall or shorter typically want a 24- to 27-inch bat. Children who are taller than 3 1/2 feet can use a 26- to 29-inch bat.
  • Body weight: A child who weighs 60 pounds or less should be able to handle a 24- to 27-inch T-ball bat. A child who weighs more than 60 pounds should stick with a 26- to 29-inch T-ball bat.


 

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Don’t use T-balls and T-ball bats with a traditional fast pitching machine and don’t use the T-ball bat to hit dimpled pitching machine balls. Upgrade to a baseball or softball bat to use a fast pitching machine.

FAQ

Q. How do I know if a bat is legal to use for T-ball games?

A. Any legal T-ball bat must follow USA Baseball’s standards and rules for the configuration, shape, and size of the bat. A legal bat will have a USA Baseball logo printed on it, as well as text that says, “Only for use with approved T-balls.” Some bats also contain a sticker that says they’re legal for T-ball games.

Q. Can I throw pitches to my child who is using a T-ball bat?

A. Players should primarily use T-ball bats for hitting T-balls off a tee. If your child is becoming bored with hitting the T-ball off the tee, parents occasionally can soft toss the T-ball to the child and allow the child to hit it with the T-ball bat safely. Don’t throw hard overhand pitches with a T-ball to a child using a T-ball bat. Instead, purchase a baseball or softball bat made for live pitching.

Q. Is it safe to use T-ball bats in cold weather?

A. Bat manufacturers recommend avoiding using baseball, softball, or T-ball bats in temperatures of less than 50°F. Players can use their bats in lower temperatures, but they run the risk of causing damage to the bat.

Q. Can you use a T-ball bat in a coach pitch or machine pitch league?

A. It’s better to use a baseball or softball bat for game play in leagues where pitching will occur. However, understanding that some of these leagues place the ball on a tee for the player if they can’t hit the pitched ball, using a T-ball bat may be a requirement of the league. As long as the league uses soft T-balls and as long as the coach-pitcher or pitching machine is soft tossing the ball, a T-ball bat should work safely.

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