Picture this: so you have a kid who wants to play baseball and asks your help in grabbing all the equipment that they need to play the perfect game. As the great parent, aunt, or uncle you are, you decide that you’ll help them with their hobby, and off you go to get their first bat.
You get there to the sports store and see lines upon bats of different shapes, sizes, lengths, and weights sitting there waiting to be picked.
Unless you’ve been playing baseball yourself, the chances are that you’ll be overwhelmed by the number of choices that you have to make! Well, that’s what we’re here for – to help you pick the perfect bat sizing for kids (and possibly even yourself if you decide to pick up America’s greatest pastime).
In this guide, we’ll cover the following:
- General Rules for Sizing Bats
- Bat Charts
- Bat Drop
- Regulations in Different leagues
General Rules For Bat Sizing For Kids
One of the most general rules for picking a bat is how it feels.
Have your kid pick up the bat and give it a couple of swings in the store – with proper safety, of course. If they have experience with baseball, they should know how swinging the right kind of bat should feel and instinctively know when the bat is too heavy, too light, too short, or too long.
You want a bat that’s the right size, the right weight, and the right length for you – and one that fits within your budget.
If your kid doesn’t have enough baseball experience, looking at their swing should tell you something about the bat.
If they swing wildly or appear to have little or no control over the bat, then perhaps you should start looking at shorter and lighter bats. The younger the player, the more lightweight the bat
The shortest bat for youth players is around 27 inches for kids 3’5″ to 3’8″. And the longest for kids teens 6’1″ and above is 34 inches.
There are size charts that you can use to get a general idea of what length and weight of bat your kid needs, but just in case you can’t whip out one when you need it, you can follow these rules for picking the length and weight of your child’s bat.
Picking The Perfect Length
There are several methods of picking the right length of bat for your kid.
The first one is the easiest – all you have to do is have your kid stand straight up while they have their cleats on. If the bat they picked up is about hip height, then the bat is the perfect length for them.
If it reaches too high or too low, then it’s too long or too short, respectively. However, this is a general rule for players below ten years of age, as around 11-12 years old, they hit their growth spurt, which will no longer be accurate.
A second method you may use is the arm length test. All you have to do is place the knob of the bat (the rounded end near the handle) on the chest of your kid. If your kid can reach the barrel (the thicker end of the bat) with no problem, then that bat is a good length for your kid.
Weighing In On Bat Weight
Picking the perfect length of the bat is but half of the challenge; you need to get the proper weight for your swing. If it’s too light, then your strikes will be faster but lack the power you need to drive those hits out of the park.
If it’s too heavy, then your swings will be slower and lack control, keeping you from keeping up with your opponent’s pitches. So here are a few tips and tricks to help you get that perfect weight.
You could use a size chart to help you get a general idea of what weight range your child might fall into, but these methods will help narrow it down.
The first method you can use is simple to perform. All you have to do is let your child hold the bat straight out in front of them. If they can keep it there for 30-45 seconds without tiring, then they probably have a good weight for a bat.
Older kids can also do this test, but since their bats are much heavier, we suggest that they hold it out in front of them for a minimum of 20 seconds. If they can hold it without it dipping or moving around, then that’s a good weight.
The second method for determining whether or not you have the proper weight for a bat is this.
First, have your child hold the bat away from their body with their arm straight out at to the side and the bat at a right angle from their arm. Then, you have them rotate their wrist so that the bat is held upright with the knob facing down and the tip facing upwards.
The third motion they perform is rotating their wrist the other way to turn the bat upside down. If the child can do this with a relatively stable arm, that bat is probably a good fit. If you notice that they struggle to hold the bat or have the bat wobble wildly during the test, then you probably have to look for something lighter for them to keep.
Overall, these tests are designed to help your child pick the right bat for them but won’t substitute the general feel. As much as possible, try to choose a bat that feels best for them while also giving them the proper reach and power needed to hit the ball the way they want to.
In the end, you’re looking for a bat that can cover your child’s strike zone, light enough to swing easily, and with enough weight to give them power, and finally, one that is allowed in the league your child plays in
Bat Sizing Charts
If you have internet wherever you are, chances are you can open up your browser to look at size charts! These are a great way to get a general feel of what bat length is right for your child.
The chart is one of many you can find on the internet. Keep in mind, this is a chart for length and therefore means that you’ll still have to check whether the bat’s weight is right for your child.
One of the things that you have to consider when purchasing a bat for your kid is weight drop. Now you might be wondering, “What in the world is weight drop?” Well, weight drop can easily be explained through a straightforward formula.
Bat length (inches) – Bat weight (ounces) = Weight drop
So, for example, a 29’’ bat weighing 17 oz. has a weight drop of -12
The weight drop is an important part of regulation standards, as will be explained later, but can also be used as a general idea for what kind of bat might be right for your child. Bats with weight drops ranging from -13.5 to -12 are a good fit for players seven years old and below.
As your player gets older, though, the weight drop has to decrease to about -10 to -9 as they hit 12 years old.
High school and college baseball regulations are even lower, with a maximum weight drop of -3.
This means that if your child is thinking of playing as they get older, some training must be incorporated into adapting to these lower weight drops if they want to stay competitive.
Regulations In Different Leagues
The leagues that you and your child are most likely to run into while playing baseball are the BBCOR, the USSSA, and the USA Baseball Leagues
The BBCOR governs high school and college games and requires that the barrel of each bat be a standard 2 5/8 inches, with a weight drop of -3,
The USSSA leagues, on the other hand, govern a large variety of baseball games and age ranges, so they are more lenient and have a more comprehensive range of acceptable bats depending on your group
The USA Baseball leagues are a little more strict as only bats of “USABats” can be used and with a barrel of 2 5/8 inches
Don’t worry, though, as manufacturers often keep these standards in mind and place labels on their bats that indicate which leagues are certified for.
Just make sure that you know what league your child is participating in, and there should be no problems k picking the right bat for them.
Finally, we understand that getting a bat for your child is a daunting task – if you have no idea where to start. We hope that with the info we’ve given you, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision and help you purchase the right bat for your child.