Baseball Bat Size Buying Guide
Bats come in a mind-numbing assortment of sizes, lengths and weights and are fashioned from several different materials. So choosing the right bat size is no simple task, unless you know what to look for. And that’s what we’re going to discuss here: how to measure for a bat to ensure the proper fit.
How to Measure for the Right Size Baseball Bat for Kids
Oftentimes kids want a bat that’s bigger than they should have because they think it looks cool or makes them look more mature. Parents are often okay with the larger bat because they feel their kid will grow into the bat. Well, that may or may not be true, but saddling them with a bat that is too large does a disservice to the child in the here and now that could upend their involvement in the sport.
Why? Because bat speed is the single biggest factor in determining how far the ball flies when it’s hit. Yes, there are other factors in play, but bat speed is number one. If your child is struggling at the plate with a bat that’s too large for them, they won’t be able to generate bat speed and they’re liable to be an easy out, which means they’ll wind up on the bench or won’t make the team at all.
3 Ways to Measure Bat Size
Here are three simple methods for determining proper measurement and fit.
Method 1: Have your child extend an arm straight out to the side. Place the grip end of the bat against the center of your child's chest, with the barrel end against their extended hand. If they can wrap their fingertips over the end of the bat, it's the right length. If they can't, then the bat is too long. If the end of the bat only reaches their palm then the bat is too short.
Method 2: For this measurement, have your child stand upright with their back straight and their arms hanging at their side in a relaxed manner. Place the barrel end of the bat on the ground. The knob at the grip end of the bat should come to rest in their palm. If it is up around their wrist the bat is too long. If it is down at their fingers the bat is too short.
Method 3: Have your child extend one arm straight out in front of them. Place the grip end of the bat against their chest and extend it outward toward their hand. They should be able to rest the beginning of the barrel in their hand. This is the least precise method, but some will still find it useful.
As you can see, measuring the right baseball bat size for your child is a fairly straightforward process. We would also recommend that you take the measurements while they’re wearing their baseball cleats. This way, you can be sure that your measurements are accurate.
But there’s more to choosing the correct bat size than just the length. Here are some other things to consider when measuring bat size.
Getting a bat that is the right weight is largely a matter of feel. Once you determine the correct measurement for length, have your child do practice swings with several bats of differing weight. If you notice the barrel of the bat is drooping when they swing, the bat is too heavy.
Consider "drop weight" too. Drop weight is calculated by subtracting the weight of the bat in ounces from the length of the bat in inches. So an 18-ounce bat that's 30 inches long will have a drop weight of -12. The higher that number the lighter the bat.
Wood is the classic material for baseball bats. Ash, maple and birch are the most common woods used to make bats. Maple bats are fairly stiff but durable. Ash and maple are softer and will produce a kind of springboard effect many players appreciate.
Aluminium bats tend to be more affordable than wood, perform equally well regardless of temperature, and last longer than wooden bats. The downside is they tend to have a smaller sweet spot.
Composite bats are not so common but they do produce less of a sting when the hitter makes contact due to their larger sweet spot. You’ll pay more for a composite bat, and they’ll take about 200 hits to break in.
How to Measure Baseball Bat Size: Conclusion
Baseball bat measurement is an important thing to get right. If a bat is too long or short it will disrupt the player’s mechanics. If the bat is the wrong length it’s also likely to result in the wrong part of the bat being over the plate during the swing, which will result in less effective contact with the baseball. Less effective contact equals fewer hits and your child perhaps not making the team.