How To Select a Baseball/Softball Bat

Whether you play Little League baseball or for a major league baseball team, buying a bat is a personal decision. New technology has delivered bats that not only enhance performance but also are tailored to an individual player's strengths. It is essential that you select a bat that fits your unique body configuration and skill level - height, weight, and hitting strength. 

  • Understanding Bat Materials 
    • Aluminum
    • Graphite/Titanium Lined
    • Wood 
  • Determine The Bat That Fits Your Body 
    • Age
    • Height and Weight 
  • Determining the Right Bat Weight
  • Understanding Bat Technology 
    • Barrel Size
    • Taper
    • Grip 
  • Bat Specifications
  • Where To Buy A Bat?

Understanding Bat Materials

The world of bats now offers a large variety of choices in materials. These can be broken into three primary categories: aluminum, graphite- and titanium-lined, and wood. Each provides its own unique characteristics and advantages for today's players. 


  • This has been a player favorite for several years now
  • Lighter weight which increases control and bat speed
  • Aluminum and the other metals also offer durability
  • Despite generally higher costs than other materials, aluminum is durable and not prone to crack or break
  • Aluminum bats come in a variety of alloys each with a different weight
  • Generally, lighter aluminum alloys are thinner and more durable. The one thing these have in common is that they are all different combinations of Zinc, Copper, Magnesium and Aluminum. The following is a list of the different alloys and their benefits. 
    • 7046: This is the standard aluminun alloy used in most bats
    • Cu31/7050 : More durable than 7046, due to increased levels of zirconium, magnesium, and copper
    • C405/7055: Increased Zirconium content than 7050, giving higher strength
    • C555 : 7% stronger than C405, has traces of scandium, which increases strength 
  • Lighter weight bats also increase the "sweet spot," the hitting zone on the bat's barrel that gives the maximum place to put metal to ball.
  • Aluminum bats, and those enhanced with other alloys, also come in single-layer or double-layer construction
  • Double-layer bats offer more durability and power, since the ball rebounds off the bat with more authority
  • Cryogenically treated aluminum - Alloy is frozen and reheated to provide greater durability, less vibration and 2-4% greater distance

Graphite/Titanium Lined

  • Technology has enabled bat makers to use lighter, stronger materials. Graphite and titanium are just two of these.
  • Both are usually added to thinner-wall aluminum bats, enabling bats to be lighter and increasing a player's swing speed
  • These materials also increase durability and the batter's sweet spot
  • Graphite and titanium also help reduce vibration and the sting of ball shock, the tingling feeling sent to the hands usually when you miss hitting the ball in the bat's sweet spot


  • Wood bats offer a classic feel and sound
  • Look for a grain that is long and wide, which indicates a tree's age and density
  • Wood bats offer more choices in shape and taper that can be customized to a player's swing
  • Wood has three big disadvantages: 
    • Bats crack and break, becoming firewood 
    • Reduced sweet spots on the barrel
    • Far less hitting power than metal bats 

Determine The Bat That Fits Your Body

There are some standard rules of thumb in selecting the appropriate bat length. The charts below offer some guidelines based on age and weight and height. 


  • Using your age as a guide, use the chart below to determine the bat length that fits your body 

Bat Length By Age

Age Bat Length
5-7 years old 24"-26"
8-9 years old 26"-28"
10 years old 28"-29"
11-12 years old 30"-31"
13-14 years old 31"-32"
15-16 years old 32"-33"
17+ years old 34"

Height and weight

  • Height and weight are usually better ways to determine what bat length may work best for you
  • Once again, use the height and weight chart to give you a general idea of the length of bat that fits your body

Bat Length By Height and Weight

Weight (pounds) Height (inches)
  36-40 41-44 45-48 49-52 53-56 57-60 61-64 65-68 69-72 73+
Bat Length
less than 60 26" 27" 28" 29" 29"          
61-70 27" 27" 28" 29" 30" 30"        
71-80   28" 28" 29" 30" 30" 31"      
81-90   28" 29" 29" 30" 30" 31" 32"    
91-100   28" 29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 32"    
101-110   29" 29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 32"    
111-120   29" 29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 32"    
121-130   29" 29" 30" 30" 31" 32" 33" 33"  
131-140    29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 32" 33" 33"  
141-150     30" 30" 31" 31" 32" 33" 33"  
151-160     30" 31" 31" 32" 32" 33" 33" 33"
161-170        31" 31" 32" 32" 33" 33" 34"
171-180           32" 33" 33" 34" 34"
180+             33" 33" 34" 34"

Determining The Right Bat Weight

  • Most bats are weighted in ounces
  • Manufacturers have done a great job in balancing the bat's weight to its length
  • Many bats have a weight-to-length ratio, often shown as -4, -6, etc.
  • This basically means a 34-inch bat with a -6 ratio weighs 28 ounces
  • Selecting weight really depends on two critical factors - your strength and your hitting style
  • It also depends a lot on your personal preference in weight and length, so the following are simply guidelines to follow: 
    • Bigger, stronger players generally prefer a heavier bat since they get the benefits of both the heft and swing power
    • Smaller players with less strength should consider a lighter bat to generate a quicker swing
    • Younger players (under 12), should consider that a lighter bat increases control - great for singles hitters, while also reducing the risk of injury.
  • A general rule of thumb for the real young players under age 10 is to select a bat weight that is at least 10 ounces less than the length (-10). For age 10 to 13 (not in high school), consider the heaviest bat that you can hold near the end of the handle in one hand with your arm out horizontal and the barrel down, and then you can twist your arm to bring the barrel of the bat to the horizontal position without having to bend your arm at the elbow or tilting your torso.

Understanding Bat Technology

Bat technology may seem a little confusing but it's not rocket-science. There are three essential elements to a bat: barrel size, bat taper and grip. 

Barrel size

  • This includes both the length of the barrel - top part of the bat - and its diameter
  • The longer the barrel, generally, the larger the sweet spot for hitting the ball
  • As for diameter, the standard is 2 1/2, inches but many players prefer a smaller barrel that lightens weight and provides more swing speed


  • This is the diameter of the bat's handle
  • Standard bats are tapered 31/32 of an inch but can be slightly larger or smaller depending on whether you want a lighter or heavier bat
  • You may prefer the feel of a bigger bat taper, which can also reduce the sting when a ball isn't struck on the sweet spot
  • Some players like a narrower taper for the lighter weight and to rotate their wrists faster when hitting


  • The grip is simply the covering that bat manufacturers use on the handle of aluminum bats
  • Rubber grips absorb more of the shock
  • Leather or synthetic leather gives a tackier feel for a surer grip
  • Some bats come with a cushioned grip to decrease the shock even more

Bat Specifications

  • Effective January 1, 2001, all High School baseball bats will be limited to a 2 5/8" maximum barrel diameter and a -3 oz weight to length ratio. This is called the new "-3" rule.
  • These are the same specifications that were recently adopted by the NCAA.

Where To Buy A Bat?

If you need a bat real fast you can go to Sports Authority or Galyans. If you want to save some money, you can get good prices at several internet sports stores and have the bats in 2 to 3 days. My favorite is for the largest selection and prices and delivery. also has a good selection and good prices. The next ones that are pretty good in terms of selection is and then At all of these it is a good thing to get their catalog since their web sites do not all show all of their catalog items.

This has been adapted from info from and for reference by parents of baseball teams I coach.


This page has had [an error occurred while processing this directive] visits since March 14, 2001.
Page created by:
Andy Stadnik. Last Update: March 15, 2001.