Alloy barreled bats do not require a break-in period; they perform their best when they are brand new. Composite-barreled bats will get better over time after they are properly broken in. Our recommended method of breaking in your composite bat is to hit real balls with it. To ensure an even break-in around the entire barrel, it is important to rotate the bat 1/4 turn every 5-10 hits during the break-in process. This method will work better than any other "shortcut" break-in method, such as rolling. Rolling a new composite bat can show an instant performance increase, but we have found that our recommended method will produce better results in the long run while maximizing the life of your bat.
In temperatures under 59 degrees Fahrenheit, bat performance tends to decrease, and are more susceptible to denting and cracking. This is due to the composite material becoming more brittle and the balls becoming harder in colder weather. The best way to combat this problem is to keep your bat as warm as possible. There are many creative ways to do this, but we have found the easiest method is to use a bat warmer. The warmer your bat, the better it can perform in ANY temperature. Keeping your bat warm will also increase it's life span.
There is no need to do any "performance enhancing" alterations to your bat. With proper break-in and bat care, your bat can perform just as good and last longer. Bat "shaving" is a popular method people use to cheat. It is against the rules, will void your warranty and significantly decrease the life of your bat. Not to mention that it creates a safety hazard for the players around you. That said, we do not recommend shaving your bat.
The league or tournament that you play in will determine which certification stamp(s) your bat is required to have for legal play. Occasionally local leagues will ban certain bats, even if they have the correct certification stamp. These will be listed on a league "Banned Bats" list. Be sure to check your league rules before purchasing a bat. Below is a list of different bat certifications and some information about them.
BBCOR stands for "Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution." This measures the "trampoline effect" of the bat barrel. Next to the "BBCOR" on the certification stamp is the number ".50". This means if a baseball with a speed of 100mph hits the barrel of a stationary BBCOR bat, the ball exit speed off the bat will be 50mph or less (which is 1/2 the speed). BBCOR bats are also required to have a drop ratio of (-3) or heavier, as well as a barrel diameter that does not exceed 2 5/8". The BBCOR stamp is required on all High School and Collegiate level play bats.
Youth bats are governed by many different associations, which usually have multiple levels of play in each of them. Youth bats should list all associations they have been approved for, clearly visible on the bat. For more information about the regulations of each youth association, have a look at our Youth Bat Guide. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact us.
USSSA stands for "United States Specialty Sports Association." The USSSA certification is measured by "BPF" (Bat Performance Factor). BPF is simply the increase in the liveliness of a ball hitting a bat compared to throwing a ball against a solid wall (i.e., 20% faster rebound = a BPF of 1.20). The three main BPF ratings are 1.15 BPF, 1.20 BPF and 1.21 BPF. BPF 1.15 is generally used for youth and big barrel baseball bats. BPF 1.20 is usually used for Fastpitch and Slowpitch softball bats. BPF 1.21 is most commonly seen on SSUSA (Senior League Softball) bats.
ASA stands for "Amateur Softball Association." There are two different ASA certification stamps commonly seen on bats these days. The most recent stamp (pictured above on the left) is the new ASA stamp, required by most ASA slowpitch softball leagues and tournaments. The older 2004 ASA stamp (pictured above on the right) is most commonly seen on newer fastpitch softball bats, and older slowpitch softball bats. Some slowpitch softball leagues and tournaments still allow bats with the older 2004 ASA stamp, but always be sure to check with the rules to be certain.
NSA stands for "National Softball Association." The NSA certification stamp is required on any bat used for play in an NSA sanctioned tournament or game.
ISA stands for "Independent Softball Association." The ISA rules bat rules are most commonly adopted by local park and recreation leagues which do not want to conform to the more restricted guidelines of ASA (Amateur Softball Association).
ISF stand for "International Softball Federation." They are the Governing Body for International Softball and Olympic Softball. The ISF certification stamp is required on any bat used for play in an ISF sanctioned tournament or game.
SSUSA stands for "Senior Softball USA". These bats are usually the highest performing softball bats, used in Men's Senior Softball leagues and tournaments. They rarely come with a warranty and are designed to hit the ball the furthest, with the least amount of effort. These bats are usually stamped with the SSUSA stamp and the 1.21 BPF stamp. To view our selection of USSSA approved bats, click here.
Bat Material Types
There are three main types of bat Materials: Alloy, Composite, and Wood. Some bats are constructed using only one of these materials, and some are constructed using a combination of these materials. Below we will discuss some strengths, weaknesses, and characteristics of each.
Composite bats are usually the best performing and highest priced bats. The performance of composite-barreled bats can increase over time, as they "break-in."
Alloy bats are usually more cost effective than composite bats. They generally have a stiffer feel and perform at their best when they are brand new. The performance of alloy barreled bats tends to degrade over time the more hits they get on them.
Wood is the most well known and oldest bat material and is still the only bat material used in professional baseball. There are many different wood types used for bats, each having different characteristics. Wood bats do not usually perform as well as composite or alloy. Some of the most popular wood types are Maple, Ash, Birch, Beech, and Hickory. Bamboo is also used to manufacture bats. Since bamboo is technically a grass, it must be glued together which actually classifies it as a composite material.
Hybrid bats are constructed using a combination of the above bat materials. The most popular combinations are Composite/Alloy and Composite/Wood. The materials are usually combined in a handle/barrel combination. With a composite barrel and a alloy handle, you get the superior performance of a composite barrel and the stiffness of the alloy handle. With an alloy barrel and a composite handle, you get the cost savings of an alloy barrel, with the vibration dampening and flex qualities of a composite handle. With a wood barrel and a composite handle, you get the cost savings of a wood barrel, with the durability, vibration dampening and flex qualities of a composite handle.
What is bat "Drop"?
Bat "Drop" refers to the difference between the weight of a bat in ounces and the length of a bat in inches. It is displayed on most baseball and fastpitch bats in the form of a negative number, such as (-10). To find the drop of a bat, a simple math equation is used (weight - length = drop). For example: If a bat weighs 22 ounces and is 33 inches long, the drop is (-10), because (22 - 33 = -10). The smaller the number, the lighter the bat. For example: A bat with a drop of (-11) is one ounce lighter than a bat with a drop of (-10) if both bats are the same length. And a bat with a drop of (-3) is two ounces heavier than a bat with a drop of (-5) if both bats are the same length. Some leagues have restrictions on which bat drops are legal to use, so be sure to check with your league before purchasing a bat.
Bat Speed vs Exit Speed
Bat speed is the actual speed of the bat barrel as it comes through the hitting zone. There are a number of things that contribute to bat speed such as player strength, flexibility and body mechanics. Bat speed is usually measured in MPH and can be an indication of a players potential for hitting power. This in no way is a direct representation of how far a player will hit the ball because perfect barrel to ball contact is required to realize the potential of bat speed.
Ball Exit Speed
Ball exit speed is the actual speed of the ball as it leaves the barrel of the bat, usually measured in MPH. It is the true indicator of a players hitting power. There are a number of things that contribute ball exit speed such as barrel to ball contact, bat speed, weather conditions, bat technology and ball technology. The most important contributor to ball exit speed is perfect barrel to ball contact. It doesn't matter how hard you swing if you don't make good contact.