SOFTBALL BATS BUYING GUIDE

A bat is a must-have piece of equipment for softball players. But with varying lengths, weights and materials, finding the right one for your skill level and unique swing can be a difficult task. Understanding what to look for when choosing a softball bat has a few requirements. Your league information, some measurements and your personal taste can help you find a perfect stick for your swing. Learn more below or check out our Bat Finder Tool to help discover the perfect bat for your game

BAT ANATOMY

KNOB: Helps keep the bat from slipping out of a batter's hand; Also helpful for hanging on a bat rack for storage

GRIP: Typically covered by tape or a bat gripping aid, this is where a batter will place his or her hands when swinging

TAPER: This section is where the thin handle transiitons into the wider barrel

BARREL: The thickest area of the bat where a batter should look to make contact with a baseball or softball

END CAP: Finishes off the barrel; Often helps increase control while limiting the bat's overall swing weight

DROP WEIGHT

Every fastpitch and t-ball bat has a weight and "drop" weight. Bat weights are shown in ounces, while drop weights are shown as negative numbers

The drop weight is determined by subtracting the weight of the bat from its length

    For example, a bat that’s 30 inches long and weighs 20 ounces will have a drop weight of -10.

The larger the drop weight, the lighter the bat

    For example, a bat with a -13 drop weight is lighter than a bat with a -10 drop weight.

Lighter bats are often best for beginners and smaller, contact-oriented players. Heavier bats are better suited for older, advanced athletes and larger, power-hitting players

Adult Slowpitch Bats do not have drop measurements. Instead, Slow pitch players will need to determine which weight to select, beginning at 24 oz and as heavy as 30 oz

MOST POPULAR DROPS BY AGE

AGE 4-6 7-11 12-14 15 & Above
DROP -11,-12,-13 -10,-11,-12 -10,-11 -8,-9,-10

DICK'S PRO TIP: To determine if a bat is too heavy, here's one simple trick. Hold the bat handle and extend your arm away from your side. If you can't hold the bat extended for 30-45 seconds, the bat might be too heavy for you. 

BAT MATERIALS

The life and performance of a bat is largely determined by the quality of its materials. There are two common bat materials found in performance bats.

COMPOSITE

Composite bats feature a layered carbon fiber or graphite material in the barrel that yields a powerful pop, minimized vibration (or “sting”) on contact and large sweet spot, but typically will cost more and requires a break-in period before use. Composite often feels lighter and is easier to swing than alloy, especially for younger players.

Price: $$

Break-In: Required; Roughly 150-200 hits

Weather Conditions: Not recommended below 65 degrees

Vibration: Reduced vibration; clean and smooth feel on contact

Sound: Crack, like a piece of wood

Sweet Spot: **

DICK'S PRO TIP: For optimal break-in, rotate the bat a quarter turn with each swing, and increase the power level gradually

METAL ALLOY

Metal Alloy bats are durable, versatile and offer a balanced feel. They are usable in any weather condition and require no break-in period. But alloy bats may feel a little heavier for younger players, especially those with double wall barrels - and they tend to have a smaller sweet spot and less pop than composite. More advanced players who have learned to make contact with a smaller sweet spot may prefer the balanced feel of alloy that can lead to faster swing speeds.

Price: $

Break-In: Ready out of the wrapper

Weather Conditions: Any

Vibration: Some Vibration and sting felt on mis-hits

Sound: Ping

Sweet Spot: *

DICK'S PRO TIP: Not all alloy blends are created equal! This will lead to a variation in price on all alloy bats

DETERMINING YOUR IDEAL BAT LENGTH

For fastpitch players, determining the right length of bat is critical to achieving proper swing mechanics and results at the plate. Too long, and you can risk compromising bat speed or accuracy. Too short, and you can limit your plate coverage, giving up a portion of your strike zone. If you're in a store or visiting one of our HitTrax cages, here's a few Pro Tips on how to measure for the proper length:

NOTE: Nearly all Adult Slow PItch Bats will have a length of 34"

If you're unable to hold a bat and measure using the above methods, use this size chart as a guide, based on your height and weight:

FASTPITCH SOFTBALL
  PLAYER HEIGHT (FT/IN)
    3'5-3'8" 3'9"-4' 4'1-4'4" 4'5"-4'8" 4'9"-5' 5'1"-5'4" 5'5"-5'8" 5'9"-6' 6'1"+
PLAYER WEIGHT (LBS.) UNDER 60 27" 28" 29" 29" 29" 29" 30" 31" 31"
61-70 27" 28" 29" 30" 30" 30" 31" 31" 31"
71-80 28" 28" 29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 31" 32"
81-90 28" 29" 29" 30" 30" 31" 32" 32" 32"
91-100 28" 29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 32" 32" 32"
101-110 29" 29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 32" 32" 32"
111-120 29" 29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 32" 32" 33"
121-130 29" 29" 30" 30" 31" 32" 33" 33" 33"
131-140 29" 30" 30" 31" 31" 32" 33" 33" 33"
141-150 29" 30" 31" 31" 31" 32" 33" 33" 33"
151-160 29" 30" 31" 31" 32" 32" 33" 33" 34"
161-170 29" 30" 31" 31" 32" 32" 33" 33" 34"
171-180 29" 30" 31" 31" 32" 33" 33" 33" 34"
181+ 30" 31" 31" 32" 32" 33" 33" 34" 34"

If you don't have access your player's height and weight, here are commonly used bat lengths by age:

RECOMMENDED BAT LENGTH BY AGE
AGE BAT LENGTH
5-7 24"-26"
8-9 26"28"
10 28"-29"
11-12 30"-31"
13-14 31"-32"
15-16 32"-33"
17+ 33"-34

DICK'S PRO TIP:  the charts above should be used solely as a guide - Ultimately, the right bat length will come down to your preference and other determining factors, such as skill level, strength and others.

BAT LEAGUES AND CERTIFICATIONS

When choosing a softball bat for your upcoming season, one of the first things you should look at is your league rules, as this can vary greatly by region

There are 4 major governing bodies for fastpitch softball:

There are 5 major governing bodies for Adult Slowpitch Softball:

USA Softball (formerly ASA), USSSA, Senior Softball USA (SSUSA), ISA and NSA

DICK'S PRO TIP: Your bat will be stamped with one or more of the following logos to certify the bat is legal for certain leagues and tournaments. Check with your coach or a league official to confirm which bat you are allowed to use

USSSA recently updated their stamps for 2021, but any bat bearing the "old" stamp will be legal for play indefinitely!

SOFTBALL LEAGUES & CERTIFICATIONS

WOMEN'S & GIRLS' FASTPITCH

Ages: 7 - Adult 

Drop Weights: -8 through -13

Bat Lengths: 27" through 34"

Stamps(s): USA (formerly ASA) , USSSA, NSA, ISA

Most fastpitch bats will have a balanced swing weight. Certification stamps will remain the same throughout a fastpitch player's career, regardless of age. 

GIRLS SLOWPITCH & TEE BALL

Ages: 8 and younger 

Drop Weights: -10 through -13.5

Bat Lengths: 24" through 32"

Stamps(s): USA (formerly ASA) , USSSA, NSA, ISA and USA for T-Ball Only

Tee Ball players and beginner softball athletes should use a lighter bat with a -12 or -13 drop weight, while older youth athletes can move to -10 or -11 based on their size. Tee Ball bats will be stamped with a USA certification logo. 

ADULT SLOWPITCH 

Ages: 18+ 

Weights: 24oz-30oz

Barrel Lengths: 12-14"

Bat Lengths: 34"

Stamps(s): USA (formerly ASA) , USSSA & SSUSA (Senior), NSA and ISA

Nearly all Adult Slowpitch Bats will have a length of 34," but weights within will vary. For contact/gap hitters, it may be best to choose a bat weight of 26 or 27 ounces. Athletes seeking maximum power and distance at the plate should opt for the heavier weights of 28 or 30 ounces.

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