by Randy Dykstra, Coach and Parent
I’ve been in baseball quite some time and I’m also an engineer. I’ve become a staunch opponent to what I call the “golfer” syndrome in baseball lately.
Many golfers are too busy or lazy (or old) to work on their game so many believe that they can go and purchase the latest greatest technology to improve their game. Super fiber shafts with lowest possible CGs and computer aided lofts with over-sized heads costing hundreds of dollars per club.
Well IMHO youth baseball has been going the way of golf. Parents want what is best for their child and they figure a better bat will make a better hitter.. They want to try “make” their son into a ball player with money because it is too difficult the real way (too much time and effort required). Some published studies came out in the early 90s that claimed “Lighter is better” for baseball bats and now you can’t find anything with a smaller differential than -8…for youth bats. I have a problem with those studies; they just took the physical components of bat and ball and didn’t apply the kinesiology aspects of the human body. As an example, if a batter was using a 20 oz. bat and switch to one an ounce lighter doesn’t mean player will be able to swing it 5% faster… Nor fast enough to compensate for loss of momentum due to the 5% loss of mass… It is not a simple linear relationship.
As a coach I only notice small differences in the various bats and then usually only when the top strong hitters use them. The differences I’m talking about are maybe 5% to 10% between the new “techno” models and an a old CU31 bat…. and NOT even a fraction of a percent between this years “Super-Duper” model and last years High priced “wonder” bat (now on clearance for 50% off).
My recommendation is to… Buy the heaviest bat your son can still swing with speed. (This may take experimenting to determine) Depending on his size/strength, (also check league affiliation…Little League can only have 2 1/4 in. diameters) I would estimate a 10 year old is around 29 to 31 and at most 32 inches and -7 to -10 oz from that length. My oldest son used a 30/23 bat as a ten year old…(travel ball) and youngest a 30/22. By 12 years old my oldest was using a 32/25 and youngest son a 31/24. Both of my sons are considered top hitters, and I never spent more than about $100 for a bat, but then again the money I saved has gone into hitting lessons.
In conclusion, top colleges are now, recruiting my oldest son who is top hitter. And in High School and college, all I’ve said above is magnified because the bats HAVE TO BE BESR rated. That means every model of bat is tested using a machine to see how fast the ball will travel after it has been hit by that particular bat. A bat can not be BESR certified if it hits a ball ABOVE a maximum allowed “EXIT Speed”. Thus for performance sake (ball exit speed), you can figure that all BESR bats are “CREATED EQUAL” and its just the durability or “balance and feel” or the “paint job” that differentiates them.
See also: How to Choose a Baseball Bat