When choosing the right barrel size, you need to consider the leagues in which the bat will be used. For most softball league matches such as USSSA, ISA, NSA, ISF and ASA, the barrel size requirements require that the diameter of the barrel must not exceed 2 inches.
Even apart from the league requirements, barrel size is a very important part of a softball bat. A player will need to try different bats with varying barrel sizes before finding the one that fits the bill.
Typically, a bat with a thicker barrel will be heavier it will offer more swing force but it will be slower to swing. A thinner barrel, on the other hand, will comes with less impact power but more speed.
Different softball bats make use of different handle. Some bats come with a stiff handles while other comes with more flexible, softer handles. Both have their pros and cons.
A stiff handle is fairly fixed and rigid but the good thing about it is that when it is coupled with a soft barrel with more trampoline, the stiff handle does not register a lot of sting on the player’s hands.
This is important because the sting from mishit shots can be very annoyingly felt on softer handles. Softer handles are flexible and are easier to swing but their downside is the excessive amount of sting they offer in imperfect shots.
Another important part of the handle is the grip. Many different types of grips are added to the handles of softball bats to mitigate the sting. Grips are usually made of synthetic leather, rubber or other materials. A player should choose a handle with a grip which is a good balance between a solid hold and minimum sting.
The taper of a softball bat is a very important part of the bat’s design. It is that part of the bat where the barrel thins down and transitions into the handle. Typically, softball bats come with an average bat taper of 0.97 inches.
Some bats may pack a thicker taper while others have thinner tapers. A thicker taper is useful in that it minimized the shock of the impact, therefore mitigating any sting that may come from the barrel to the handle. But the downside of such a thick taper is that it makes the handle weightier, reducing swing speeds.
A thinner taper is light-weight and offers great swinging speeds. It also lets the player add impact to the shots with quick wrist-action. But thin taper allows most of the ball shock to come to the handle. Consequently, the player has to suffer from the sting of mishits.
The weight of a bat is an important component in terms of performance. In broadly general terms, a bat which carries more weight is able to hit harder but is slower to swing. A bat which is light-weight is less impactful in hits but it is quick in swinging.
Weight drop is a very important measure of softball bats. It is the difference between the length and weight of a bat, and is usually a negative value. For instance, if a bat is 34 inches long and has a weight of 26 ounces, it had a weight drop of 8. Different leagues have varying weight drop requirements, so the players should know the league requirements before buying the bat.
Bat length is of importance because a player can perform best only when wielding the bat of right length. To find the right length of the bat, a player should grasp the handle with both hands right next to the knob. Next, the player should hold the bat to her side without slouching.
If the bat touches the ground, it means that it is of the right length. If the player has to readjust the grip on handle, it means that the bat is longer than ideal. If the bat does not reach the ground, it is too short. As a general guide, the following table can also be used to measure the right length for any player:
Typically, softball bats are made from aluminum or composite materials. Aluminum bats are made of aluminum or an aluminum alloy, and have a single-walled barrel. They are light-weight, easier to swing and have good trampoline effect. But aluminum bats have smaller sweet spots.
Composite bats, on the other hand, usually have double-walled construction. They are heavier in comparison to aluminum bats and also offer a lesser trampoline effect but they have larger sweet spots and are far more durable.
All most the best softball bats made by composites materials. So, you just consider that when you choose the bats.
Every softball bat is minimally required to be ASA approved. This can be ascertained by making sure of an ASA-certified stamp which will be placed somewhere on the bat. Most softball league matches do not allow the use of any bat which is not ASA-approved.
One or two piece
One-piece bats are made in a design with no breaks, so that they have an overall rigid and stiff feel. These bats offer maximum power on impact but have comparatively slower speeds.
Two-piece bats are constructed in two parts and are more flexible. They are faster to swing although less forceful in impact. They are also more comfortable to use compare to one-piece bats.
Slowpitch and Fastpitch softball bats
Slowpitch softball bats
Slowpitch bats, as the name suggests, are meant for hitting slow balls. They are typically designed for balls at speeds of or around 25 mph. Consequently, slowpitch bats are heavier since they don’t have to be very light-weight for quick swinging. The weight of slowpitch bats ranges from 26 ounces to 30 ounces. They range from 33 to 34 inches in length and have a 2 inch barrel.
Fastpitch softball bats
Fastpitch bats are meant for use in such softball games where the ball is thrown at a speed greater than 80 mph. So the overall design and manufacture of fastpitch bats is done with an eye to enable rapid, lightning-quick swinging.
The weight of fastpitch bats is typically less than slowpitch bats since they need to be swung quickly. Fastpitch bats range in weight from 23 to 28 ounces and their length ranges from 32 inches to 34 inches. Like slowpitch bats, fastpitch bats also have a barrel diameter of 2 inches.
Best Material for softball bats
Wood is considered the classic material for the manufacture of softball bats but it is not the best in an overall comparison. Wood softball bats are usually from ash, maple or composite types of wood.
They are usually quite durable and come with good grip and control during swinging. Wooden bats usually have either a low-density or high-density composition. Low-density wooden bats are light-weight but they may not be durable and usually break down fairly soon.
High-density bats are heavier but they offer a more solid hitting and last much longer. In comparison to alloy and aluminum, wood bats offers little to no trampoline effect which is a major disadvantage of wood as the manufacturing material.
Alloy bats, as the name suggest, are made from an alloy material, usually a mixture of aluminum with other materials. So they are basically a non-pure type of aluminum bats and their characteristics also differ them significantly from pure aluminum bats.
Alloy bats have a single-piece construction which gives them thinner barrels. These offer great trampoline effect and are able to hit the balls harder and farther.
Alloy bats are also quite sturdy and able to endure for a long time without a lot of wear and tear. They are better than wooden bats in terms of performance but aluminum bats are better than them.
Aluminum is the best material for use in the manufacture of softball bats. The best thing about aluminum bats is that they usually have single wall constructions of the barrel. This give aluminum barrels a lot of trampoline effect, letting the players whip the balls into great distance.
Given their single-wall construction, aluminum bats are also very light-weight which makes it possible for the players to swing them with lightning-fast speeds. Aluminum bats are also more durable and last a long time. Most top softball professionals prefer aluminum bats over bats made from any other material.