Slow paced games played during our ancestors are long gone. With competitive spirits and dominance of youth, fast-pitch events are taking over the conventional sports. One such very popular game fancied and enjoyed by both the genders is Fastpitch softball.
Similar to baseball, this game includes bunting and stealing bases, without any ‘leading off’ influencing it. However, let’s not go into the depths of it, rather focus on the factors affecting the choice of fastpitch softball bat.
To address the frequent inquiries made by parents, here are some expert opinions, encapsulated below, for them seeking suggestions on fastpitch softball bat.
1. Your Child’s Age
In order to ensure a smooth swing, a child has to get a good grip over the fastpitch softball bat, ensure a favourable stance, position body accordingly and stay vigilant as the ball approaches its way. However, none of this is possible without the right length-weight ratio or in other words, a supportive drop score.
Although the same differs from one person to another, depending much on one’s personal preference, strength and hitting mechanics, for kids, it’s better to stick to the norms. Take a look at the recommended size for each age groups.
Ages 8 and below
The recommended drop weight for kids belonging to this age group is -12 to -14.
Age 8 to 14
A drop weight ranging between -12 and -10 spells fair for children of the mentioned age group.
Ages 14 and above
Lastly, for those included in this age range, a drop weight of about -11 to -8 sounds appropriate.
Drop weight, as suggested before, indicates a mere difference between length and weight. If you watch closely at the figures mentioned above, you would notice a significant plunge in drop weight as a player gets older. Alternatively, an inverse relationship between the age of a player and the dimensions of the bat should always be maintained.
2. The Fastpitch League One’s Participating In
Leagues organising a match have their own set of rules and regulations. Not every fastpitch softball bats are approved by them so your child has to be extra careful and discuss the specifications with the coach, well ahead of the game.
However, to save you from all the hassles, here’s a guide. Go through it before investing in a fastpitch softball bat for your junior.
ASA (Amateur Softball Association)
For ASA certified leagues, bats having an aluminium, graphite, fibreglass, wood or any other composite material core, are accepted. So always ensure the same, when you gift your child a swanky and brand new bat before a game.
Also, since an ‘ASA Certified 2004’ stamped bat is appreciated, it’s always better to stick to the standards as much as possible. This is primarily because the league is very particular about batted ball speeds, accepting a maximum of 98mph.
USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association)
USSSA certified leagues, on the contrary, accepts bats with a Bat Performance Factor (BPF) of 1.20 and a 98 MPH certification. As for material, the specifications are more or less the same as those witnessed in ASA.
NSA (National Softball Association)
Again, for NSA approved leagues, an ‘NSA 2012’ logo is mostly entertained, with the bat performance factor score same as that of USSSA and ASA.
3. Aluminium or Composite fastpitch bats
Today’s batters are spoilt for choices because wood is not the only option available nowadays. With aluminium and composite bats making an entry into the market, players are now faced with a choice dispute. However, to make it simple for you to decide, here are some advantages of each.
Features & Advantages of Aluminium Fastpitch Bats:
- Light in weight
- Faster swing
- Propels a ball farther away
- Apt for beginners
Characteristics and Benefits of Composite Fastpitch Bats:
- Lightest in weight
- Popular among players
- On contact, ball speed is the greatest
- Allows players to reach their potential
Weighing the advantages bring us to the conclusion that composite ones excel in terms of performance while aluminium ones prove ideal for those having a low budget. Since kids are mostly beginners, aluminium serves the purpose well. However, for frequent players or power hitters, composite bats shall always top the preference list.
4. One Versus Two Piece
The choice of one and two piece fastpitch softball bat depends entirely on bat speed. While the prior, made up of a single material throughout, complement a power hitter, the latter type, comprising of a handle and barrel, proves to be a viable option for contact hitters.
The difference lies primarily in the amount of flex, which is minimal in one-piece and maximum in a two-piece. In simpler terms, this suggests no loss of energy in the prior, resulting in a power hit, making it an ideal option for kids participating in leagues.
The key to a durable product is its composition. While composite ones constitute a layered material, primarily of carbon fibre; aluminium/alloy ones, as the name suggests, boast a mixture of more than a single metal. For parents seeking the best bat deal for their children, aluminium made fastpitch softball bats turn out to be the most durable out of the two.
Choice of fastpitch softball bat ultimately comes down to personal preference and the skill sets of the young player. While strong and regular league participants are better off with a one-piece bat, beginners would be more comfortable with a two-piece structure.
Only a meticulously crafted stick brings out the most from every swing. Therefore, to maximise performance, each of the components, right from material to weight balance, everything has to be perfect for the particular age group.
However, irrespective of all that, in essence, the rule stays unchanged and that it – ‘Older the kid, longer should be the lever’.
Lastly, it’s always prudent to have a healthy discussion with the coach, in order to keep a track of the changes in rule-book followed by leagues.
Roger Walker is Chief Editor at Citegeist.com. He love writing and sports. He will write about the sports that he is participating in this blog.