With softball bats you have many choices with one of the main ones being the weight distribution throughout the bat. There are two choices here with your bat being balanced or end-loaded.
With a balanced bat, the weight is more evenly distributed along its length meaning the weight is evenly spread throughout the bat and therefore easier to hold and quicker to swing.
The alternative to a balanced bat is an end-loaded bat which has more weight in the barrel of the bat, this puts added stress on your wrists as the majority of the weight is far from the body and is generally more difficult to swing.
Which one is right for you comes down to your physical make up, what type of hitter you want to be and which one feels the most natural.
Does it depend on how powerful you are?
End-loaded bats are more difficult to handle which naturally leads to the assumption that these kind of bats are for powerful hitters, but that’s not always true. The added weight in the barrel of the bat means that you are able to hit further than which balanced bats, and of course, everyone wants to hit the ball as far as they possibly can. Whilst they are more difficult to swing, smaller players may still be comfortable with an end-loaded bat if they want to get more distance on their hits, and willing to sacrifice a bit of contact on the ball in order to do so.
Balanced bats offer a cleaner feel but are more limited on distance. The natural instinct is that more powerful hitters should go for an end-loaded bat, but if you’re able to hit it deep with a balanced bat, then you could have the easy control of a balanced bat to go with your natural power.
Therefore it isn’t a simple question of size and power, even though that will most likely be the biggest factor in determining what bat is best for yourself.
Should I hit for power or average?
Finding the right balance between power and average is a never ending debate in any form of softball or baseball. The general rule is the harder you try and hit the ball, the less likely you are to hit it because you are swinging harder, meaning adjustments can’t be made and there is also a loss of balance.
If you are a contact hitter who consistently wants to put balls in play then a balanced bat would be best for you, it offers the lightest pick-up and a much easier swing meaning more contact will be made with the ball. Players who hit the ball deep can be the difference between a win and a loss, so if you feel that your bat may be the difference in that ball being inside or over the wall, an end loaded bat would be your best shot at being the hero as long as you feel comfortable in handling its more difficult swing.
Sacrifices always have to be made when it comes to wanting a clear and light swing of your bat, either with weight or if your bat should be balanced or end loaded. It’s about working out what type of hitter you want to be.
Which one should I choose?
The choice shouldn’t be automatic based on your size, careful consideration would have to be given to what you want to achieve from your bat. Some powerful players may not have the best hand-eye coordination and even though they can swing an end-loaded bat easily, may not be able to get any hits with it. While hitting it deep may be the best feeling in the sport, there is nothing more demoralising than going through a long cold spell with no hits.
The end goal is to get as many bases as possible and you need to choose that bat they gives you the best chance of doing that. You need to take your own attributes into account and decide what you need from your bat, more contact, or more power.