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Lighter or heavier softball bat?

How heavy your bat should be is one of the considerations that comes into play where personal pride can get in the way of making the right choice. There is a tendency to want to have the heaviest bat possible in order to show off and make yourself look more powerful. I’m fairly sure however it’ll be better to show off with more hits than being able to swing a heavy bat, you have to find the one that’s right for you.

The heavier the better?

23_softball-batsThe best homerun hitters in Major League Baseball history didn’t swing the heaviest bats they could. The likes of Barry Bonds used a bat that wasn’t too heavy, as you can’t hit the ball far if you don’t get the right contact. There comes a point where a bat gets too heavy for you that you can’t get the right swing, at any level of softball or baseball this is true and means that careful consideration has to be made in order to make the best choice for you.

The science behind the distance

Without getting too technical, Issac Newton’s second law of motion states that Force = Mass x Acceleration. This is very simple if broken down and makes perfect softball sense, and it can be changed into how your bat will perform by amending the formula to Distance = Bat Weight x Swing Speed.

Two things effect how hard a ball is hit:

  1. How heavy the bat is (Mass).
  2. How quickly the bat is swung (Acceleration).

The obvious trade-off here is that the heavier something it, the harder it is too swing. If you imagine a bat the weight of a tree, it would be impossible to swing and you couldn’t hit the ball. If you imagine a bat the weight of a toothpick, it would be impossible to hit the ball any distance.

These are too extremes which show that the answer to your bat weight is a compromise between weight and swing speed and you need to find your own middle ground.

Don’t lose control

You may be thinking at this point about how do you find the point where the weight gets too much that you start to lose too much swing speed? The answer to this question is to go out there and pick up a selection of bats to find which one is right for you.

The bat needs to be smooth through the swing and light enough that you can carry your hands through it with pace, if not then you simply won’t have enough control to get the hits you want.

So should you choose the heaviest bat that you can swing properly? Well, no. As mentioned previously, the best power hitters in baseball history didn’t always use the heaviest bats. Swing speed is crucial in generating power but also the added control of a lighter bat will enable you to get more contact on the ball.

Rather looking at the heaviest bat you can swing, it may be more beneficial to work your way up from the other side of the coin, and make sure you don’t compromise on swing. Whilst you may be able to swing a heavy bat, you may be able to swing a slightly lighter one faster and thereby generating more distance on the ball.

The perfect fit

The answer to what kind of bat you should choose is therefore a compromise. Just like on the bats themselves, there comes a ‘sweet spot’ where weight and swing speed combine to a point which will give you the greatest hitting power.

12_softball-batsA crucial factor that comes into play however is that it’d be a lot worse to choose a bat that was too heavy than one that is too light. Trying to swing a heavier bat will not only mean that you could struggle to get hits, it would also increase your chance of injury in wrists, elbows and shoulders.

The downside to choosing a bat that’s too light would be that you miss out on a slight bit of power, so it’d be wise to go for the lighter option if you are unsure.

Summary

As always, the fine balance between contact and power is a debate that will never stop being talked about in softball or baseball and one of the biggest factors in that is the weight of your bat. In order to not waste money or time on the wrong bat for you, make sure you add in all the factors and take time to find your own perfect compromise between contact and power.

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