Choosing a bat for your youth can be a difficult task, regardless of them starting their first softball season or choosing a new bat each year with them outgrowing last season’s bat.
Before starting you should also check your league’s requirements for or restrictions on (if any) bat lengths and weights.
Our easy to read guide will help you choose a bat for your upcoming season.
Choosing a Youth Softball Bat – The Basics
If you want your child to excel at any sport, you first need to provide them with the right equipment. For softball players, gear selection is very important because there are myriad factors that have an impact on play style and performance. Your child’s weight, strength, height and speed isn’t exactly the same as their peers.
So, the best softball bat for them is likely to be different too. This is why it’s important to consider performance levels and bat composition before buying. For example, does your child need a slow or a fast pitch bat? If they’re playing fast ball, their gear must be designed for it (and vice versa). Generally, soft ball bats are heavier and take more energy to swing.
Keep reading for some helpful tips on picking the best softball bat for your child’s next game.
1. Look At Recommended Sizes
Head to a sporting goods store and you’ll find a variety of tools designed to help you make optimum right gear choices. Softball size charts, for instance, are common in these stores. Just look for your child’s current height and weight. Then, read the recommendation provided on the chart. It’ll give you a suitable bat length and weight based on your child’s dimensions.
2. Do Some Quick Calculations
You can also do your own calculations to find an optimal bat length. This is sometimes useful for children who are outside the average height and weight categories for their age group. For example, your son or daughter might be very tall for their age.
To play fast ball skillfully, a child aged 5-7 years needs a bat that’s 61 to 66cm long. Kids aged 8-9 years should play with a bat that’s 66 to 74cm in length. For each year after this, add approximately 2.54cm (or one inch) to the optimum bat length.
3. Know How to Shop for Drop
If you hear the term ‘drop’ used when discussing youth softball, just know it refers to the difference between a bat’s weight and length. The best softball bat for your child is, again, one with a drop that’s suitable for their age range or closely matched to their specific dimensions. Typically, children under ten play better with a smaller drop number (between -13.5 and -10).
4. Don’t Forget to Pick It Up
It may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many people buy softball bats without handling them properly first. To get the perfect match, make sure your child has a chance to touch, carry and manipulate the bat. Let them swing a little (as long as it’s safe to do so) and get a feel for how it sits in their hands.
5. Consider Handle Diameter
While it’s easy to overlook handle diameter, it’s actually a very important feature. It can certainly have a big impact on how your child plays. All softball bats are tapered at the handle end but thickness varies. You may find a slimmer handle more comfortable for a child with smaller, slender wrists. On the other hand, thickness reduces impact vibrations and boosts speed. Consider a compromise between comfort and performance.
6. Find the Right Material
Finally, we come to what is, perhaps, the most important feature of all – the softball bat’s composition and material makeup. There are traditional wooden bats, lightweight alloy bats and bats made from composite materials like cork, felt and polyurethane. The right choice for your child will depend on what type of game they play and the rules laid out by their team, club, league or organization.
Common Types of Fastpitch Softball Bats
Lightweight Alloy Bats
The most common type of alloy bat is the aluminum softball bat. It is lightweight, reasonably strong and inexpensive to buy. For these three reasons, it continues to be a popular choice with little leaguers. One of the biggest advantages is they can be played right away.
Alloy bats don’t require any ‘breaking in’ or practice play before they’ll perform at a high level. They do, however, give a smaller ‘sweet spot’ than wooden bats. So, it’s a little bit harder to hit forcefully and accurately with one of these.
It’s common to find children practicing with wooden bats but using alloy bats for tournaments and competitive matches. It’s because, generally, they’re slower. Wooden bats are heavier to swing. They can be wielded very powerfully but rarely as forcefully as a metal bat.
It’s why some leagues restrict players to wooden bats only – the risk of injury to others is reduced. Wooden bats are particularly well suited to slow pitch games and swinging practice at home or out in the park.
There are many different kinds of composite bat so make sure to do your homework and pick a product that suits your child’s needs. The advantage to using composite materials is they tend to create well balanced bats.
When considering composites, know several different materials have been used to create a bat that’s lighter than wood but more accurate than alloy. The downside is they’re more expensive than either of these. They also need to be ‘broken in’ as a wooden bat does.
Best Softball Bat for 6 Year Old
- -13 Length to Weight Ratio
- Approved for Play in ASA, USSSA, NSA, and ISA
- Endorsed by USA Fastpitch Legend Jennie Finch
- MZ 2200+ Alloy - Creates Optimized Performance while Lowering the Swing Weight
- Ultra-Light Swing Weight
Best Softball Bat for 7 Year Old
- Aluminum alloy with end cap
- Ultra-thin 29/32" handle with All Sports grip
- Certification (98MPH): ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISA, SSUSA, ISF
Best Softball Bat for 8 Year Old
- Fiber Reinforced Composite handles eliminate vibrations and hand sting
- Half & Half means the handle and barrel are performance matched to create optimum flex and recoil with a burst of ball launching energy at impact
Best Softball Bat for 9 Year Old
- Bob, weave...and explode: C6 Composite. This fully carbon composite has a visibly wider weave pattern, giving it more flex than other designs. This creates a trampoline effect when the ball makes contact with the bat-absolutely jumping off the barrel.
Best Softball Bat for 10 Year Old
Best Softball Bat for 11 Year Old
- 100% composite design at a great value
- 1-piece construction for more solid feel
- Great option for younger players who want maximum control and increased bat speed
- 7/8 inch standard fast pitch handle diameter & synthetic comfort grip
Best Softball Bat for 12 Year Old
- Easton's new Hyperlite uses the company's Hyperlite composite barrel technology for an optimized sweet spot that delivers maximum performance.
- The Hyperlite barrel design has an evenly balanced swing weight to create a faster swing speed.
Best Softball Bat for 13 Year Old
- S1iD Technology provides maximum pop on contact and a larger sweet spot
- Two-piece construction with a stiffer feel for increased energy transfer
- Performance PLUS Composite with zero friction double wall design
Best Softball Bat for 14 Year Old
- 10 length to weight ratio
- 2-1/4" barrel diameter
- 2-Piece Pure 360 Composite construction provides thinner walls for more pop and less weight
- IST inner composite technology strengthens bond between the handle and barrel