Choosing the Right Slow Pitch Bat: Beginner's Guide
Finding a Slow Pitch softball bat can be a very diligent task with how large the selection is out there. Let's break it down by a few certain key criteria to be sure you get a bat that fits your needs.
All Slow Pitch bats have a 2 1/4 inch barrel diameter. Slow Pitch bats are 34 inches long and generally weigh from 26 to 30 ounces. Most models come in 26 oz., 27 oz., 28 oz. and 30 oz., while only a few select Slow Pitch models are made in 25 and 29 oz. If you are a bigger player that loves to just mash the ball you probably are looking for something in the 28 oz to 30 oz range. Where if you are a smaller power hitter or a smaller to average sized player in general you will probably want something in the 25 oz. to 27 oz. range.
Another thing to be aware of in Slow Pitch softball bats is that there are balanced and end loaded swing weights. In Balanced models, the bat's total weight is evenly distributed throughout its length and this tends to be the most common choice and swung by most players. The more balanced the bat is, the faster it can be swung and the easier it is to control the barrel through the hitting zone. An end loaded model will have more of its weight oriented towards the end of the bat and these are typically used by big power hitters. With that extra mass in the barrel, a player can generate a ton of momentum which translates to more distance.
Making sure your bat meets your league or tournaments rules is very important. There are many different sanctioned leagues such as ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISA, ISF and Senior Softball. Leagues may require a certiﬁcation stamp so be sure to check your league's listings to see what specs are necessary. Check out JustBats.com for the largest selection of Slow Pitch softball bats.
Choosing the Right Slow Pitch Bat: Balanced vs. End loaded
Slow Pitch softball bats are designed in two distinct weights: Balanced and End Loaded. Players looking to generate as much bat speed possible will be best suited with a balanced model. Contact hitters, or “base hitters”, typically choose balanced models for a smoother swing and more control. With their weight distributed evenly throughout the bat, balanced models feature a lower M.O.I. (Moment of Inertia) than end loaded models. Basically, the lower the M.O.I., the faster the bat can be swung.
However, if a player is able to generate high swing speeds already, they may benefit more from an end loaded bat. With more weight oriented toward the barrel, and combined with high swing speeds, end loaded bats result in more distance. This design is the preferred choice for most power hitters. End loaded bats typically have either a 0.5 oz. or 1 oz. load in the barrel - while some offers end loads as much as 3 oz.
It’s tough to know what weight orientation you would use best. Your selection ultimately comes down to what you’re comfortable swinging. We recommend assessing your own swing during a round of batting practice. If you don’t see the results you want from one style of bat, it may be an indication to switch things up. The best-case scenario would be if you could try out a balanced and end loaded model; side by side.
ASA Slow Pitch Bat Standards
For the 2013 season, ASA has introduced a new certification mark/stamp and a new softball. Bats that carry this new stamp are designed to hit the new, .52 COR 300 Compression softballs. ASA created these new softballs to increase the safety of players. These softballs are bouncier than the previous ASA balls and will be mandatory for ASA softball; beginning January 1, 2014. Bats with the old ASA marks, 2004 and 2000, are still legal; until that date.
There are some ASA leagues out there that require the use of a wood slow pitch bat. Some wood slow pitch bats carry an ASA stamp; while others do not. If you’re going to use a wood slow pitch model in an ASA sanctioned tournament, the bat must carry an ASA stamp.
Even if a bat carries the correct stamp, there are a couple instances where it could be deemed “illegal”. Heavily damaged bats, with a lot of end cap wear or cracks, may not be allowed in a game. Also, the use of an altered bat can result in a ban of 2-5 years from ASA play; the very first time you’re caught.
If you’re not sure which softball a particular ASA bat is approved for your league, feel free to check out the official ASA Slow Pitch rules, or contact our bat experts via phone, email, or live chat.
USSSA and NSA Bat Standards for Slow Pitch
Since January 1, 2013, all bats used in USSSA slow pitch leagues must carry the new USSSA “thumbprint” stamp. USSSA has changed up their testing standard which is why the new stamp was created. NSA also requires slow pitch bats to carry their own stamp, but most bats that have USSSA stamp will also have the NSA stamp.
Bats with the old USSSA stamp are no longer approved for USSSA. However, they are allowed to be used in NSA if they also carry the NSA stamp; until the 2014 season. Wood slow pitch bats are also allowed, but of course, they need to carry the correct stamps for tournament play.
Heavily damaged, dented, or roughed up bats may not be allowed for game-use. And as in every league, altering your bat is strictly prohibited and could earn you a 2-5 year ban from softball.
If you’re still not sure whether a bat is approved for you league, feel free to check out the links to official USSSA and NSA Slow Pitch Rules, or contact one of our bat experts via phone, email, or live chat.
SSUSA Slow Pitch Bat Standards
Senior Softball USA requires that a bat carry a BPF (Bat Performance Factor) stamp of 1.21 or under. Almost all Slow Pitch bats that are approved for ASA, USSSA, and NSA would be allowed in an SSUSA league. Also, if the bat is labeled “Official Softball”, it is likely approved for these leagues.
If a bat exceeds that 1.21 BPF rating, it will not be allowed. And like most leagues, if a bat is dented, warped, cracked, or shows a lot of wear-and-tear, an umpire will likely not allow the bat to be used. Shaving, rolling, or altering a bat in any way is highly illegal and can result in a 5 year to lifetime ban from softball.
If you’re still not sure whether a bat is approved for you league, feel free to check out the links to official SSUSA rule book, or contact one of our bat experts via phone, email, or live chat.
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