Effective January 1, 2018, USA Baseball, the national governing body for the sport of baseball in the United States, will adopt a new method for measuring bat performance for testing youth baseball bats. Since the new USABat Standard may affect your bat purchase decisions, we will break down every part of the new rule change, including what changes to expect, why a change is being made, and who this new standard will affect.
What are the key takeaways regarding these new youth baseball bat rules?
- In order to maintain the integrity of youth baseball, the USABat Standard will create wood-like performance in youth bats while allowing younger players to use light-weight bats that could not be achieved with wood bats.
- AABC, Babe Ruth / Cal Ripken, Dixie, Little League, and PONY will all be affected by the USABat rule change, but USSSA will not. Currently, USSSA Baseball will allow the use of a bat that carries the new USABat stamp (as long as barrel diameter, drop weight, material specifications, etc. match the specific division's requirements).
- AAU will vote on whether or not to adopt the USABat Standard in the Fall.
- USABat will not have a drop weight limit.
- USA Baseball will allow the use of 2 big barrel bats for all age levels.
- BBCOR bats are permitted for Intermediate (50-70) Division and Junior League Division, but must be labeled with a silkscreen or other permanent certification mark.
What will the USABat Standard change and why?
But, unlike the -3 length-to-weight ratio restriction that is required for BBCOR bats, USABat will not have a drop weight limit. Instead of requiring the use of wood bats, which are often found with a -8 length-to-weight ratio at the lightest, younger players will still be able to use bats made from light-weight, highly engineered materials.
With the creation of the new standard, players within the affected organizations will also now be allowed to use bats with either a 2 or 2 barrel diameter, as long as they carry the new USABat stamp.
What National organizations will be affected by the new bat standard?
- American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC)
- Babe Ruth Baseball / Cal Ripken Baseball
- Dixie Youth Baseball
- Little League Baseball
- PONY Baseball
- Dizzy Dean
USSSA Baseball and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) will not be affected by the USABat Standard and Youth Big Barrel bats with 2 and 2 barrel diameters will still be produced with the USSSA BPF 1.15 certification. Dizzy Dean players 13 and under will need to use a USABat bat or a BBCOR bat.
What will the USABat logos look like on the baseball bat?
Here is where the logos will be placed on the bat, as well as what the logo will look like.
What about Tee Ball bats?
Unlike standard youth baseball bats, tee ball bats (lengths 26" and shorter) are not required to undergo lab testing to receive approval under the USABat Program. However, to be approved for play within the participating National Member Organizations, tee ball bats must feature the USA Baseball mark and accompanying text that reads Only For Use With Approved Tee Balls.
- Approved tee ball bats (26" and shorter) under USABat will feature the USA Baseball mark.
- USA Baseball will make a sticker program available that will allow individuals to purchase stickers to mark personal tee ball bats that were purchased prior to the implementation of the USABat Standard.
- JustBats.com will also have bats with the stickers, which will read Only For Use With Approved Tee Balls, available for tee ball bats that were manufactured before the new rule.
What about Wooden bats?
Wood bats for Little League play will be be affected by USA Baseball's bat standard. Here is how:
- Solid, one-piece wood bats will be allowed with or without the USA Baseball mark.
- Multi-piece wood bats must have the USA Baseball mark in order to be allowed.
- These youth bamboo wood bats are not approved for USA Baseball Leagues.
Other notes regarding the new USABat Standard.
- The organization that will adopt the USABat rule change will also then allow players to use a bat with either a 2 or 2 inch barrel diameter, as long as it bears the new USABat stamp).
- All current league-approved bats can be used through December 31, 2017.
- With the implementation date of 2018, bat manufacturers are allowed sufficient time to conduct necessary research, design, testing, and manufacturing of these new bats.
- Bats that are regulated by the new USABat Standard will be available to purchase on September 1, 2017.
*This page will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.
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