When stepping up to the plate, nothing's more important to hitting the ball a country mile than smooth swing mechanics. One of the most common culprits behind poor cuts is the bats hitters bring with them to the plate. Too heavy and swings drag—the bat drops below the ball and takes too long to make its way around the plate. Too light, on the other hand, and batters tend to whip their lumber around the plate with just their arms, failing to harness the power of their lower body.
Therefore, for hitters of all ages, one of the keys to building a perfect swing is to use a bat that fits just right. Here's how you'll know which piece of timber is right for you:
Before you go about selecting a new bat, its important to understand the rules of the league in which you're playing. Your level of play will determine the size barrel you can use, as well as the acceptable difference between the bat's length (in inches) and weight (in ounces), or "drop." Most high school leagues require a drop of -3 or smaller, while specifications for little leagues and legion leagues can vary. Before you start swinging, always double check the bat requirements with your coach.
To determine whether a bat is the right length for you, there are two ways you can measure the lumber against your body. For the first method, stand upright and use your right hand to place the knob of the bat in the center of your chest. Extend your left arm outwards, pointing the bat toward your hand. If the end of the barrel lies such that you can cup your left hand around the end of the bat, it should be about the right size. Another way is to stand the bat up on the floor, leaning up against the side of your leg. With your arm at rest by your side, the knob of the bat should come up around your palm.
If you're playing in a league with strict regulations on bat drops, you'll have an easier time choosing the weight that corresponds with a bat of the proper length. For example, for high school players looking for a -3 bat, those who measure for a 32-inch bat could choose to swing one that weighs 31oz (-1), 30oz (-2) or 29oz (-3). There's no hard-and-fast right answer when it comes to choosing a weight, so the best option is to pay close attention to your body as you swing so that you can make the necessary adjustments over time.