Coaching Baseball: How to Choose the Right Bat Size

I’m often asked by parents of youth baseball players how to choose the right bat size for my son. Working with so many baseball players from college down to tee-ball I’ve seen everything from 34″ wood bats down to the smallest of aluminum bats.

My stance on choosing the right bat size is to find something as light as you are allowed to swing staying within your league’s rules.

It’s up the parent then, to go out and research the size, types and brands of bats. But to a parent of a youth baseball player, there are so many options out there today…where do you start? Well,to save you time, I spoke with many of the major bat company reps and this is what they told me…

When choosing a bat, keep these factors in mind.

  • The league/association that the player plays in and their regulations
  • Cost
  • Life span of the bat
  • Age of the player
  • Height and Weight of the player
  • Type of material the bat is made of


You really need to do your research before making this big purchase. Brent Legel, Louisville Slugger Regional Rep, stated that one of the first pieces of information to find out is what the regulations are for the particular league or tournament you are playing in. Such as: Little League, Pony Ball, Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken, Dixie, Dizzy Dean, USSSA, NFHS because they all have their own bat regulations. He said it is not unheard of to hear that a parent would purchase a bat, pull the wrapper off to use it in a game only to find out that it was not legal! Easton Territory Manager, Tony Murano, suggested their new Bat Selector Guide. It is really easy to use to find out what’s best for your player. Check it out below.
Easton Bat Selector Guide


Some bats cost over $300 but that doesn’t mean that it’s the ideal bat for your player. Consider more affordable bats especially if your player is growing and/or they have to play in multiple leagues/associations. Some reps that I spoke with talked about seeing youth baseball players with 3 different bats in their bag due to the different regulations in the leagues they play in.

Baseball Gear Button

Life Span of The Bat:

Louisville SluggerDifferent types of materials hold up better and will effect the lifespan of the bat. You need to consider how much use the bat will get, there are different alloys that will hold up to more swings. For instance, you can go with a 7046 alloy which is an affordable alloy that has been an industry standby for years. Or choose a higher end material, like the ST+20 Alloy (Designed for Louisville Slugger). This is the strongest alloy on the bat market today and will last longer.

Age of The Player:

If you are in High School or College ball you will have to swing a Drop 3 (-3) bat that is BBCOR certified. If you are middle school age or younger you will have to abide by your league’s rules which are very different.

Height & Weight of The Player:

This is the easy part. Refer to one of the many bat sizing charts like this one from D-Bat.

D-Bat Sizing Chart

Bat Size Chart by D-Bat

Type of material the bat is made of:

Ever wondered why some bats cost $30 while others cost $300?

  • Alloy: Several different aluminum alloys are used in today’s bats, each with different performance and durability characteristics. The alloy is often the biggest factor in the price difference.
  • Composite: Combines graphite, fiberglass and resin. Composite bats have a unique sound and feel that many batters prefer, as well as a large, forgiving sweet spot.
  • Hybrid: Combines aluminum alloy with composite materials. This gives a batter the best of two worlds: an aluminum barrel with a stiff composite handle.

Now it’s time to choose the correct weight for your bat.

Combat PortantThe baseball bat industry uses the term “Drop” with regard to length to weight ratio. For example, a bat that is a “Drop 3″ or -3 can be a 33” bat that is 30 ounces. Taking the length and subtracting the weight will = your “drop”. So a 100lb youth baseball player should not be swinging a -3 bat, he should be swinging something along the lines of -8 or -10.

Combat sales rep, Mike Dill, gives some great advice on choosing the best baseball bat. He looks for the following criteria relating to weight.

A player needs to choose the correct weight (-3, -5, -8, -10 or -12) based on the child’s strength and bat speed.

A bat that is too heavy will result in a slow swing, loss of balance during the swing, loss of optical vision, and poor control of the bat path as you swing at the ball.

Rep, Mike Dill, went on to say that Combat bats, like the popular 2014 Combat Potent, have an overall 15% larger sweet sport than our next closest competitor…this larger sweet sport and barrel translate into a larger hitting surface and a more balanced swing weight, therefore our bats are super popular with the Little League/Travel Ball kids who desire a larger margin of error…

Can you demo a bat before purchasing one?

Well if you go to Dick’s (or other big box stores) or order online, the answer is no. So the question of, “How to choose the right bat size”, has also led to the the conception of our annual Williamsburg Baseball EXPO which is the largest Bat Demo Day in Southern, VA. The most popular bat company reps (like Easton, Louisville Slugger, Combat, DiMarini and more) will be present with their 2014 bats and gear. You or your player can actually demo the bats in one of the indoor batting cages off live pitching and tees. If you’re planning on investing money in a bat for 2014, compare it to investing in a set of golf clubs. If you’re going to choose the right golf club and demo it before purchasing, wouldn’t you like to do the same with your baseball bat?

Come on out to the EXPO on January 26th at the Virginia Venom Indoor Baseball Facility in Williamsburg and talk to some of the bat reps that contributed to this article, select that perfect bat and give it a try.

Door prizes are given out every 30 minutes. This year we have 2 Andrew McCutchen autographed baseballs to give away. Also meet and greet Bill Brey from the Cincinnati Reds who will be signing autographs…and more surprises.

I Recommend Bat Demo Days for bat sizing like the annual Williamsburg Baseball Expo. Brent Legel, Louisville Slugger Regional Rep

In Conclusion…

My stance as a coach, baseball swing instructor and baseball geek, is to find the lightest thing you are allowed to swing until you are forced to swing a BBCOR -3 in High School. Even in high school, I think the 14-18 year old player should swing the lightest bat. That means he may swing a 32″/29oz instead of the recommended 33″/30oz for his height and weight. That one oz does make a difference believe it or not. He should also have better bat control with the shorter/lighter bat.

It’s so important as a youth baseball player to establish proper fundamentals to have a solid base. As you get older and stronger, you’ll be able to control that heavier/longer bat and square up on the ball more consistently. After all, the goal is to hit the ball hard every time. A big loopy swing with a heavy bat is not going to help and it’s just going to create bad habits that will eventually have to be changed.

Stay on plane…

About CoachK

Owner and head instructor at Colonial Baseball Instruction. CBI serves Southern VA with baseball camps and private lessons. CBI also developed My Coach: Baseball App and sells a variety of baseball training aids.