Millions of Americans play softball, from kids and teens to adults in recreational leagues. Softball tournaments bring huge numbers of players into a community, and families and residents alike enjoy taking in the games.
Of course, to play successfully you need the right equipment. This includes a fastpitch softball bat, a deep-pocketed softball glove, and athletic shoes with cleats.
Some fastpitch softball bats need to be broken in. Knowing what bats need to be broken in and how to do so is essential to success on the softball field.
Choosing a Fastpitch Softball Bat
When you are choosing between fastpitch softball bats, you have to consider the length of the bat, it’s weight, and what it’s made of.
A longer, heavier bat is good for larger players and can help you have more power in your swing. Smaller players enjoy smaller bats, which give them a faster swing.
The drop of the bat is also significant. The drop is determined by subtracting the weight of the bat in ounces from the length of the bat in inches. The acceptable drop for a bat according to the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) is between -10 and -13.
The final consideration is whether the bat is aluminum or composite. Aluminum bats have been more popular for quite some time, but composite bats are gaining popularity and have advantages over aluminum models.
Of course, you should be sure that you’re following the rules of your team and league as well. When you choose a high-quality fastpitch softball bat that feels right when you swing it, you’ll enjoy your playing experience during every game.
Know if Your Bat Needs to Be Broken In
Depending on the bat you choose, you may need to break it in.
This process doesn’t have to take a lot of time, so don’t be afraid to get a new bat mid-season. As long as you have an hour or two to break it in, the bat will work perfectly for you.
An aluminum bat doesn’t have to be broken in. It will be nice and hot right out of the store.
However, a composite bat does need a breaking in period. Composite fastpitch softball bats have carbon fibers that need to be loosened before the bat reaches peak performance.
The Process of Breaking in Fastpitch Softball Bats
Breaking in your fastpitch softball bat shouldn’t take longer than a typical practice session.
Don’t be tempted to break in your bat using illegal methods such as rolling or shaving that are against the rules of the ASA. Instead, take some regular batting practice and your bat will be broken in and ready to use.
Half-Speed Off a Tee
When you break in fastpitch softball bats be sure that you are using a regulation leather softball.
You want the bat to impact a ball that you will encounter in game situations. Rubber balls develop pock marks that can damage your bat.
Start by hitting 100 balls off a tee, using correct form but only 50% power. Hitting full power immediately can damage the bat. You don’t want to hit half-speed or slow pitches because doing so will mess with your timing and form.
Rotate the Bat ¼ Turn Between Hits
You want to make sure your bat breaks in evenly, so rotate the bat ¼ turn between each hit.
You may have a composite bat that is marked around the diameter, showing you how much to turn it each time.
If you don’t rotate your bat, you may damage it or miss a particular area, which can cause problems during a game.
Take 50 Short Lob Pitches
After you’ve done 100 half-speed pitches from a tee, have someone throw you lob pitches from a short distance away.
You’ll be using a slightly faster speed and more power, but not quite 100 percent yet.
If no one is available to pitch you short lobs, you can use a pitching machine. Make sure it’s set to pitch slowly without an arc so that you can maintain your form and timing.
Continue rotating your bat with every hit.
Hit 50 Fast Pitches
Finally, hit 50 regular fast pitches with your new bat, continuing the ¼ turn rotation as you go.
As you do, you’ll notice the performance of your bat improving. Keep hitting until you’re comfortable with the bat’s performance.
That’s all you need to do – your bat is broken in! If you’re not confident with it yet, use it for a few more batting practices before a game. However, you don’t need to limit speed or power after the break-in process.
Considerations When Breaking in Your Bat
Besides following the method discussed above, it’s important to avoid some other pitfalls.
First, don’t skip the process of breaking in a new composite bat. You may want to use it immediately in a game, but remember that it won’t perform well until the carbon fibers are loosened.
Also, using it right away with full power can damage the bat, and uneven use can cause the bat to perform irregularly. You don’t want to take those risks during your competitions!
Secondly, be careful to not break in your fastpitch softball bat during very cold weather. The balls you use during your break-in session should be at least 60? A cold ball can damage your new bat before you’ve broken it in.
Choose the Best Composite Softball Bat
Choosing the best composite softball bat is a matter of doing a little research and taking some test swings at the store. Some recommended models include:
Some recommended models include:
- DeMarini CF9. For a truly top-of-the-line bat, choose The DeMarini CF9. The DeMarini CF9 has a huge sweet spot, is approved by all softball associations, and is designed to minimize sting in the hand when you connect with the ball. The design is excellent, and the bat feels great.
- Louisville Slugger® LXT Hyper Fastpitch Bat ’17. This Slugger made our list of best softball bats for 2017. It’s highly durable, has maximum power with a larger sweet spot, and has the technology to limit sting and vibration to your hands.
- Worth FPL109. Worth fastpitch softball bats are another excellent choice. The FPL109 is lighter and more durable than previous versions, has a balanced swing weight for maximum speed, and has a great sweet spot. It’s certified by all of the associations and has no sting or vibrations during play.
If you’re interested in learning more about great fastpitch softball bats, we’re here to help. Our buying guide tells you everything you need to know, and we regularly review bats so you can have all the facts you need to make a purchase.
We’re the perfect one-stop location for all your softball bat information!