How do you size a youth baseball bat for a kid?
Your child has just started playing baseball and needs a bat. With so many types, lengths, and weights to choose from, you may have more questions than answers when it comes to buying a new bat.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- how to measure your kid for a bat
- bat specifications
- league regulations on bats
Measuring for a Youth Bat
To measure for younger players, you can always follow a simple size chart like the one you will see when you scroll down this "How Do You Size a Youth Baseball Bat For a Kid?" guide.
Ideally: shorter, younger players should swing a lighter, shorter bat.
The shortest recommended length for kids 3’5” to 3’8” is 27 inches, and the longest for teenagers 6’ and over is 34 inches.
When you measure a bat for your child, start with the bat’s length. Place the bat next to your kid with their cleats on. If the bat reaches to just below their hip, it’s a good length.
If it extends to their hip or higher, then it’s too long. This test is good for young players, ages 8-10. But as they get older, around 11 or 12, their growth will accelerate and this test won’t be accurate anymore.
When the hip-length test no longer works, measure the bat against the length of your child’s arm.
Place the knob of the bat on their chest and have them extend their arm out parallel to the bat. If their hand can reach the barrel, then it’ll be a decent length.
Once you’ve measured length, you should size your child for bat weight.
Again, you’ll want to take the child’s height and weight into account, by referring to the size chart.
Another in-store test you can try is to have your player extend their arm straight out while holding the bat perpendicular to their arm.
Next, have them rotate their wrist to move the bat so it’s straight up and down. Rotate again so they're holding the bat off to the other side.
If your kid can do this movement with a relatively stable level of control, then they should be able to handle the bat’s weight. In other words, if they struggle to control the bat during these movements, it’s probably too heavy.
Additionally, you can do a similar test for older players. Simply have your older player hold the bat straight out in front of them with their arm fully extended.
They should be able to hold that position for 20 seconds without dropping their arm. If they can’t, then the bat might be too heavy to swing.
For more info about sizing youth bats, check out this video from YouGoProBaseball.
Another Way to Measure
In addition to height and weight, another characteristic to measure with is your child’s age. As they mention in the above video, age tends to correlate well with bat length.
For example, players aged 8 typically use a 28” bat, players aged 9 used a 29” bat, and so on.
If, however, your child is shorter, taller, heavier, or lighter than average, then make adjustments as needed.
Pick a Bat Your Child Feels Comfortable With.
Ultimately, when it comes down to sizing a youth bat, the best way is to let your kid swing the bat before buying.
When you take them to the store for a new bat, start off with the sizes that should match up to their height and weight.
However, continue to let them swing as many bats as they can, looking for one they seem the most comfortable with.
Older players will be able to tell if a bat feels good in their hands. For your younger player, you can usually tell by watching them swing.
Let’s Talk About Drop
While you’re on the right path so far for sizing your child’s baseball bat, there are a few more things to keep in mind.
One of these is the drop weight. Drop is measured as the difference between a bat’s length in inches and its weight in ounces.
So for example, a bat that’s 28” long and weighs 16 ounces will have a drop of -12.
This is how most bats are measured and sold, and it’s used as an indicator when selecting a bat weight for your player.
You can refer to this chart.
How Do You Size a Youth Baseball Bat For a Kid - Chart
For kids 7 and younger, a drop between -13.5 and -12 is best.
As your player gets older, you should aim to reduce the drop size, going as low as -10 and even -9 by the time they’re 12.
Also, keep in mind the high school and NCAA regulations on the drop; it can’t be more than -3 at these levels.
If your child plans to play high school or college baseball, transitioning to this drop level as they get older would be prudent.
Regulations for Bat Size
Furthermore, the -3 drop rule isn’t the only regulation about bat size. Different leagues have different standards and one bat might not work across all of them.
The three standard-setting governing bodies you should be familiar with are BBCOR, USSSA, and USA Baseball.
BBCOR concerns college and high school bats. In addition to having a drop of -3, they must also have a barrel that’s 2 5/8 inches in diameter, and most wood bats are allowed.
Secondly, USSSA bat regulations are determined by age group, therefore the range of acceptable bats varies.
Finally, all leagues participating under USA Baseball had to adhere to new standards starting in 2018. Only a “USABat” can be used, with no weight restrictions but with a 2 5/8 inch diameter.
Always take note of the rules for the league your child is playing in. Since bats must meet certain standards, manufacturers include a label on the bat indicating if and which league its certified for.
You don’t want to pick out the perfect bat only to find that it doesn’t meet the right standards!
Lastly, sizing a youth bat can certainly be a challenge – if you don’t know where to start.
Moreover, if you have a good understanding of height, weight, and how bats are sized according to drop, then you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the perfect bat for your kid.
In closing, remember, it's not the wand, it's the magician.
How great your kid gets at:
- Having the right approach
- Competing with confidence
- Executing the fundamental mechanics
- Developing superior pitch recognition
...will be the BIGGEST factor in how well they perform at the plate.