Choosing a Softball bat: How Softball Bats Are Like Shoes

If there’s one question I get every season, it’s, “What softball bat should I use?”

Many say the bat doesn’t matter, it’s the person that hits the ball and there is definitely truth to that. While it’s probably true that great softball hitters could “hit the ball with a stick” I still believe your bat choice matters!

When it comes to choice, softball bats are a lot like shoes. After all, wouldn’t a fast runner be able to run fast even without the best shoes (or even without any shoes at all)? Just as a good softball hitter could probably “hit the ball with a stick?”

For this bat/shoe comparison, let’s assume we are looking for shoes to run fast in and a bat to hit well with. Given these objectives, there are 3 major ways that softball bats are like shoes when it comes to choice.

The Wrong Size Negatively Affects Your Performance – Have you ever tried to run fast in shoes that just didn’t fit right?  If they are too big you’ve got extra room on the end and your feet probably slosh around in them.  That’s not going to help you run your fastest.  If your shoes are too small and are squeezing your feet or squishing your toes or digging in to the back of your heel, obviously that’s not going to help you run your fastest either.  The same is true with a bat.  Choose the wrong size – too light, too heavy, too long, too short, wrong balance, etc and you won’t swing or hit your best.

Some Models Are Designed to Perform Better than Others – I think we can agree that when it comes to both shoes and bats, some are cheap/generic vs higher end/name brand.  Obviously, some models are designed to perform better than others (and are often effective at putting a bigger dent in your pocketbook too).  If you’ve got a light weight shoe that supports your foot well and gives it everything it needs to do it’s thing without getting in the way, you’re going to be able to run closer to your best than if you got some generic shoe that isn’t lightweight and doesn’t really have the best design for optimal running.  I believe the same is true for bats.  Let’s say you did choose the right size and all that, there are certain bats that, just because of the nature of the design will send a ball screaming just a bit more than another cheaper, more generic, non-high performance type model.  Plus, just like some shoes fit and sport your foot better than others, some bats have handles that feel and fit better in your hand than others.  Which do you think is going to allow you maximum comfort and performance in your swing?

Even the Best Won’t Make You Better – If you run 3.5 down the line, there’s no shoe in the world that’s going to transform you into a 2.6 base runner.  Same is true with bats.  If you simply don’t have a good swing or aren’t good at tracking the ball, no bat in the world, no matter how expensive or high tech is going to fix that for you.  However, choosing the right tool for the job allows you to execute the skill the best YOU can while choosing the wrong tool can possibly hinder your performance and stop you from executing the skill the best YOU can.

I agree that execution of the skill itself comes from you.  However, the tool you choose for the job can either

  1. allow/help you perform/execute the best you’re capable of or
  2. hinder you from performing your best

Choose the tool, in this case, a softball bat, that

  • is the best fit – is the right size (length, weight, balance, grip), feels the best in your hands, feels the best when you swing, feels the best on contact, and gives you the most confidence
  • doesn’t make you uncomfortable in any way
  • doesn’t take away from your ability to execute your best swing
Kevin Eaton

Hello! I’m Kevin – an openly biased Baltimore Orioles fan; a youth baseball parent; an obsessive-compulsive scorekeeper; a travelling ballpark tourist and a taste tester of defiantly unhealthy ballpark culinary offerings. In this space I share my love for the game of baseball and in doing so, connect with other really great people who love the game as much as I do.

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