Bats and batting Helmets – what should I get for my child?
Each junior league team is supplied with a kit that includes at least two good quality bats and six helmets. So, you don’t really need to buy any bat or helmet for your child, especially if they are new to baseball or even played for a couple of years. Give it a little while and maybe when they are in the second year of LL Minor or above and keen on baseball they may want to have a bat and/or helmet of their own. It does make a nice and easy birthday or Christmas gift.
For bats, another reason to wait is that getting the correct bat can be a bit confusing as there are certain league regulations that need to be adhered to. So, it is best to talk to the coach and ensure you get a compliant bat. MWDBA has a guide at https://manlybaseball.com.au/junior-league/resources/ (see Competition Rules Guide) and the current bat recommendation/requirement for U7 to LL Major is ‘USA Bat’, for Intermediate/Junior is ‘USA Bat’ or ‘BBCOR’ and Senior League is ‘BBCOR’ (this has recently changed so it is important to check every year).
‘USA Bat’ and ‘BBCOR’ are two different but similar bat regulation standards for ‘composite’ bats, e.g., anything other than one-piece wooden bats. The most common of these are metal alloy bats but there are other composite bats like alloy + carbon fiber, wood + carbon fiber, etc. A composite bat is easier to hit the ball with compared to a wooden bat and will, in general, last much longer than wood.
Since a USA Bat or BBCOR is recommended/required it then comes down to which brand and size to get. Asking your coach or the staff at the baseball store is a particularly good start. So is just trying out the suppled bats in the kit and other player’s bats to see how it feels and hits. One thing to keep in mind is that since the ‘USA Bat’ and ‘BBCOR’ bats are regulated to meet certain technical standards there is often not a noticeable of performance difference between bats that are the same size (length) and weight. The cost difference comes down to how close to the top limits of a specification (e.g., refinement) a bat maker can get, even weight distribution and any additional features of the handle (e.g., shock absorption, grip types, diameter, knob flare). And, like a lot of other things, marketing. Things like flashy paint job, decals, and a groovy name (or is it ‘sick’ nowadays?) can separate a bat from others. It is usually a good bet that last year’s model will go for a decent discount to the current year’s one that has a new paint job.
Choosing a Batting helmet is a bit easier than bats. Again, the club supplies helmets but if you want to buy one it is necessary to visit the baseball store and try them on to get the right fit. They should have a NOCSAE safely approval but ask the shop if you are not sure. With helmets you generally get more for what you pay for which is usually the quality of the padding and ventilation which goes towards getting a comfy fit. You may also wish to consider getting a jaw guard. This is an optional extension that protects the side of the jaw that faces the pitcher.