Bat Sizing Guide

It can be hard to know what size of bat to buy for a hitter, so here is what I recommend for my hitters. These recommendations are based on average-sized kids and can be adjusted up or down based on a hitter's size and strength.

Non-wood bats are organized according to their length, barrel diameter, and drop, with the drop being the difference between the length and the weight of the bat. For example, a 29 inch, 18 ounce bat would be a -11.

In general, remember that a hitter should swing the heaviest bat they can without hurting their hitting mechanics or their bat speed.

Baseball Bat Recommendations


Length Drop
6U and/or Kindergarten: 25" -12
7U and/or 1st Grade: 25" -12
8U and/or 2nd Grade: 26" -12
9U and/or 3rd Grade: 27" -11
10U and/or 4th Grade: 28" -11
11U and/or 5th Grade: 29" -10
12U and/or 6th Grade: 30" -8.5
13U and/or 7th Grade: 30" -7
14U and/or 8th Grade: 30" -5
15U and/or 9th Grade: 30" -3
16U and/or 10th Grade: 31" -3
11th Grade: 32" -3
12th Grade: 33" -3
College: 33" -3

Softball Bat Recommendations


Length Drop
6U and/or Kindergarten: 25" -12
7U and/or 1st Grade: 25" -12
8U and/or 2nd Grade: 26" -12
9U and/or 3rd Grade: 27" -11
10U and/or 4th Grade: 28" -11
11U and/or 5th Grade: 29" -11
12U and/or 6th Grade: 30" -11
13U and/or 7th Grade: 30" -10
14U and/or 8th Grade: 30" -10
15U and/or 9th Grade: 30" -9
16U and/or 10th Grade: 31" -9
11th Grade: 32" -9
12th Grade: 33" -9
College: 34" -9

When in Doubt, Go Lighter

I believe I may have contributed to my sons' problems with Bat Brag by having them use heavier bats (-7s) before they were strong enough to handle them. Because Bat Drag is such a significant problem, and can be so hard to fix if it really takes root, I would encourage you to be cautious when it comes to choosing the length and drop of your bat. When in doubt, I would go with the lighter of the two options. Yes, you will be giving up some pop. However, you could also keep a case of borderline Bat Drag from turning into a really bad case of Bat Drag. Similarly, if you play in a league with a drop limit like -9, then you should consider buying a bat that is an inch shorter than you were considering.

Big Barrel or Small Barrel?

I used to not be a fan of big barrel bats.

That was because I only saw bigger kids being successful with them. I rarely saw regular-sized kids be successful with them, including my own kids. I also saw big barrel bats seemingly cause problems with Bat Drag in both of my sons.

In retrospect, I have come to realize that the problem wasn't with the size of the barrel, but with the drop of the bat. As I mentioned above, the big barrel bats I bought for my sons tended to be -8s or -7s. The problem I was seeing wasn't due to the size of the barrel, but to the weight/drop of the bat. As a result, I don't have a problem with big barrel bats any more. You just have to make sure that the drop of the bat is appropriate.

Having said that, and as I discuss in my piece on Smaller Barrel Training, there are advantages to using a small barrel bat under some circumstances.

Be Careful With Wood Bats

I know that it's becoming increasingly popular for hitters to swing wood bats, at least during batting practice and some games. The problem is that wood bats tend to have very low drops, usually -3 or -5 and +3 or even +5 on occasion, and swinging that heavy of a bat can wreak havoc on a swing that already has, or that is predisposed to, Bat Drag. I would hold off on buying a wood bat until 7th or 8th grade, and even then I would be wary.

Off-Season Bats

When working with my son in the off-season, when he may be swinging just once or twice a week and may not be as strong as he is during the season, we use a -12 bat. That allows us to work on his arm action and mechanics without making the weight of the bat an issue and running the risk of introducing a problem with Bat Drag.

In a similar vein, this year I am going to experiment with buying my son two bats; one lighter one to use during the late pre-season and the first part of the regular season when he's still getting into baseball shape and another, slightly heavier, one to use in the later part of the regular season and the post-season when he's in full baseball shape.