Everybody wants to hit those powerful home runs. But being a hitter is not a day’s work. Before you can deliver powerful blows that hurl the ball to the stands, you need to spend hours and days in the batting cage honing your skill.
But skill only gets you so far. Knowledge of the bat also plays a huge role in you becoming a good batter. And frankly, if I started talking about everything there is to know about softball bats in this article, you would be here the entire day.
Instead, I will talk about a single thing here – bat weight and whether a heavier bat helps you hit the ball farther.
Does a Heavier Softball Bat Hit Farther?
Softball bats, as you might know, come in different sizes and weights. And as it turns out, the size and weight of the bat affect the player’s overall comfort and effectiveness with that particular bat.
It’s not exactly rocket science when you think about it. Swinging a bigger, heavier bat takes more strength and effort. And a player with a small build might have a hard time with it. However, most youngsters I work with want to go with a heavier bat because they believe it will help them hit the ball farther.
And they are right. A heavier bat does have more pop – ergo it hits further.
In fact, this is a common belief, and many young players out there opt to pick up a heavier bat despite being unable to use it effectively. Sure, over time, as they build up more strength, it gets easier, but their early stages take a massive hit. Is it really worth it, though? More importantly, does a heavy softball bat really help you get a more powerful hit?
The Science Behind Bat Weight and Ball Distance
I hate to get technical when it comes to softball, but the truth is a lot of the things that people ask about it come down to simple physics. And if you want to know whether a heavy softball bat hits farther than a lightweight bat, you need to understand the science behind it.
Don’t worry; I will try to keep things as easy as possible so that I do not lose you halfway through my explanation. Research shows that when the mass of the ball, pitch speed, and the speed of swing are kept constant, then the mass of the bat plays a significant role in the velocity of the batted ball. What that means, at first glance, is that if you use a heavier softball bat, you should be able to hit the ball farther.
However, there are a few “but”s here when you look at it a bit closer. While the mass of the ball is pretty constant in a softball game, the pitch speed and bat swing speed are rarely constant. You also need to account for that if you want to use a heavier bat to hit the ball farther.
Let me give you an example. Say there are two bats, a 26 oz and a 30 oz bat. The only difference between the two bats is their weight. The rest of the features are the same. You are facing a pitcher who will pitch the ball at a consistent speed every time. Furthermore, you will also be swinging the bat at a constant speed.
In this situation, you will notice that the bat with the greater weight will let you hit the ball farther than the lighter softball bat. The reason is that at the moment of collision, the heavier bat will be able to redirect more of the momentum outwards.
Now, take another example where you are swinging the lighter bat faster than the heavier bat, just as a normal person would in a real-time scenario. Think about it; you would have to exert a greater amount of strength to swing a heavy bat compared to a lighter bat. Naturally, your swing speed will take a small hit.
In the second example, you will notice that the lighter bat will hit the ball farther or at least at the same level as the heavier bat. The reason is that, with a faster swing of the bat, you will be able to make up for the mass deficit of the lighter bat.
So, what’s the takeaway from this?
The real takeaway here is that while it is true that a heavier softball bat will hit the ball farther than a lighter bat, the weight of the bat is not the only thing that determines the batted ball distance. Other factors such as pitch speed, contact point, and swing speed also play a significant role in how far you can drive the ball.
If you ask me, I would never advise picking up a heavy softball bat unless you can swing fast and make good connections with it. The best softball bat for a batter is the one that feels perfectly balanced in his hands.
A good hitter swinging a comfortable bat consistently is miles better than a batter who is using a heavy bat despite having a hard time swinging it. So don’t feel pressured into picking up an uncomfortable heavy bat if you cannot use it properly.
Is a Heavier Bat Better for Softball?
If it was not clear before, now it should be pretty apparent that a heavier softball bat does, in fact, hit farther. But does that mean it is better to use a heavy softball bat? Well, not necessarily.
You see, while you might be able to drive the ball farther in the stands if you are using a heavy softball bat, wielding it is not exactly a walk in the park. Using a heavy softball bat requires a lot of practice. With a lightweight bat, you will be able to swing with relative ease. But if the bat is heavy, you are in for a tough time.
Contact hitters mostly prefer using a lightweight softball bat. Their main objective is not to hit powerful home runs but rather to get a good touch on the ball and run to the next base. Typically, they just try to avoid strikeouts and get a good hit on the ball whenever they get the chance.
Needless to say, achieving that with a meaty softball bat would be difficult. With the extra weight of the bat, you will have a hard time getting quick, reflexive swings in. So, if you are a contact hitter, going with a heavy softball bat might not be the best decision.
On the other hand, if you are a power hitter, then a heavy softball bat is definitely the ideal choice. Power hitters tend to focus on their physique just as much as they work on their swing techniques. While avoiding strikeouts is also one of their main goals, they prefer getting good, powerful hits on the ball instead of contact shots.
Yes, using a heavy softball bat is difficult, but if you have the muscles for it, which most power hitters do, then wielding it should not be too challenging. You should be able to control and swing a heavy softball bat if you are going the route of a power hitter and follow their training regime.
As you can see, the answer is not as simple as you might think. Yes, a heavy softball bat delivers more power on demand, but a lighter softball bat will help you get a more consistent hit per swing.
The Bottom Line
Becoming a successful batter is hard work. You need to train day in and day out to achieve a good level of swing consistency. And to be honest, consistency is the best thing that you can achieve as a softball batter.
With a heavy bat, you will be able to deliver powerful swings, sure, but only if you have the physique for it. If you are having a hard time swinging a heavy softball bat, it is not for you. There’s no point in staying stuck with it. Get a lighter bat that feels right for you and move on.
Hopefully, I could clarify how a heavy bat affects your batted ball speed. But more importantly, I want you to understand that it is not the end of the world if you are not comfortable with a heavy softball bat. Cheers!