Bats, sizings and advice
Buying a baseball bat that is suited to a young player can be one of the most enjoyable experiences but also very frustrating if not done right. Factors like bat length,bat weights and drops (denoted by -0) are just some of the issues one needs to be aware of aswell as the material/s used in the bat. For the official junior bat regulations please here. Below is what we would suggest being aware of and using as a basis for a correct choice in selecting the right bat.
1) Wood - Maple, Ash, Birch
Wood is the traditional material used in baseball bats. In the Major leagues globally wood is the only material that is legal to use and must be a single piece of timber formed into a style suitable for a player. It must not be hollowed in any significant way beyond a small 1inch cup at the head to balance weight. Ash is lightest but very traditional, Maple harder and smoother but heavier and Birch a similar grain to Ash but very durable and light.
PROS: Great organic feel, limited sting on the hands CONS: Prone to breaking and ageing quickly, takes time to break in.
2) Wood Composite and Bamboo
Wood composite bats are made from various glued and bonded wood types (bamboo included) that are very similar to single wood bats but significantly stronger and more durable. Some have graphite rods down the barrel.
PROS: Very similar feel to traditional wood, strong and dynamic CONS: Some can be quite heavy.
3) Graphite Composite
A few manufacturers make graphite composite bats. These are VERY strong and LIGHT and very comfortable to hit with. Great pop off of the bat with limited sting on ateh batters hands, so one usually gets good results.
PROS: Strong, durable and light CONS: Expensive and hard to get.
4) Metal Bats - Aluminium, Cobalt and Composite Alloys
By far the most popoluar material today for little league is metal when it come to bats. They are usually quite inexpensive and are very easy to get good results from. Most of the big brands have a series of bats that exploite technologies to deliver robust build and performance.
PROS: Inexpensive, strong, many options CONS: Bat sting in common, breakage.
Fielding Gloves and Mitts
Because baseball is both a defensive and offensive game when you take the field you'll need a glove. If you take to the field as a catcher the glove is called a mitt because of its bulky protective format. There are many types of gloves on the market today and we will not discuss each build type although we will explain what glove is ideal for what position. In many cases any glove will do but it does help as you progress to have a glove suited to the speed, width and pace with which you retrieve the ball i.e. size and glove shape help.
As a general rule we would always sanction a true leather glove over synthetic as they last longer and do help reduce injury to the players hand. Our feeling is to pay a little more will save in the long run. Remember to buy the glove for the opposite hand with which the player throws the ball! RHT means the glove goes on the left hand when worn!
1) Infield Gloves:
Everybody who plays in the inner diamond (except catcher) should have an infield style glove. These are generally smaller to allow for fast ball movement i.e. quickly caught, gathered and thrown. Some first base players use a dedicated larger glove to trap the ball although not mandatory. See the size chart to the right for info.
2) Catchers Mitt:
All catchers mitts are made of leather to help protect the catchers hand. Sizes vary but generally a child should use a 30inch glove as it cradles the ball well when caught. A good catchers glove must not only catch and stop the ball but keep it in the glove when closed!!
3) Outfield Gloves:
Outfielders are in need of volume in their gloves as they need to collect the ball from high ranges. This means the gloves are bigger and should be tight on the hand to allow the arm to balance the weight. If you can find one with a window in the pocket it helps the player look through the glove to make sure of the catch!
A final note on gloves...
New gloves take time to wear in, some are part worn in through manufacturing processes but non are specifically made for you so you need time to get them to fit to your hand. The best way to break a glove in is to use it and bend it using your hands. Use a little dubbin (available from Bunnings or shoe repairers) to waterproof the leather and stitching and it will soften the leather at the same time.
NEVER, put it in the oven to soften, use excessive oil softeners or pulverize with a mallet. If you have to hard soften it use only a wooden bat as a gentle press to soften the areas into a desirable mould. Finally a really good practise is to keep a ball or two in the glove and wrap the glove using a belt or old tie and leave to gently form to the shape of the ball/s.