Nearly all of today’s aluminum and composite softball bats have a limited number of hits in them. To maximize its lifespan, it is important to take proper care of your bat. You will get the most out of your softball bat investment by following basic break-in and care guidelines, along with following your bat manufacturer’s guidelines.
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Hitting the Right Balls
Hitting proper balls is essential for maintaining long-term bat performance. Be sure to hit dry, leather balls that are rated at 500 lbs. compression or less. Wet softballs can weigh significantly more than a dry ball and can damage your bat when struck. Higher-compression balls have a higher density than standard balls and, as such, are more likely to dent your bat. You should also avoid hitting rubber “batting cage” balls for same reason; they too have higher density than standard softballs.
Many of today’s bats require a break-in period of 200 to 500 hits to reach their full performance potential. The best method for breaking in your bat is to hit standard softballs in batting practice or off of a tee. Try to rotate the bat 1/4 turn for each hit to break in the entire batting surface. You should avoid accelerated break-in techniques like vising, rolling and striking foreign objects. These techniques are not only against most sanctioning body rules, they will also void your warranty and could either damage or significantly decrease your bat’s lifespan.
Avoid the trunk of your car or other areas of extreme heat when storing your bat. The plastic end-cap of most bats will expand at a different rate than the metal/composite material of the rest of the bat. This expansion and contraction process can result in end-cap failure of the bat.
Cold Weather Use
Extremes of cold can also be hazardous to your softball bat. Many bats, especially composite bats, are not rated for use in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15 degrees Celsius. At lower temperatures, softballs increase in density from exposure to cold weather. This added impact force can increase the likelihood that you will dent or crack your bat. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommended temperature guidelines before using your bat in cold weather games.
Keep It to Yourself
Even with proper care, today’s bats have a finite amount of hits that can be taken before their performance begins to decline. You will diminish how long you are able to use your bat by allowing others to use it. If you are seeking to maximize your bat’s lifespan, be sure that other players do not use it excessively.