Transitioning from metal to wood bat? Tips for picking out that 1st wood bat

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Is it time to start swinging wood?  Here are some expert tips for picking out that 1st wood bat

Ask a coach when players should begin swinging a wood bat, and they’ll tell you “as soon as possible.”

But if you’ve ever tried to order a wood bat, you might notice there’s a lot of choices to make.  Maybe you’ve asked yourself…

  • The metal bat has a big barrel, so does that mean I should get the big barrel wood bat?
  • Which weight is appropriate?  -11, -10, -9 and so on
  • Birch, Ash or Maple?
  • B13c, B110, K455, … Which model to choose?

So for tips about making the transition to begin hitting with wood, we turned to the experts.  Olivier Lepine is the head bat maker for B45 Bat Co., the provider for a large number of Major League baseball players, as well as youth bats.

what 1st wood bat should I get for my kid

Carlos Gonzalez using his B45 bat at the 2016 Home Run Derby

Barrel size – Should youth bats be top heavy?

To facilitate the transition from an aluminum bat to a wood bat, models with a smaller barrel (like the 271, 141 and 110) are very appropriate.  These are good balanced models, with the weight well distributed throughout the bat.

The metal bats have big but empty barrels so they choose a wood bat with the same barrel, they will definitely find this bat too top heavy and this will cause to be a hard transition. This will also result in a slow swing speed. 

The barrel will drop because of the weight distribution and it will make an uppercut-type swing. And that’s not good!

Proper Bat Size (length and weight) 

Regarding the length and the weight, it really depends on the kid. There is no magical recipe here.

The best parallel here would be that five different 25-year-old players can swing bats with five different lengths and weights. If you look on Internet, you can find some charts with suggested specs for kids depending on their age and size, but we don’t believe in that.

We like to tell parents to go with the longest bat and the heaviest bat their kid can swing with proper form. The goal here is to develop a good bat speed with a wood bat, but not by using a bat that is too light. If you choose a bat that is not too long (26 to 29 inches), they can take up to a -10 ratio.

But always keep in mind that the more the kid will be used to wood, the heavier you will go in his bat choice. Your child will get stronger and more used to a wood bat, so it’s important to keep increasing the weight (close to -3). Heavier bats (so denser bats) will be more efficient and more resistant.

By getting used to swinging wood bats, your kids will develop their own preferences and that will lead them to their favorite model and specs. But before they get there, they have to try the right stuff that will help them to have a smooth transition from aluminum to wood.

About the Expert

Olivier Lepine, production manager for B45 Bats. B45 makes premium quality wood bats for a long list of Major Leaguers, such as Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Laroche and many others. Olivier, a former pro player himself, has been B45’s head of production since the beginning of the company in 2004 as he was the first bat maker to turn yellow birch.

Hope this helps! If you had a question about this topic that didn’t get answered, please hit reply and let me know.

Cheers!

Doug

PS. After trying many different bat companies, I’ve been using B45 birch bats in my pro games for a couple years now.  I think B45 would be a great youth bat because of their consistent quality.  Of course, any wood bat can break if hit just the wrong way. But a high quality birch bat is going to be a lot more forgiving than flakey ash or extra-stiff maple. Click here to check out their youth models

About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 13 years. Most recently, Doug signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, where he logged time at every infield position except 1st base in 33 Major League games. Currently Doug is with the Twins' AAA team in Rochester, NY

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