A Buying Guide for Slow Pitch Bats
When it comes to slow pitch softball, or any form of baseball for that matter, everybody wants to crush monster home runs. Strength and technique are the two most important factors in hitting for power. Since most softball players are not professional athletes, the purchase of a quality slow pitch softball bat can be the difference between a deep fly ball and a towering home run. For those who aren't aiming for the fences, a good bat can reduce handle vibrations with a bigger sweet spot, and also add some pop to help you scorch some line drives through the holes.
The market has been rapidly expanding and changing, with the shift away from standard aluminum bats to a two piece composite-aluminum design. Some of the most popular brands include Easton, Demarini, Miken, Combat, Worth, Louisville Slugger and more. While most of these brands focus very specifically on high end baseball or sports equipment, some more broad sporting good and apparel powerhouses like Nike and Reebok are also producing bats. It is VERY important to ensure the bat you are looking to buy is legal in the league(s) you will be using it in. This may include NSA, ASA, USSSA approval just to name a few, and is normally indicated on the barrel.
Sometimes it is difficult to find a good review site for consumer products. Watch out for sites that don't have any user comments, but at the same time take these user comments in moderation. Often somebody who has a bad experience can fly off the handle and write a scathing review for a product that may not be as bad as they make it out to be. The opposite is also true, in that some reviewers get a new bat and are so excited about their new purchase that they are not able to be impartial and critical in their review. My best experiences are to look at the more moderate ratings and read the comments. A good site will have an easy to understand rating system and usually lists the price of the bat as well. Try a site like softballbats.com for a very large review collection.
Selecting Weight and Length
Weight and length are very much a matter of feel for each person. Generally a heavy bat (30 oz.) will benefit a large, strong batter whereas a light bat (26 oz.) will better suit a smaller, less strong individual. More average players will likely find a bat somewhere in between comfortable.
All common adult slow pitch bats are 33-34 inches in length.
Where to Purchase
When it comes to most expensive goods its always a good idea to check them out in person. Maybe there is a store where you can pick up the bats and feel the weight and balance, and if there is safe room to do so, swing it around a bit to see what it will feel like at the plate. When you've made up your mind on which bat you want to purchase, shop around and be patient if you want to get a good deal! Since softball is a seasonal sport, most stores will have inventory clearance sales at particular times of the year. If you don't mind purchasing online, eBay auctions are a perfect way to get an unbeatable deal. For example, I purchased a Demarini F4 on eBay for $80 off the common sticker price of $230. As usual, when purchasing on eBay, be sure to check the seller's ratings and reviews.
Enjoy your new softball bat!