Do baseball bats need to be broken in? Generally, the answer to that question depends on the bat. While most wood and aluminum bats are ready to go as soon as they’re out of the shop, composite bats may need a bit of breaking in before they’ll allow you to hit optimally. This is because these bats aren’t tested or used after they are manufactured; they generally sit in the sports shops until they are purchased. However, as the bat is used and its materials adapt both to the user’s swing and to contact with the ball, it will improve greatly in quality. While most people will be a bit concerned about affecting the lifespan of the bat by breaking it in, you will find that the more hits you perform with it, the quicker it will reach optimal power levels.
So how do you go about breaking in a new composite bat? The process isn’t really complicated; there are only three steps you need to take. The entire breaking-in process shouldn’t take more than an hour or two, depending on your stamina. A good tip to remember while breaking in a new bat is to use the markings on the bat (the manufacturer logos, paint, and any other identifying characteristics) to ‘divide’ the bat into quarters. While you are hitting balls, you will want to rotate the bat in your hands roughly a quarter turn in order to break all sides in equally.
1. Hit the ball off of a tee. Basically, you will want to hit about 100 regulation baseballs off a standard tee, remembering to rotate your bat the quarter turn between swings. Don’t start off at full power right away; take slow swings at first, then build up your power level as you hit more balls.
2. Soft toss. Have a teammate toss a regulation baseball at you using a soft toss or front toss. Repeat this at least 50 times, always remembering to turn the bat the quarter turn between tosses.
3. Live pitching. To finish breaking in your bat, face a live pitcher who can throw at least 40MPH and have them pitch regulation baseballs to you. Repeat this at least 50 times, rotating the bat a quarter turn between swings.
While you are breaking in your new awesome baseball bat, here are some tips to remember:
- To avoid damaging or breaking the bat, never attempt to swing it or hit a ball unless the bat is at least 70 degrees.
- Only hit regulation baseballs or softballs. Any other ball –such as the ones used in pitching machines- might damage the bat.
- If you hit either a weak foul or mis-hit a ball on an ‘off’ part of the bat, don’t count that as a swing and don’t perform the quarter turn rotation.
Finally, you might have heard of ‘rolling’ a bat, and wondered what that means. When a composite bat is ‘rolled’ it is placed in a rolling machine that compresses it. These compressed bats create a ‘trampoline’ effect when they make contact with the ball, allowing it to go farther when hit. Not only is this illegal in high school and collegiate baseball leagues, it also voids the manufacturer’s warranty and can be unsafe for players on the opposite team. In the end, doctoring your bat to make it hit better really isn’t worth the trouble. Simply break it in following the steps above, and your bat will be hitting great in no time.
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