Hey Blue: What Size Bat Should I Get For My Child?

By Bob Downey, Hanover LL UIC 2014

One of the common questions parents have is “What size bat should I get for my player?”  The answer will depend on his age, weight and height. We have included a chart for guidance from the Don Mattingly website. In general, the bat should reach the players hip or lower and the player should be able to hold the bat out in front of him, parallel to the ground for 5 to 10 seconds.

So what’s the negative number printed on the bat mean?

If you look at most non-wood bats, you will find a large negative number printed on the fat part of the barrel, near the end of the bat. Common numbers are -3, -10, -11, and -12. So what does that number mean?

Referred to as “The Drop,” it is the difference in the number value of the weight (in oz) of the bat minus the numeric value of the length (in inches).

Example: Bat weight is 16 ounces, length 28 inches; 16 – 28 = -12

As players get older, the drop (weight minus length) should start to get smaller. High school players must use a bat drop of -3 (age 14-15), so it makes sense to have a player age 11 or 12 use a bat drop of -10 to -11. Younger players can use bigger drops. The chart below shows recommended targets:

Age      Length             Weight             Drop (weight minus length)
5-6        24″ to 26″          14-16 oz            -12 or -13
6-7        26″ to 27″          14-17 oz            -12 or -14
7-8        27″ to 29″          14-17 oz            -12 or -13
9-11      28″ to 30″          15-19 oz            -10 or -12
10-12    29″ to 31″          17-30 oz            -10 or -12

Be sure to check out the article on Bat Specifications.