Last Updated: October 24, 2018
8 Min. Read
Composite bats are different from wood and aluminum bats. They are generally made out of a mix of different materials, normally consisting of some kind of carbon fiber and other composite materials. The argument between the composites vs. alloy bats, has been an on-going discussion.
Aluminum and wood bats do not need ANY break-in period. They are ready-to-play, fresh out of the wrapper. Composite bats on the other hand, have a mandatory break-in process. The break-in process loosens the material of a composite bat and enables it to achieve its maximum potential. In this article, we want to answer common questions we receive such as: How do I break in a composite bat? Why do I need to break in my composite bat? (Below our step-by-step guide is where you will find it)
We’ll get right to the point for those who want to skip the lecture :)
Our 3 Big Step Approach to Breaking In Your Composite Bat
Begin the Break-In Process by Hitting Balls Off A Tee
Our process begins by hitting a ball off of a tee. A general overview is that you will be basically swinging a ball using half of your power, a little more power, and then your full power with each of these 3 methods.
To begin the break-in process, hit 50 balls using ONLY HALF of your power off of the tee. After EACH hit, rotate the bat ¼” of a turn. Most bats come with indicating marks to help you know how much to adjust the bat. This will allow you to evenly distribute the hits and get the entire bat broken in. You want to make sure that no area gets neglected during the process.
Repeat the process for another 50 balls off of the tee, this time using 75% of your power. It’s imperative that you remember to rotate your bat AFTER EVERY HIT.
We do recommend maybe 10-15 hits off the tee with 100% of your power, just so that you can get a better feel and familiarize yourself with your new 2019 youth bat!
Continue with the Soft Toss Method
Up next is soft tossing! Simple as it sounds, soft tossing not only improves hand-eye coordination, it helps your youth hitter get a better feel for contact with his or her new youth bat. The goal of soft toss is to mimic a ball that is coming towards the hitting zone where striking the ball is at its optimal position for hitting. A parent, coach, or teammate will sit beside the batter, and underhand toss the ball into the strike zone.
Soft toss the ball 75 times (we’re accounting for misses here), while again using only 50% of the hitter’s power. Adjust the bat ¼” again, we can’t stress it enough!
Repeat step one, using 75% of the hitter’s power.
Now, using 100% of the slugger’s power, make sure to get at least 10-20 good solid hits on it.
Live Pitching OR Pitching Machine Method
Stay with us, we know it is time consuming! After this final step, you will have completed the process! Choosing live pitching OR using a pitching machine is entirely up to you. We recommend using a pitching machine as accuracy would be more consistent towards your liking.
Going with either option, have the ball pitched at 50% of a normal fastball.
Hit 30 balls using 50% of the batting power, remembering to rotate the bat ¼” every time. (Annoyed yet?)
Repeat steps A and B using both 100% fastball and 100% batting power, hitting the ball for 30 more times, rotating the bat ¼” after every hit.
And there you have it! Your composite bat is game time ready. Although it’s imperative that a youth hitter get comfortable with his or her new composite bat, we recommend that they use their bat only when they need to as it will extend the life of the bat.
TLDR; How You Should Break-In Your Composite Bat?
Breaking in a composite bat is a quite simple yet tedious process. The bat needs to take about 250-300 solid swings using our 3 methods: hitting off a cheap batting tee, soft toss, live pitching AND OR pitching machine! This might take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your determination. We recommend doing it in one go, as it is MUCH easier to do so. We also recommend you have a teammate, coach, or parent with you as well who can help around in some of the practices like the soft toss and live pitching.
An important thing to note is that you SHOULD USE REAL LEATHER BALLS and not the rubber ones normally used in the batting cages as those can damage your bat. This is because these might have pock marks which can hinder the ability of the bat to perform well. Also, note that the weather shouldn’t be too cold as a cold ball (less than 60 degrees F) can damage the bat as well.
Why You Really Have to Break-in Your Composite Bat?
We’ve given you a step-by-step guide on the how, now we answer the why
As we briefly discussed at the beginning of this article, composite bats are made of materials that need to bond together and get used to being hit. Put simply, they are just not at their full potential when you first buy them. These materials need to go through a few hundred swings as it will improve their quality.
But you might wonder:
Why don’t manufacturers build bats that are ready to play?
Why do I need to break it in? (Answer Below)
These are some of the questions answered in our article here!
What is Bat Rolling? Is Bat Rolling Illegal?
You might have often heard the term ‘bat rolling. Bat rolling is often a 2-step process that when finished will leave you with a bat that is similar to a bat that has already been broken-in. The two step is as follows:
Please note: We are here to educate, we do not excuse illegal break-in methods. BAT ROLLING IS ILLEGAL: Umpires, coaches, and officials are trained to detect bat rolling. Practice makes perfect, your skill is a representation of the dedication and hard work you put in.
1. The bat is heated up in a process known as “heat rolling,” this will loosen up the composition of the bat making the bat rolling easier.
2. While still heated, the bat goes through a machine with two rollers on each side, compressing it, rolling it back and forth.
There you have it, a rolled bat that didn’t require any sort of “manual” break-in process. While it is being compressed, the machine stretches all of the composite fibers. With the right amount of compression, it increases the trampoline effect of a bat thus dramatically increasing the pop. This is a rather unique process of breaking in the bat, but we highly advise against it. This is only legal when for home-run derbies.
Disadvantages of Bat Rolling
While we could’ve listed some pros to bat rolling, we want to deter from doing it. Here are the cons to Bat Rolling!
1. BAT ROLLING IS ILLEGAL. DON’T DO IT. YOU WILL MOST LIKELY GET CAUGHT. WE WARNED YOU.
2. Manufacturer’s warranty is almost 99% of the time voided after rolling your bat.
3. Rolling generally results in decreased durability and longevity of the bat. One hard hit could be enough to crack it open.
We hope you enjoyed out long but necessary article on getting your composite bat ready for play! We believe that composite bats will get better over time as more technological advancements come to the market. Although it is a long process, it is imperative that you take the time and truly get it prepared for your son or daughter’s big day!