How to Use Wood Bats as Part of Your Youth Training Program
January 17 2017 / By:
While the traditional method of teaching baseball involves the use of metal bats, the fact is that wood bats are the holy grail of baseball, and the use of a wood bat is where every serious ball player wants to end up.
Metal bats are used for a variety of reasons. They are lighter and more durable. They are more easily available. They are however much more expensive and lose their pop over months of use. There are more metal bat leagues than wood bat leagues. But metal bats are also more dangerous and can cause serious injury. Much controversy has developed around the use of metal bats with youth, but the expense and weight of wood bats, not to mention the transitioning and training has always been a challenge in youth baseball.
So if your child has started out using metal bats and is showing some serious interest in the sport of baseball, when should you start the transition to wood bats? The fact is that you can't start soon enough. The younger and earlier a player gets used to swinging a wood bat, the better off your little player will be. A child that plays with metal bats too long will develop bad habits that will become increasingly ingrained the longer the players uses metal bats. These habits become harder to un-teach as time goes by.
First, the youth player swinging with a wood bat will get stronger … fast. The process of swinging a wood bat will help develop the muscles in the hands, wrists, and forearms that simply can't, and won't ever, be developed by swinging a metal bat.
Plus, they will get a better sense of the overall mechanics of the game. Metal bats are light, so young leaguers can swing them easily. But to get a baseball flying out into the field with a wood bat, a youth player needs to strengthen their legs and hips in order to swing properly. A player who is swinging with a wood bat will be forced to learn to use the whole body, as opposed to just swinging with the arms. With a metal bat, a fundamentally unsound batter will be able to fly under the radar and look good at the game, without actually being good- for a time until the deficiencies in technique undo the player. For both individual players and the team as a whole, the wood bat is the best way to effectively ground skills and teach the fundamentals of swinging.
This same process will also help develop the young ballplayer's eye. The sweet spot on a wood bat is smaller than on a metal bat. It takes more skill to hit that sweet spot with a wood bat, but when it happens, there's no vibration to the bat at all and the ball will go soaring. Hitting a ball with the sweet spot of a wood bat is said to be one of the best feelings ever. Just ask any player who has swung solidly with a wood bat. A wood bat will out perform today's BBCor metal bat when the ball is squared up on the sweet spot.
It's commonly thought children who use metal bats can hit the ball better and farther than with wood bats. But the fact is that a wood bat that is swung with the proper mechanics will send the ball just as far, if not farther, because the wood bat barrel has more solid mass. And solid mass is the key to sending the ball flying into the outfield.
Using wood bats develops better players. They teach the player to swing only at the good pitches, not the bad ones. Hitting the sweet spot lets you know when you have made a solid connection with the ball, while metal bats can be much more deceptive. The wood bat is a great teacher for precision, strength, and, if the child has any long-term interest in the sport, continuing to play beyond youth leagues to high school, college and turning pro. Scouts don't really care how far an aspiring player can hit with a metal bat. Wood bats are widely considered the ultimate training tool when it comes to playing baseball.
One of the key decisions involved in choosing a wood bat for youth training is the type of wood, namely maple, birch, and ash. Professional ball players generally prefer maple bats above all other wood types, followed by birch and ash. It's the hardness of maple that makes these bats so popular with the pros, which causes the ball to jump off the bat. Maple is particularly useful in a super light custom version used to transition youth to wood bats. The use of a progressive training maple bat set is an excellent way to move the player along in bat weight. And custom pro bats will allow the mature youth player perform to the best of his capability and talent.
Wood bats are rising in popularity everywhere for the simple fact that kids just plain love using wood bats, because wood bats are what baseball is all about. Because of the benefits of training and playing with wood bats, wood bat leagues are one the rise and giving more opportunity to train and develop excellent ball players.