End loaded vs. Balanced Bats
Written by: League Administrator
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
I used to hate swinging end loaded bats myself, I mean hey they feel heavier, so why do that to yourself and lose bat speed I thought. Wrong. Here are the facts though and much of this has to do with bat speed. We will talk about initial bat speed and after contact bat speed. Initial bat speed is greater using a balanced bat there is no doubt about this. I define initial bat speed as everything before ball contact. However, this is not the speed, which is important for distance hitting.
After contact bat speed, can actually increase using an end-loaded bat, or at least stay the same or not decrease as much as balanced does.
Now having said all of this and you decide to go end loaded what weight do you choose? You may want to go an ounce or two lighter than you normally use to get the same feel as a balanced bat. If you use a 26oz. bat then you cannot go lighter I realize this, but try and get used to the endload feel and you will love it after a time. Now the problem may come for you to find a true end loaded bat. Even bats that come from the manufacturers may not really come in what we call "max-end loaded", which is a load that takes up less space at the end of the bat, than a stock load. For example, a stock load and even some factory end loads, may take up an inch or two of bat space, while a denser, more compact max-load can take half that, which will result in a bigger sweet spot to hit with. This alone can make a huge difference in bat performance of 10-20 extra feet in distance. So where do you get one of these?
As time goes by it is becoming more and more difficult to find these bats, as the manufacturers try and keep away from their bats being banned by the governing sanctions, such as ASA, USSSA, NSA etc. For example, the original "Miken Ultra maxload" was not on the market long before it was banned, so Miken came out with the "Ultra 2" which was a balanced version of the original. Supposedly, it was not as hot, but as just about everyone knows it was very hot, so it is also banned just about everywhere now just like the original. Nevertheless, it is indisputable that the original did in fact hit farther because of the end load.
I have only hit two bats 400 ft. The original Ultra and the juiced Techzilla. I will not be discussing juiced bats in this article
Ray Demarini used to tell people the perfect bat weight for a softball player was 28oz. I tend to agree with this. Even though I am 6'1" 215 lbs., I like to use a light bat. Depending on which model I am swinging I will use anywhere between a 26 and 28. However, bat weights are personal preference, so do not listen to anyone but you. I have found when I am hitting say 100 or so hits off the tee, I use more energy when using a 28oz. bat than a 26oz., so I go lighter to go longer and hit more.
It is amazing what a difference just one or two ounces will make over the long haul. Some people swear a heavier bat will allow one to hit the ball farther because of the greater mass. I do not think it is necessarily the mass, but after contact bat speed, which comes into play when going heavier. So yes heavier may result in more distance, but its only because, that heavier bat is harder to slow down after contact. Of course, a bigger barrel and sweet spot, which may come on certain bats, never hurts. Ok, now what about all this bat hype and this one hits farther than that one etc.
I have to tell you after the dozens and dozens of new bats I tested recently; it was a bit surprising and disappointing at the same time for me to find they all came in around the same distance. Oh sure there are a couple which stood out, but for the most part they all made a good showing for themselves.
I am not going to list all the bats here, because reviews are ever changing and new models are coming out all the time, but again you can check our website for updated reviews and testing we have done. The bottom line on reviews is they are subjective and everyone likes what they like. Some people are die-hard Demarini, Worth, Easton, etc., people who will not use anything else and who am I or anyone to tell them it is not a good bat?
I have found the most important thing about bats is because the distances are so close on the top five or ten, feel, sweet spot, price and durability should be the determining factor for their bat choice. I have hit all the top bats over the 320 foot fence I practice on, so which do I use? The one which feels the best in my hands, lasts the longest, and has the best value.