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Each type of softball bat has different needs. It is the responsibility of the player to take care of their equipment. The success of their game may depend on it. Let’s take composite bats as an example. These bats need to have a break-in, which is not necessary for wood or aluminum bats. This is because unlike the latter bats, composite bats take time for them to perform to their optimum. Slow pitch bats take about 100-150 hits to reach their peak. Fast pitch bats need up to 200 hits. These hits will compress all the fibers of the bat; thus, strengthening it.
There are several ways to break in a softball bat; some are faster than the others. However, American Softball Association approved one method where the player needs to swing and hit using the bat from half speed and slowly gaining to full speed. How many times the hits are repeated depends whether the bat is slow pitch or fast pitch.
When doing a break-in, it is important that you only use the ball approved by the ASA. This is best to avoid any damage to your newly bought bat. It can even affect the effective of your bereak-in.
For every hit, be sure to rotate the bat by ¼ inches. This ensures that the whole barrel of the bat is broken properly. Failure to do so may compromise the performance of one side of the bat.
Remember that you must undergo the transition from 50% of your usual swing and slowly into full speed. If not done properly, the bat may get cracks or even break.
After doing the following steps, you’re ready to play the game. However, if you feel that the bat needs more than 200 hits, you are free to continue on the breaking in until fully satisfied.
If the bat is newly bought, then you don’t have a choice. You must really undergo the process. Even if you bought the most expensive and the best softball bats, if they’re made from composite materials, the routine must be done. Many players think that breaking in a bat takes too much time. However, it will only take up less than an hour. Once done, you’ll be happy to experience a good game with a bat functioning in its fullest potential.
A research by one of the students in Washington State University shows that breaking in a bat improves its performance up to 3.5 mph in the speed of a batted ball. However, this was only achieved after 500-1000 hits. 3.5 mph can make a lot of difference during the real game. You can never call your bats the best softball bats if they don’t reach this full potential.
It is illegal to modify the properties of a bat. The American Softball Association has even decreed a maximum speed a bat can hit a ball to avoid cheating. Although breaking in does modify and improve the performance of the bat, it is not structural modification. The bat is not shaved, rolled, or enloaded. It merely speeds up the process of improving its performance, which can happen naturally but longer.
Breaking in a composite bat may be taxing and it may eat up some of your time; however, this is one of the things that need to be done. Without a break-in, you risk losing the game. Best softball bats takes time to mold and that is what makes them special. In the end, all the effort you put into the process will be repaid during the real game.