Effective January 1st, 2018, USA Baseball, the national governing body for the sport of baseball in the United States, will adopt a new method for measuring bat performance in the testing of youth baseball bats.
Although there will be no immediate change to youth baseball organizations' bat rules, we understand and appreciate that many of our customers look to JustBats.com for just this type of information. We want all of our customers to be as informed as possible about anything that may affect their bat purchase decisions, so we'll break down every part of the new rule change including what changes to expect, why a change is being made, and who this new standard will affect.
What Will the USABat Standard Change and Why?
Similar to the NCAA and NFHS BBCOR standard that was implemented in 2011, the new "USABat Standard" will create wood-like performance in youth baseball bats, or as USA Baseball's Executive Director / CEO Paul Seiler stated, help "take another step forward in making our game more uniform at the youth level and ensuring the long-term integrity of the game".
Like the NCAA bat performance tests, the USABat standard is based on the coefficient of restitution from a bat-ball impact. But in order to address the varying levels of play between youth and high school / collegiate players, the USABat test will use different test balls and test speeds to scale the results.
Anyone familiar with the BBCOR regulation will know that those bats are limited to a maximum value of .50 in the NFHS / NCAA test. Currently, the maximum value that these new youth bats will be allowed to achieve, or how that value would exactly compare to the trampoline effect achievable with a BBCOR / current youth baseball bat / wood bat, is not known.
But unlike the -3 length to weight ratio restriction that is required for BBCOR bats, USABat will not have a drop weight limit. Instead of simply requiring the use of wood bats, which are often found with a -8 length to weight ratio at the lightest, younger players will still be able to use bats made from light-weight, highly engineered materials.
With the creation of the new standard, players within the affected organizations will also now be allowed to use bats with either a 2 1/4 inch or 2 5/8 inch barrel diameter (as long as they carry the new USABat stamp).
We know that's a lot of information to digest, so here are your Key Takeaways regarding these new youth baseball bat rules:
- In order to maintain the integrity of youth baseball, the USABat standard will create wood-like performance in youth bats while allowing younger players to use light-weight bats that could not be achieved with wood bats.
- AABC, Babe Ruth / Cal Ripken, Dixie, Little League, and PONY will all be affected by the USABat rule change, but USSSA will not.
- The logos on the bats will look like this:
*Currently, USSSA Baseball will allow the use of a bat that carries the new USABat stamp (as long as barrel diameter, drop weight, material specifications, etc. match the specific division's requirements).
National Organizations That Will Be Affected
- American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC)
- Babe Ruth Baseball / Cal Ripken Baseball
- Dixie Youth Baseball
- Little League Baseball
- PONY Baseball
- Dizzy Dean
*USSSA Baseball will not be affected by the USABat standard and Youth Big Barrel bats with 2 5/8 inch and 2 3/4 inch barrel diameters will still be produced with the USSSA BPF 1.15 certification.
*For Dizzy Dean, 13 and up will need to use BBCOR bats. 13 and under will need to use a USABat bat or a BBCOR bat.
What about tee ball bats?
Unlike standard youth baseball bats, tee ball bats (lengths 26" and shorter) are not required to undergo lab testing to receive approval under the USABat Program.
However, to be approved for play within the participating National Member Organizations, tee ball bats must feature the USA Baseball mark and accompanying text that reads Only For Use With Approved Tee Balls.
- Approved tee ball bats (26" and shorter) under USABat will feature the USA Baseball mark.
- USA Baseball will make a sticker program available that will allow individuals to purchase stickers to mark personal tee ball bats that were purchased prior to the implementation of the USABat Standard.
- JustBats.com will also have bats with the stickers, which will read Only For Use With Approved Tee Balls, available for tee ball bats that were manufactured before the new rule.
- The organizations that will adopt the USABat rule change will also then allow players to use a bat with either a 2 1/4 inch or 2 5/8 inch barrel diameter (as long as it bears the new USABat stamp).
- Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) has decided not to adopt the rule change.
- All current league-approved bats can be used through December 31, 2017.
- With the implementation date of 2018, bat manufacturers are allowed sufficient time to conduct necessary research, design, testing, and manufacturing of these new bats.
- Bats that are regulated by the new USABat standard will be available to purchase on September 1st, 2017.
- BBCOR bats are permitted for Intermediate (50-70) Division and Junior League Division, but must be labeled with a silkscreen or other permanent certification mark.
Development of new Little League baseball bat rules can always create a lot of anxiety and frustration, but we will continue to update this post as new information is released about the USABat standard to keep you as informed as possible.
And don't forget that our team of expert Customer Coaches are ready to answer any questions you may have about the new USABat standard. Please feel free to contact us by phone (1-866-321-2287), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Live Chat!