USA Baseball in conjunction with select National Member Organizations (NMOs) announced the decision to adopt a ball-bat coefficient of restitution method as the means for measuring bat performance in the testing of youth bats. Informed by the research of leading scientists on the USA Baseball Bat Study Committee and supported by its NMOs, including AABC, Babe Ruth, Dixie, Little League, and PONY, USA Baseball has concluded that recent advancements in science, engineering, technology, and the materials available to fabricate non-wood bats, now allow the manufacturers to construct youth bats that can perform at a wood-like level through the entire range of lengths and weights of youth bats.
The new USA Baseball bat standard (USABat), which will apply to all bats that are classified below the NCAA and NFHS level, will be implemented on January 1, 2018, allowing the bat manufacturers sufficient time to bring these bats to the marketplace.
Similar to the NCAA and NFHS BBCOR standard which helped to eliminate discrepancies with different length bats and thus provide a more direct measure of bat performance, the new USABat standard will allow youth baseball organizations in the United States to reach their goal of establishing a wood-like standard, a standard that will provide for the long-term integrity of the game.
It is important to note that there will be no immediate change to youth baseball organizations’ bat rules. All bats, currently accepted for the respective leagues, remain permissible through December 31, 2017. Each National Member Organization will incorporate the new standard into their rules for the 2018 season and will begin to inform their membership of the new standard.
Which National Member Organizations are implementing this new standard?
In alphabetical order: American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), American Legion Baseball, Babe Ruth Baseball, Dixie Baseball, Little League Baseball, National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF), PAL, PONY Baseball, and T-Ball USA.
Why the change to a wood-like standard?
USA Baseball’s National Member Organizations believe that a wood-like standard will best provide for the long term integrity of the game.
Why not just use wood bats?
There is not enough wood to meet the demand. (The new bats will be designed to perform much like wood and their performance will be limited to the highest performing wood.)
How is the USA Baseball bat standard different from the BBCOR standard used by the NCAA and NFHS?
Both the USA Baseball and NCAA bat performance tests are based on the coefficient of restitution from a bat-ball impact. The scale of results is different, however, since they use different test balls and test speeds. The difference is necessary to represent play in the respective age groups.
Why is USA Baseball involved?
The National Member Organizations asked USA Baseball to take the lead in this process to establish a new standard. Many other National Governing Bodies set and enforce standards for the equipment in their respective sports. To that end, USA Baseball established a Bat Study Committee of leading scientists and conducted both field testing and lab testing. The committee shared their findings with the National Member Organizations, who then endorsed the new standard.
Why wait until 2018?
The implementation date of 2018 will allow the bat makers sufficient time to conduct the appropriate research, design, testing, manufacturing, and shipping needed to get new bats into retail outlets.
Is my current bat good for league play?
Yes. Current bats can be used through December 31, 2017.
Is safety the reason for the change?
No. Youth baseball continues to be one of the safest of all sports for youth participants.
How will I know which bat to buy?
All new bats that bear the USA Baseball bat licensing mark will be permissible for play in the leagues and tournaments of the National Member Organizations.
When can I buy the new bat?
It is the intention of the bat manufacturers to make the new bats available in the fall of 2017, in sufficient time for the 2018 season.
What other bat changes are taking place?
Both Little League Baseball and Babe Ruth Baseball have approved the use of the 2 5/8 inch barrel bats for league and tournament play beginning in January 2018 and coinciding with the new USABat standard. More information about those changes can be found at the websites of these respective organizations.