One of the most common questions we get when someone is purchasing a new bat is "should I go with a big barrel or small barrel?" We usually answer their question with one of our own, "what are you trying to accomplish on the field?" I think most people want their child to be successful, develop good hitting mechanics and have fun. Their are still others that believe the bigger the barrel the farther it will go. That is not necessarily true.
Personally, I have seen very few players ten and under who can correctly swing a big barrel bat. It is not a knock on them but rather just a result of their physical age. In swinginging the bigger barrel they develop long, loopy swings because they just don't have the strength to get the bat head around. When they load up, the knob points in the air and the barrel hangs down their back. By the time the ball crosses the plate, the bat is still behind them resulting in choppers, ground balls or pop-ups. Those pop-ups which are not always caught at that young age will be soon enough. Coaches constantly holler to their players to "get the bat up, swing faster and drive the ball." The whole time he never stands a chance to do so because he can't even keep it off his shoulder. In addition, the 2 3/4" barrel bats which are really popular are not even legal in middle school or high school baseball. 2 5/8" bats are the only size allowed. The longer we swing the bigger barrels, the harder it gets to change.
You CAN hit legitimate home runs when you can generate bat speed. Although the surface space may be smaller with the 2 1/4" barrel, young players actually have a chance to swing the bat correctly because the weight is more evenly distributed throughout the bat as opposed to the big barrels where it all sits in the end of the bat. Not only can they get it around faster but the smaller bat greatly improves their eye hand coordination. We now have a chance to swing down and through the ball instead of up and out. Hitting a baseball is hard enough on its own. Eliminate things you have control over and work on the basic check points associated with hitting. Generate better bat speed and we are on our way to being better hitters. I will take nine hitters in my line-up who are going to go up to the plate and hit me five or six line drives every 10 at bats any day of the week over the hitter who is going to hit me five pop-flys. He's not helping us or himself.
If your son is 10 and under I would strongly encourage you to stay in a smaller barrel bat. Stay in a -13 (difference in the length and the weight) until he shows he can truly handle the additional weight. Then move to a -10. When you get to a point where you are a couple years out of middle school or high school baseball drop to a -8 or -8.5, then to a -5 one year out. The transition to the -3 which is required in school ball will be so much easier.
by Todd C. Buczek