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Wood Bats & The Sweet Spot

Swinging and hitting a baseball is a science unto itself.

Traditional wood bats have smaller “sweet spots” than aluminum bats which have been in vogue for years with youth and college leagues. The sweet spot is described as the point at which the ball, as it is struck with the bat, attains its maximum exit rate or speed off of the bat.

Robert Elias, in an article regarding baseball bats and baseball bat manufacturing, describes aluminum bats and aluminum technology, which causes the baseball to exit the bat’s sweet spot with too much velocity, in this fashion: That speed has threatened to fundamentally change the nature of the game, and thus the NCAA has imposed limitations. And metal bats also cannot exceed a certain ratio of weight to length.”

The result is that aluminum bats make hitters less accurate resulting in inconsistent hitting when they make the transition from youth or college leagues to the major leagues where wood bats are the norm. Hitting with wood bats, and particularly birch bats, requires a hitter to perfect the swing and to be far more accurate in ball contact with the bat.

Baseball players that become used to swinging with an aluminum bat where the ball can virtually be hit anywhere along the bat’s length and with little attention paid to the bat’s sweet spot, must completely recondition their swings when making the transition to wood bats.

Birch bats can make this transition easier. This is because birch wood has a specific gravity close to that of maple and yet birch bats are lighter than maple bats making them easier to manipulate by hitters through their entire swing.

Robert Elias. “You’re Never too Young to Dream: The Craftsmanship of Baseball Bats.” Nine, 12/2(2004): 123.

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