A Checklist for Beginner Players: Bat, Hat, Baseball Turf Shoes, What Else?
In the sport of baseball, as in all games, there are some pieces of gear, equipment and apparel that you just can’t go without. We’ve rounded up some of the most important equipment and accessories in the game and shed a little bit of light on them here in this article.
At the end of it, you should have a pretty good impression of what you need to play baseball, and if you still have questions remaining, feel free to get in touch with us about it. We’d be more than happy to set you up for success with the sport this upcoming season, even if it’ll be you or your little one’s first time at bat!
A Bat: The baseball bat you choose to play with is arguably your most important piece of equipment. That is, if you stake your claim as a batter. Admittedly, to some degree or other you wouldn’t really be able to play the game without all of the equipment on this list, but you really cannot play baseball without a bat and a ball, and here’s one of the central pieces of equipment.
The length, balance and material of the bat are the most important features of the bat insomuch as they will affect the performance of a given model. For the most part, bats are made from one of the following materials:
- Wood - Wood is the original material that all bats used to be made out of, and many bats today are still made from wood, especially those used in professional major leagues.
Today, wood is preferred by some players because of the excellent compressive strength and powerful sweet spot, which, though unforgiving and small, delivers amazing results and a satisfying “pop” off of the bat.
However, despite their excellent performance, wood bats are subject to breaking due to mishits or when pushed too hard. In addition, wood requires a lot more skill and proficiency to use to its full potential.
- Composite - Many bats today are made of composite materials, which can be made much tougher and much lighter than wood, while delivering similar results. Composite, though it does not allow for the exact same performance as wood, can be made to deliver great compressive strength and a much larger, more forgiving sweet spot. Also its light nature makes composite material popular with a lot of players, especially some youth players.
- Aluminum - Finally, many bats today are made from aluminum. Like composite, aluminum can be used to make immensely strong and tough bats, with large, forgiving sweet spots. Aluminum can also be used to manufacture bats that vary greatly in terms of size, length, weight, balance and durability. While aluminum is not the preferred material of the professionals, aluminum bats are arguably the toughest bats in the world; they are nearly indestructible.
Bats are also affected by the balance they provide to a player, which can vary from well balanced to end-loaded. The metric to keep in mind here is the word “weight drop.” The weight drop of a bat is the difference between a bat’s length and weight, as measured by a single number, followed by the minus sign.
- End Loaded vs. Balanced - As mentioned above, a bat can be either balanced or have an end load, connoted by the weight drop, which is the difference between a bat’s length and weight.
For example, a bat that weighs 18 ounces and is 26 inches long will have a weight drop of -8, which you will see listed alongside the product. The greater the weight drop, the heavier the bat will feel, and the lesser the weight drop, the lighter the bat will feel. All things being equal, the shorter a bat is, the lighter and more balanced it will feel, although this is subject to influence by the weight.
As a general rule, heavy hitters tend to prefer bigger weight drops because they can put a lot of muscle and power into a swing, whereas precision hitters and tack drivers like lighter, more balanced bats for the control that they offer.
- Length and Weight - Length and weight also affect a player’s ability to use a bat effectively, and these two metrics are the ones that are used to calculate the weight drop in the first place. In order to check to see if a bat is well sized for a player, have the player stand with the knob of the bat at the middle of his chest and the barrel extended outward away from his body toward the front, parallel with the ground. With the bat in this position, the player should be able to reach outward and grip just about to the middle of the barrel.
When checking for weight, there are a few ways to check to see if a bat is well suited to a player based on how heavy it is. One of them, which is one of the more reliable methods, is to have the player hold the bat by the grip near the knob with one hand. The player should then extend the bat outward in front of the body or to the side of the body. With the bat parallel to the ground, the player should be able to comfortably keep the bat extended for at least 30 to 45 seconds, although some will say closer to a minute is safer. Without control, a bat is no good, after all.
Baseballs: we’re not going to wear you out as much on the subject of baseballs as we will on the matter of baseball bats and fielding gloves, but know that baseballs are another essential component of the game. It’s called the sport of baseball for a reason!
Basically, a baseball will make the grade if you can assure yourself of the quality of its components, which are, namely, a durable, cushioned cork center, quality winding, and a high grade leather cover. Also, when you shop here with us, you get quantity discounts on baseballs!
The Proper Fielding Glove: Picking out the right fielding glove is also critical to your success during a game, and no two players should necessarily, by right, use the same two gloves. Different qualities will appear to different players. To learn more about the different gloves and where they are useful, consult our recent blog on the different types of gloves.
Pitchers and catchers, in general, will require the most specialized types of gloves. In other words, catchers will prefer catcher's mitts, which are designed to stop pitches in their tracks and to protect the catchers’ hands against abuse and fatigue. Pitchers, on the other hand, will prefer gloves that have closed webs so the batter can’t read the pitch before it gets to him.
Infielders and outfielders, by contrast, will exhibit more variety in the traits that they prefer in baseball gloves; check out the guide via the link above to learn more.
Optional: Batting Gloves: You don’t need batting gloves in order to play baseball, but the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of batters who prefer them. You just need to try them out and figure out where you stand on the issue.
Those who prefer them will tell you that they improve your sensitivity and grip on the bat while at the same time diminishing the sting of mishits. Plus, there’s no doubt that some players prefer them because they look cool.
On the flip side, there are players who don’t like them, because, they argue, they decrease your sensitivity to feedback that comes to you through the handle of the bat.
Ultimately, it’s up for you to decide, but a lot of players use them - you can try for yourself.
A Baseball Cap: A baseball cap is not just a necessary part of the uniform. It is an absolutely critical piece of equipment that players need to be effective during the game. In fact, it’s useful not only during the day but also at night.
During the day, a baseball cap keeps light out of a player’s eyes, which makes it a lot easier for players to rein in those fly balls that come their way, particularly outfielders. Even at night, under the lights, baseball caps cut glare.
Baseball Turf Shoes: Turf shoes are not cleats, so don’t get them confused, but turf shoes are useful in the game nonetheless. Turf shoes lack the grips of cleats and are intended to give a good grip on dirt, grass and turf along through the composition and tread of the sole. They are also excellent shoes for baseball practice as the right models (and training shoes) can provide you not only with great traction but also a certain degree of ankle support you otherwise might not have. You might even be able to find them in your team colors here!
For one thing, baseball turf shoes are safer for some players to use because they prevent you from getting your leg caught and twisted while making swift maneuvers. At the same time, turf shoes protect turf from the ravaging influences that cleats will have on them. Essential not only for practice but for some situations in competitive play, a good pair of baseball turf shoes can be a real asset.
Optional: Cleats: As stated above, cleats are not useful for all players and in many instances turf shoes will be more practical. However, some players, including some batters, will prefer the grip they get from a good pair of cleats. Again, this is up to you to decide.
A Gear Bag: A gear bag gives you plenty of room to store your essentials, whether you’re hauling them off to practice or out to the dugout in preparation for a game. In addition, some gear bags are specially designed to keep your gear and equipment safe, with specialized pockets for bats, sunglasses and more. Do you absolutely need a gear bag? No, you don’t, but you’ll save time and effort if you do pick up a good one!
Sunglasses: Sunglasses, like a good baseball cap, are a critical component of a player’s gear. Without a good pair of sunglasses, you can easily lose a baseball in the deep blue of the sky or the glare of the sun or lights. That can be not only dangerous to the player, but it can cause a botched play and result in a loss - and no one wants either of those two things.
Plus, some sunglasses are polarized, will cut glare and even increase the contrast of colors between, say, the sky and the ball or the turf or the grass and the ball, which can boost your visual acuity. Much more than just cool eyewear, sunglasses are an essential part of the game.
Batting Helmets and Catchers’ Protective Equipment: Batting helmets are probably going to be provided by your team or by the league, much like some of the rest of the gear on this list, but they are a necessary component of play, and you’re probably going to be out of compliance if you try to play without one. There’s a reason they’re ubiquitous.
That also makes it a good idea to practice with a baseball batting helmet, as it will help to protect your face, head and neck while you are practicing, which is no time to welcome an injury!
As for catchers’ protective equipment, for catchers, this is an integral part of the game. Catchers need to protect their faces, heads, necks chests and knees from errant pitches and mishits.
What Else? You Decide!
These essential categories of gear are not the only gear and equipment that you might want to bring into practice or into a game. For example, you’ll need to wear your uniform into a game, but that’s something that your team will probably provide for you. From baseball turf shoes to sunglasses, a bat and a fielding glove, there’s a lot you could need for practice or a game.
Whatever else you think you need, add it to your roster and then find it here - and if you have any questions at all, get in touch with a member of our customer service team. We’ll help point you in the direction of the right gear, and we’re only ever a call away. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-540-BATS today; we’ll get you set!
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