What is the secret to being a pro hitter? If I throw this question out there, most of you would probably say that the secret is to train hard and dedicate yourself fully to the sport. And you would be right, to some extent.
However, while training and passion are both critical to success, the choice of softball bat also plays a massive role in your overall hitting skill. Most newbies to the game don’t know this. And if nobody helps them learn the differences between softball bats, it can become a massive roadblock to their progress.
You can find three main types of softball bats: light, balanced, and end-loaded. Of course, the perfect one for you depends on your physique, swing technique, and many other factors. Whenever I am working with a new hitter, I try to monitor their playstyle and drop some suggestions as to which type of bat is best suited for him.
If you are new to this game and want some guidance when choosing your softball bat, I cannot just send you back empty-handed. So, I will give you a head-to-head comparison between balanced and end-loaded softball bats and help you get a clearer picture of which one you want for your specific playstyle.
Difference Between End loaded and Balanced Softball Bat
Needless to say, end-loaded and balanced softball bats are pretty different from each other. They are designed to accomplish two different things. One gives you control and precision, while the other is perfect for strong swings and heavy hits.
The main difference between the two bat types is their weight. While a balanced softball bat comes with an even weight distribution across its length, end-loaded bats are top-heavy.
Not only are end-loaded bats heavy at the top, but they are also typically heavier than balanced bats in all sections. If you try to balance an end-loaded bat on your finger, though, you will notice that it tends to lean towards its top side.
The difference in how these two variants perform and feel is quite significant. But if you are playing at a beginner level, it might not impact too much. In little league or high-school baseball, most hitters use a balanced bat anyways since an end-loaded bat might be a bit too challenging for them to handle.
But when you’re playing college-level softball, even a great softball bat will fail if it doesn’t complement your playstyle. That’s why knowing the difference is key in understanding what bat is the best fit for you.
A Quick Look into Balanced vs End loaded Softball Bats
If you don’t want to get into the dirty details below, you can just look at the chart to understand the key differences between an end-loaded and a balanced bat.
|Features||End-loaded Bats||Balanced Bats|
|Weight Distribution||Top-heavy||Even distribution|
|Usage||Suitable for seasoned power hitters||Beginner-friendly|
|Highlighting Factor||Powerful Strikes||Control and Precision|
|Price||Reasonable||A Bit Expensive|
What is a Balanced Softball Bat?
As the name implies, balanced softball bats have a balanced weight distribution across their entire length. Since the weight is not focused on either end, the player can generate the swing speed quicker. This type of bat is perfect for hitters that want to make strong contact with the ball.
Naturally, balanced softball bats are the preferred option for most contact hitters. Since it is not very heavy, you do not need a strong physique to wield it. With some practice, you will be able to swing the bat quickly and accurately with a lightweight, balanced baseball bat.
So, balanced bats are the most commonly used fastpitch bats. In fastpitch softball, bunting is super important. And balanced bats can improve your bunts and other contact hits.
Who Should Use Balanced Bats?
Balanced bats have a well-rounded design that is suitable for most players. If you are a contact hitter, a balanced bat should feel right at home in your hands. I also recommend that most young hitters and high-schoolers stick to balanced bats until they get a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
My Pick: Louisville Slugger LXT Fastpitch Softball Bat
Anybody who spent more than a couple of days playing baseball should know the name of the brand Louisville Slugger. I have been a huge fan of their black flame pitching machine throughout my coaching career. But this time, I want to talk about one of their top softball bats, the 2022 LXT.
While most fastpitch bats are two-piece or one, this has a three-piece design that features the VCX2 connection system. So, you get more flex = less vibration = greater comfort with each swing.
The barrel is made using Carbon Composite and has something called the PBF technology. What it does in practice is improve the responsiveness and feel of the barrel, giving you the maximum pop and sweet spots as you swing the bat. It is available in different sizes and drops weights, ranging from -11 to -8. If you are a beginner, you might feel better with a -10 or -12 drop weight option. But for an experienced hitter, I would recommend going with the heavier -8 drop weight option.
The Premium LS PRO Comfort grip of the bat features increased tack to give you a better feel as you swing. In addition, it greatly affects your swing control, making it easier to hit the ball with the sweet spot of the bat. And combined with the balanced weight design of the bat, you will be hitting like a pro in no time.
While Louisville Slugger earned its name on manufacturing affordable baseball gears and accessories, the 2022 LXT is not exactly cheap. It costs somewhere around 400 to 600 bucks. And if you are a beginner, it can be quite expensive. However, quality does not come cheap, and with this investment, quality is a given.
What is an End loaded Softball Bat?
End-loaded bats, on the other hand, are slightly heavier towards the barrel end. Because of its top-heavy design, the batter can create a whip-like motion while swinging this type of bat. However, using this bat can be quite difficult unless you have a strong physique.
Batters who use end-loaded bats are typically bulky and physically fit, which considering the design of these bats, is a must. Since these bats have a higher mass near the strike zone, it allows you to hit the ball further and with more strength as you make contact. But it is harder to control for a beginner.
End-loaded bats are also great slowpitch softball bats. The incoming pitches in a slowpitch game are slow (duh!), but it makes hitting the homers difficult. That’s why the end-loaded bats give you enough power and flex to make the big hit.
Who Should Use End loaded Bats?
This type of bat is perfect for hitters that are physically strong and accurate enough to hit the ball consistently. End-loaded bats are a common sight in slowpitch softball since the ball travels slower. If your goal is to hit home runs and deliver strong swings, it is the perfect pick for you.
By design, these bats are harder to control. Without proper physical fitness, you will not be able to swing it very effectively. So, I recommend hitting the batting cage for a good while before you head for a match using an end-loaded softball bat.
My Pick: Marucci CAT9 Connect
Whenever I am dealing with a heavy hitter, I try to get him to buy the CAT9 Connect. Made by Marucci, this is one softball bat that I can vouch for till the end of days. Why? Well, it delivers on everything that you want out of an end-loaded softball bat.
It is a two-piece bat featuring a Carbon Composite handle along with a thermally treated Aluminum Alloy Barrel. The outer locking system in the unit ensures the grip, and the barrel has a strong and stiff connection allowing you to get a strong swing without the bat coming apart.
The bat is available in multiple sizes and is well-suited for all age groups. I typically go with a -5 drop weight since an end-loaded bat is supposed to be heavy. However, if you want a lighter feel, you can also go with a -10 or -8 drop weight variant.
What makes this bat truly special is its multi-variable wall design. Without getting too technical about it, all you need to know is that it has an expanded sweet spot allowing you to hit those home runs easily. The ring-free barrel construction of the bat eliminates dead spots and gives you unparalleled hitting freedom.
Sure, it is a bit on the pricey side with a price tag of just under 300 dollars. But it does deliver on performance. If you are looking for a high-quality end-loaded softball bat, this is without a doubt one of the best choices out there.
Is a Balanced or End-loaded Bat Better?
So, which one is better? – That is the big question, isn’t it? If you were following along closely to my article, you would notice that I never advocated for any one type. Instead, I presented the strengths and weaknesses of both balanced and end-loaded bats. The reason – there are no clear winners in this discussion.
Balanced bats are an all-around good choice for newbies to those playing at a professional level. If you are a contact hitter and want to swing quickly with high precision, there is very little argument that can be made against a balanced bat.
On the other hand, if you are a heavy hitter who wants to hit powerful home runs, an end-loaded bat might be better for you. But wielding it is no small feat, and if you do not have the physique to swing an end-loaded bat properly, it will end up doing more harm than good.
Hopefully, my extensive comparison between balanced and end-loaded softball bats could equip you with enough knowledge to help you figure out which one is more suited for your hitting style. Cheers!