There is quite a stigma attached to bat rolling. Many believe that it is illegal, but it’s actually quite the opposite. A number of coaches will recommend rolling composite bats before using them for the game.
It depends on how you roll your bat that it is either deemed legal or illegal. For example, if you are shaving the softball bat or altering its specifications, then it is considered illegal. So, let me tell you the proper way of rolling a softball bat.
How To Roll a Softball Bat?
Rolling a softball bat is very simple. The process involves running the bat through two rollers that will be rotating. The aim here is to gradually stretch the fibers, the clear coat, and the paint of the bat. So, the rolling machine will reduce the stiffness of your bat and add more flex to it.
Now, different types of bats require different pressure to break in. if you put in too much pressure, then your bat will get damaged. So, when you are rolling the softball bat, make sure how much pressure it can handle.
What Does Rolling a Softball Bat Mean?
Bat rolling means you are quickening the break-in process of the bat. Usually, it takes about 500 hits even for the best softball bat to break in. And, at times, it can take up to 100 hits to fully break in. And, after that, you get a decent game out of the bat. But here, it augments the process and makes your bat game ready.
What Does Rolling a Softball Bat Do?
As I mentioned earlier, it compresses the barrel of the bat. This means that it stretches the composite fibers evenly throughout the length of the barrel.
There are a number of benefits to rolling a softball bat:
· Gives power
Normally, when you buy a brand-new bat, the fibers are quite stiff. So, by rolling, as I mentioned earlier, you are stretching the stiff fibers and getting a nice trampoline effect out of it. Now, when you are hitting the ball, you will be able to send it deeper field.
· Gets rid of dead spots
Many a time, you will notice that even when you have fully broken in a bat, there are a few dead spots on it. This is because the ball does not always hit the bat at the same spot. So, when the ball hits a dead spot, the barrel will not flex as much. Rolling the bat removes all the possible dead spots from the bat. It applies even pressure throughout the surface area of the barrel.
· Time saver
It takes several hits for a new bat to properly break in. It can take up to 500 hits, or it can go up to 800. Rolling makes your bat game-ready right away. But there is also a downside to the process.
The lifespan of the bat reduces when you roll it. And, you shorten it even more if you roll the bat at maximum pressure. Many believe that the more pressure you apply while rolling, the hotter your bats get. But, doing so will weaken your bat and cause it to break after a few hits.
Is Rolling a Softball Bat Illegal?
The topic of whether rolling a softball bat is legal or not is quite a grey area. Here’s why, according to Article 2a/3 by the National Federation of High Schools, the “..materials inside the bat or treatments/devices used to alter the bat specifications and/or enhance performance are prohibited and render the bat illegal.”
So, to justify the debate of legality, there are those who claim that it does not necessarily violate the rules as rolling simply speeds up the breaking-in process. It does not enhance the performance, nor does it alter any specifications of the bat.
How Do You Tell If a Bat Is Rolled or Shaved?
It’s usually difficult to figure out if a bat rolled or not. If it is done properly, then it does not tamper with the length of the bat. But there are a few signs here and there that let the secret out.
For example, rolling gives a spider-web look to the paint on the surface of the barrel. The label and the paint tend to peel off. And, in the case of bats with bigger barrels, you can feel the ridges by your hand.
Shaved bats are easier to detect. You can start off by checking the weight of the softball bat. If it’s been shaved, then it’s definitely going to weigh lighter.
You can also figure it out by inspecting the cap. Sometimes you can find marks on the end cap. Or, you can take the cap off and examine the insides of the barrel.
There’s another way of finding out if the bat is shaved or not. And that is compression testing. It can detect the flexibility of the inner walls.
How To Heat Roll a Softball Bat?
There’s only one subtle difference between heat rolling and regular bat rolling. In the former, you are heating up the softball bat before putting it through the rolling process. The heat stretches the fibers temporarily. This makes the rolling process easier.
But there is an issue with heat rolling. Since it temporarily stretches the fibers when heat is applied, after the bat cools down, the fibers shrink back. This decreases the effectiveness of bat rolling.
Does Rolling a Softball Bat Work?
Yes, bat rolling can successfully give you the desired results. For example, as I have mentioned above, you don’t have to wait for your bat to break in naturally. And it gets rid of any dead spots.
If you are a pro with handling bats, then you can do it at home. But if this is your first time, then it’s better to get it done professionally because you need to know the right amount of pressure that needs to be applied. Otherwise, you risk breaking your bat instead of breaking it in.
How To Shave a Softball Bat?
Shaving comes after rolling. It is not possible to shave a bat without rolling it first. After the bat is rolled, the end cap is removed. Then, by using a digital lathe or a drill, the inner layer of composite material is shaved off. You can remove about 0.5- 2 ounces of weight from the bat.
What Does Shaving a Softball Bat Do?
Shaving a softball bat completely changes the physiology of the bat. It certainly has its own advantages but, at the same time, it has a few disadvantages as well.
- Thinning out the insides of the bat makes it much lighter. So, the player can easily maneuver the bat during the game.
- It increases the trampoline effect of the bat. You can hit the ball about 40 feet deeper into the field.
- Shaving a bat actually tampers with its durability. The bat can break easily after taking in a few hits.
- It voids the warranty of the bat.
Are Shaved Softball Bats Illegal?
Yes. Shaving a softball bat is illegal in all the sanctioned league plays and using it is punishable. It can get the player penalized and banned for up to 2-5 years. Or, in a worst-case scenario, lifetime banishment!
For example, according to ASA/USA Softball (including NCAA),
- Article 310 N 07: Any person discovered using a non-approved bat shall be ejected from the game and are subject to further action by the protest committee.
- Article 305 E 04: A player found in possession of an altered bat and found guilty according to Article 305 of this Code shall be suspended for a five (5) year minimum.
- Article 305 E 05: Team discovered to have in its possession or control of an altered bat may be suspended for a two (2) year minimum.
The severity of the penalty depends on which association league the player is playing.
Does A Shaved Bat Sound Different?
A shaved softball bat does sound different. Since shaving involves emptying out the insides of the bat, it sounds hollower in comparison to a regular softball bat.
Does Shaving a Softball Bat Work?
Yes. Shaving a softball bat works. It adds more flex to the bat and increases the trampoline effect and the distance of the hit ball. But it shortens the lifespan of the bat.
In the End
Rolling or shaving a softball bat is entirely the decision of the player. If you are fond of letting your bat break in nature, there’s no one who can force you to do otherwise. Both processes are simple and can be done at home. Or, you can seek professional help as well.
But, if you want to roll your bat, make sure you double-check it with your coach. And, most importantly, understand the consequences of bat rolling. As for shaving your softball bat, if you are using it as a training bat for your child at home, then it is okay to shave it. But if you are using it for any of the league tournaments, you will be penalized for it.
So, whatever you do, make sure that you know the guidelines of the league that you are playing for properly beforehand. Hope this helps.