You stepped up to the plate with your trusty softball bat. Just a few days back, you used the bat perfectly in practice. But today, as you swing and hit the ball, you feel a shocking lack of power. Even though you hit it with every bit of power you have, the ball just did not want to fly that far. What gives?
Well, unfortunately, your softball bat is dead and requires replacing. But you don’t see any cracks or dents in the barrel. In fact, the handle also feels pretty sturdy. It can’t possibly be dead suddenly, right? Nope, it’s dead. Replace it and move on.
Softball bats, like all sports equipment, can expire. You cannot expect a single bat to last you a lifetime. It just doesn’t happen. But what causes it to go dead? And what can you do to prevent it?
These are the questions that I will answer today. Here, I will help you figure out if your softball is dead, how you can prevent it from dying sooner than its time is up, and what you can do if it dies.
Do Softball Bats Wear Out?
Yes, eventually, all softball bats wear out. Though most manufacturers these days use different methods to enhance the lifespan of their softball bats, the truth is that no bat in the world can last indefinitely. One day or another, the softball bat will need to be replaced.
You might notice a poor performance from the bat suddenly. Or the bat can start to crack along the barrel. Or maybe you will start hearing weird and dull thuds coming out of it when you hit the ball. These are the common symptoms of a dead softball bat.
How to Tell if a Softball Bat is Dead?
Easy as it may sound, identifying a dead softball bat can be quite tricky, especially for a rookie hitter. Sure, if it cracks down the barrel, it is a safe bet that it is dead. But not every softball bat cracks when its time is up. Some bats, such as alloy softball bats, simply start performing poorer.
To make things easier, let me give you a quick rundown of some of the telltale signs that will help you know that your softball bat is dead and requires replacement.
1. Power Decrease
One of the first signs of a dead softball bat is that its power decreases drastically. The same bat that you used to hit home runs with will have a hard time driving the ball through the field even when you hit the ball with its sweet spot. Once that happens, you need to think about replacing it.
If you are using a composite bat that you bought recently, do not be too hasty to discard it right away for poor performance. Even a high-end composite softball bat requires some breaking in. So you need to take it out to the ballpark and hit around 150 to 300 balls with it to unlock its fullest potential.
2. Unusual Sound
All softball bats make a sound when you hit the ball with them. And the type of sound it produces can be different depending on its materials and construction design. Typically, if you are using an alloy bat, you should hear a loud “ping” sound the moment the ball hits the bat.
But as the bat nears the end of its lifespan, the sound gets a lot duller. Over time, you will notice the sound changing from a “ping” to a “pong.” Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t notice the sound difference, a lot of veterans have a hard time figuring out whether the bat needs replacing using this method only.
3. Cracks or Dents
A more obvious way to figure out if your softball bat is dead is to check for cracks. If you are using an alloy softball bat, you should look for dents as these bats do not crack. It is natural for softball and baseball bats to show some minor cracks and wear after you use them a couple of times.
However, if you see massive cracks in the barrel, or if it seems dented severely, then it is probably dead and requires replacing. There are a couple of ways to fix your cracked softball bat if the damage is not too severe, though. But eventually, you need to switch to a new bat.
4. Pronounced Stinging
Most composite bats in the market come with advanced sting dampening features to reduce the vibration it produces when you strike the ball. But if you suddenly notice that the bat vibrates too much even when you manage to strike the ball with its sweet spot, then it is probably dead or close to dying.
All bats vibrate when you hit the ball with them, and there are plenty of reasons why it happens. But if you hit the ball with the sweet spot of the bat, it should not rattle too hard. A dead softball bat, on the other hand, vibrates even when you hit the ball with its sweet spot, and that makes it near unusable.
5. Handle Gets Pushed Inside
If you notice your softball bat handle getting pushed into the barrel, then you need to change it immediately. There is no fix for it, and at that point, you do not want to use the bat anymore. This phenomenon is more common with bats that feature a two-piece construction.
When the connection between the two pieces of the bat gets damaged, the handle starts to get pushed into the barrel when you swing it. Sadly, you cannot repair the connection, at least not without taking it to a professional luthier and spending premium bucks. Frankly, it is simply not worth the hassle. Replacing it is way easier and cheaper too.
When Do Softball Bats Go Dead?
Any high-quality softball bat made by a good brand should last you a good long while before it shows any severe issues. In most cases, a softball bat survives at least a year or two under heavy use. At that point, you should already get your money’s worth out of the bat if you are a decent enough hitter.
There are reports of a new bat dying just after a couple of months. If that happens to you, that means you were just unlucky and ended up with a bad bat. I would recommend trying to reach out to the manufacturer and see if they will send you a replacement if that happens.
The lifespan of a softball bat also depends on a lot of factors such as how you store it, the type of ball you hit with it, weather, whether you are playing slowpitch or fastpitch softball, etc. So, the best advice I can give you is to use the bat with care and not share it or be reckless with its user.
If you or your coach has access to a compression tester, then you can easily determine whether your bat is close to dying. Typically, most slowpitch softball leagues give the team access to this testing method to see if the bat is fit for upcoming competitive games.
What does a dead softball bat sound like?
A dead softball bat will have a thud sound instead of the usual crack or ping. So, when your softball bat is in peak condition, the sound will be different. That’s why it’s better to get used to the sound because once it changes, you’ll immediately know that something is wrong with the bat.
Do composite softball bats go dead?
They sure do. Just like any other softball bat (alloy, wooden), a composite softball bat can also go dead. You’ll realize it once the bat lacks power and doesn’t perform as it once used to.
How to tell if a composite softball bat is dead?
The symptoms that you find when a softball bat goes dead are the same symptoms you’ll find when a composite bat goes dead as well. So, there’s nothing different. The symptoms (although I mentioned them earlier) are:
- Decreased power
- High vibration
- Weird sound
- Handle displacement
What does a dead composite softball bat sound like?
Composite bats don’t have the characteristic loud ping sound that you get from alloy bats. Instead, it sounds as if somebody dropped a really heavy rock down a well. So, the sound is deep and echoey.
How to Take Care of Your Softball Bat?
The trick to making your softball bat last is to take care of it. There are no hidden ways to suddenly restore your bat to its former glory. If it dies, it dies, and you have no other option but to replace it. But if you take care of it, then you can expect it to last a good while before you need to think about a replacement.
Here are my top four tips to make sure your softball bat lasts as long as possible.
1. Clean Frequently
The first tip, and probably the most important advice that I can give you is to clean your softball bat as often as possible. You would be surprised how much dirt and grime start to build up in different parts of the softball bat just after a couple of games. It can drastically reduce the lifespan and performance of the bat.
But if you only take the time to wipe it down with a clean cloth from time to time, you can reduce the dirt buildup quite a bit. And it only takes a couple of seconds to do that after each game. So, if you are not too hasty to just jam it inside the locker, it is pretty easy to make your softball bat last a long time.
2. Store it Properly
Another thing that you can do to make sure your softball bat survives longer is to store it properly. Make sure your locker is clean and does not have any moisture or temperature issues. Remember how I said composite bats could break if you use them in extremely cold weather. Well, if the temperature in your locker dips down often, it can ruin the lifespan of the bat.
Whenever I put away my bats after a game, I also toss in a couple of silicone dehumidifiers inside to keep the moisture in check. With composite or alloy bats, this might not be all that essential. If you are storing your wooden bats, then using a dehumidifier is a good idea as the moisture can damage them.
3. Do not Share
I know you are a good guy and when someone forgets to bring their bat to practice, you feel tempted to help them out. But if you are planning to share your expensive softball bat, then I would advise you to proceed with caution. Most softball bats have a limit to how many times you can hit the ball with them.
In fact, I would also recommend not using your game bat in your practice sessions unless you absolutely have to. This would help you get more use out of the bat over the course of the softball season. If you are lucky, you might even get two or three seasons’ worth of use out of it.
4. Use the Right Ball
You do not want to play baseball with your softball bat. This is the quickest way to damage and crack the bat. Baseball balls are tougher, and softball bats are simply not equipped to withstand the force of impact that it creates when you hit it. You only want to use softball balls for your bats.
In fact, in practice sessions, I would recommend using lighter balls as it would keep your bat performing in peak condition for longer. These training balls have less density and leave no impact damage on the barrel of the bat. So you do not have to worry about it splitting in half.
5. Do not Knock Cleats with Bats
I am sure you have seen how a lot of professional MLB hitters knock the bottom of their metal cleats with their softball bat when they take their turn on the plate. It looks cool, right? Well, yes, I will not argue that it does look pretty stylish, but it also leads to your bat having a poorer lifespan.
If you are wearing metal cleats, knocking the barrel of the bat on it can lead to mini-fractures or cracks. You might not even notice it at first. But over time, those cracks will get bigger, and eventually, the bat will split wide open. So resist the urge, as cool as it may seem.
Can You Return a Dead Softball Bat?
By return, I do not mean returning to the manufacturer. Once a bat dies, and if its warranty is up, you cannot get a replacement from the company, and you just have to accept that.
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do with a dead softball bat. If you happen to notice your bat dying and performing poorly at an early phase, you can delay the inevitable to some degree. Once it dies, you should replace it immediately instead of trying to restore it.
But if the bat is still under warranty, you can try contacting the manufacturer, and see if they will help you out. I cannot guarantee that you will get a replacement, but it is definitely worth a try. After all, I got a replacement bat a few years back when it died after only five months.
Replacement Options if Your Softball Bat Goes Dead
I know how it feels when a softball bat starts performing poorly. You might be tempted to try and fix it yourself, but I would strongly advise against it. The end result will never be the same as buying a new high-end bat. Let me leave you with a couple of replacement options if your softball bat dies on you.
Both alloy and composite softball bats are pretty popular in little league or high-school softball games. Though I typically prefer playing with a composite bat, I will also suggest an alloy bat that I have used in the past and got good results with. So, nobody will feel left out.
Rawlings | Mantra | Fastpitch Softball Bat Series | Multiple Lengths
Whether I am looking for the catcher’s mitt or a new softball bat, I have always been an avid fan of Rawlings. This brand has been my go-to choice ever since my childhood. And now that I am a coach myself, I always recommend this brand to my players and readers.
As you may know, Softball bats can be quite expensive. Some high-end options can cost obscene amounts of money. Compared to those bats, the 400 dollars estimated price tag of the Rawlings Mantra is quite reasonable. It is still not exactly cheap, but you will get your money’s worth out of it.
If I had to use one word to describe the bat, I would use the word – Perfect. Because that is what it is. It features a two-piece composite barrel with a three-step inner barrel. What that gives you is a perfect balance and a perfect swing.
For athletes that want a smooth swing through the strike zone, there are very few bats out there that are better than the Mantra. Its even weight distribution and swing strength earned somewhat of a legendary status among players who have used this bat before.
What makes this bat truly stand out is its knob design. The knob can be equipped with the Blast Motion Sensor that sends data points to your smartphone once you pair it up with the technology and allows you to analyze and improve your swing. So, for training rookie hitters, this can be a fantastic pickup.
The handle of the bat comes with a tapered grip that allows you to maximize your control over your swing. It is available in multiple sizes and weights. So you can pick up the length that you are most comfortable with.
The blue and white aesthetics of the bat is also quite stunning. It looks great at the hands of just about any hitter. I know the price is quite steep. But if you have the budget, you cannot go wrong with the Mantra.
As sad as it is, all softball bats go dead eventually. Even a high-end softball bat that you spent a lot of greens to get will one a day require replacing. The best you can do is make sure it lasts as long as it can. If you get at least one year of use out of your bat, that is money well spent.
I hope my article could clarify if you had any misconceptions about softball bats and their durability. My handy list of tips, if followed correctly, should help you get decent use out of your bat. Cheers!