When you are shopping for a new softball bat, you will face a lot of big decisions. You need to choose the material and length and also think about its construction design, such as whether it is a one-piece bat or two-piece. While all of these features are easy to understand, one factor is not as simple to determine, the flex index.
For those that don’t know, bats from big manufacturers like Miken, Easton, DeMarini, etc., often come with two types of handle flex, stiff flex, and regular flex. And the performance difference between the two flex types is quite significant. So, you need to decide which one you want based on your hitting style.
Quick answer – regular flex gives you a whip-like action, and stiff flex doesn’t. Plus, regular flex has a nasty sting if you miss the sweet spots, whereas stiff flex’s sting is more manageable.
Before you decide, though, you need to understand EXACTLY what it is and how it impacts its performance. Unfortunately, unlike bat size or material, this factor is a bit more challenging to understand. I recommend trying the bat out yourself to understand which one offers you the better swing.
Not everyone has that luxury, and if you cannot try out the bat yourself. Here, I will talk about the differences between a stiff flex and a regular flex softball bat in detail and help you pick out the better option between the two for your specific playstyle.
What is Handle Flex on a Softball Bat?
Handle flex describes the stiffness of the barrel of the softball bat. With greater flex, the barrel of the softball bat has a whip-like action when you swing it. This results in you being able to generate more power in your swing at the moment when the barrel connects to the ball.
On the other hand, a stiffer handle will provide a better trampoline effect when the ball hits the sweet spot of the bat. This will allow the hitter to throw the ball further and makes it easier to hit home runs. When power hitters buy their softball bats, they usually prefer a stiffer flex on the handle of their bat.
Difference Between a Stiff Flex and a Regular Flex Softball Bat?
These days, I see many brands focusing more on the handle flex of their softball bats while marketing. But I do not think it affects the performance too much. Whether you are a contact hitter or a power hitter, if other factors such as its length or whether it is a composite or alloy barrel are checked, the flex doesn’t matter all that much. There are some subtle differences in performance between the two handle types.
For instance, I always recommend stiff flex handles for power hitters. Sure, it is harder to swing, but if you are a strong player, you should have little trouble wielding it. If you plan on hitting doubles, triples, or home runs, a stiff flex handle softball bat is perfect for you. It allows you to hit the ball deeper down the field.
Alternatively, a regular flex handle is for players who are not built as strong physically. Because of its whip-like action, you will be able to translate your hits into base runs pretty easily. Sure, a power hitter can also get good results from a regular flex bat, but it is usually better at the hand of a contact hitter.
Another difference that you might feel between stiff and regular flex handles is the post-impact vibration, or in simpler terms, sting. Softball bats, when struck with the ball, often vibrate. While high-end composite barrel bats have features installed to counteract this effect, alloy barrel bats have a more pronounced sting.
With a stiff handle bat, you will feel much less of the sting if you miss the sweet spot of the bat. On the other hand, because of the natural flex of a regular flex bat, a lot of the sting gets dampened even when you swing and connect to the ball.
What Does it Mean if a Bat is Stiff?
If a bat is stiff, it means that therce is less flex from the handle to the barrel of the bat. In other words, it is a stiff flex bat that is more suitable for power hitters and hitters who want the ball to explode down the field when they get a good hit on it.
Stiff handle bats are becoming quite popular these days among hardcore hitters. It allows you to hit the ball deeper down the field by producing a greater trampoline effect as the barrel hits the ball.
The alternative, a regular flex bat, is somewhat more flexible compared to a stiff handle bat. It has a whip-like effect as you swing it, allowing you to get more power at the point of contact. So even if you have a weaker physique, you will be able to drive the ball down the middle pretty easily.
Is Flex in a Bat Good?
It depends entirely on the hitter. In fact, I believe every hitter should try out the bat personally before he commits to it. When you pick it up and try out a couple of swings with it, you will get a good feel of it and can determine whether it is for you or not much easier.
With All Said and Done
While the flex handle of the bat is an important element to think about, it is not the end of the world if you make the wrong choice. I have seen many hitters go on happily with their careers without knowing anything about the flex and its impact on performance.
But if you want to take your comfort and hitting experience to the next level, you should give some time to think about this. Hopefully, my article on the difference between stiff flex and regular flex handles could help you land the best softball bat for your needs. Good luck!