From very simple wooden slowpitch softball bats in 19th century, nowadays, new technologies help bat makers to invent many types of bats which could fit different type of players and bring optimal performance. Basically, there are 4 methods to classify slowtpitch softball bats.
Classified based on: One-piece and two-piece
Handle and barrel of a two-piece slowpitch softball bat are 2 separate parts which are bonded together; sometimes they are even made from different material. On the other hands, one-piece bat’s handle and barrel belong to 1 solid piece made from same material. Each kind of bat has its own advantages. One-piece bat is stronger than two-piece one but its vibration level is also higher. On the other hand, two-piece bat has better trampoline effect and flexibility. Unfortunately, there are some leagues that don’t allow players to use two-piece bats.
Classified based on material
There are 4 main materials used to make slowpitch softball bat: wood, alloy, composite and hybrid. Wooden bat is the oldest type. Types of wood used are ash, maple and bamboo. Nowadays, wooden bats are not widely used because of outstanding performance of alloy and composite bats. There is composite wood bat which is a combination of 2 materials. However, it’s still not accepted in many major leagues.
Alloy bat was introduced around 1990s and rapidly became popular thanks to its strength and light weight. Golden age of alloy bats only lasted until the introduction of composite ones. With good performance, light weight, better durability and performance, new innovations and cutting-edge technologies developed every year; composite bats are the most used nowadays.
Last type is hybrid bat which is a mix of alloy and composite one. In short, hybrid bat is two-piece bat with alloy barrel and composite handle.
Single-Wall vs. Double (Multi) Wall
Originally, slowpitch softball bat only has one barrel wall, it’s called single-wall bat. Later, with purpose of increasing trampoline effect, barrel with 2 or more walls was introduced to the market. Double (multi) wall bat has not only better trampoline effect but also more durability because it’s thicker and sturdier than single-wall one. The biggest weakness of double (multi)-wall bat is that it’s not approved in all leagues.
Balanced vs. End-loaded vs. Max-loaded
It is known that swing speed is significantly affected by how the weight of a bat is distributed across its length. Based on weight distribution, there are 3 kinds of slowpitch softball bats: balanced, end-loaded and max-loaded. As its name implies, balanced bats has its weight distributed evenly along its length, so it’s easy for players to control the bat. Therefore, balanced bat is the most common type. End-loaded bat is designed for hitters who want to have extra momentum when swinging. In this type, the bat’s weight concentrates near the endcap. The last type is max-loaded bat. Like end-loaded bats, max-loaded bats also have its weight distributed more at the end of the bat but the difference is that max-loaded bats have more weight at the end. Max-loaded bats are only suitable for powerful hitters who know how to control the swing well.
In conclusion, each type of bat has its own strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it’s fundamental to fully understand all types of slowpitch softball bats to choose the best one for you.