Youth baseball bats will be undergoing some changes for the 2018 seasons. Effective January 1, 2018, USA Baseball will implement their new method for measuring bat performance in the testing of youth bats. The new USA Baseball bat standard, or USABat, will allow youth baseball organizations to reach their goal of wood-like bat performance in order to preserve the long-term integrity of the game, as well as instill a sense of uniformity among leagues. As the governing body for the sport of baseball in the United States, USA Baseball will institute this standard in the following national member organizations:
- American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC)
- Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken Baseball]
- Dixie Boys Baseball
- Dixie Youth Baseball
- Little League Baseball
- PONY Baseball
If your youth league is governed by any of the organizations listed above, then you will have to purchase a new bat for legal play in 2018.
In addition to the new bat standard, the above leagues will also now allow 2 5/8″ barrel bats to be used in competitive play, provided they meet USABat regulations.
Bats following the USABat standard will be available for purchase after September 1, 2017. To identify officially-sanctioned youth bats, look for the “USA Baseball” licensing mark, located on the taper.
T-ball regulations will not be changing, but these bats will now require the USA Baseball T-ball mark. All new 2018 T-ball bats will include this mark and be legal for play. If you already bought a T-ball bat without the USA Baseball mark, you can buy a sticker at www.usabaseballshop.com to make your bat legal for 2018 and beyond.
This new standard change can be confusing at times, but the best way to help ensure a successful and enjoyable season is to stay informed. If you have any further questions on the change, be sure to ask your coach or a league official, and be on the lookout for the new USA Baseball-approved youth bats available September 1 at DICK’S Sporting Goods.