You just dropped a wad of cash on the sickest bat you could find. If you expect it to strengthen your game, preserve its condition with the following advice from James Sass, director of marketing for Louisville Slugger.
Regardless of the type of bat you prefer—alloy, composite or hybrid—it will eventually fall flat in performance. How fast that happens, though, is in your hands.
“What we really see is not so much the material not lasting long; it’s more of how a player uses the bat,” Sass says.
First and foremost, Sass recommends minimizing when and where you use your bat. If you’re getting in a little batting practice before games, or trying to get used to the bat, that’s no problem. But if you frequently hit off a tee or in a cage, Sass suggests using an old aluminum or wooden bat instead.
“With any performance product, what you’re paying for is the technology that goes in there, so that you can perform your best,” he says. “The way to do that is to use [your bat] as little as possible, so that you’re not going to ruin it in practice or hitting off a tee.”
Sass also recommends not letting your teammates hit with your bat. “If they do, it’s obviously going to get a lot more use,” he says.
Turning the bat as you hit is another way to prolong its life. Since there’s no front or back, this ensures that you’re using every part of the bat’s surface. “You’re going to end up spreading the hits around [the bat],” Sass explains. “[They aren’t] just going to concentrate on one side, which could cause [the bat] to fail [more quickly].”
A final factor that shortens a bat’s useful life is weather, which you can’t control. This particularly affects players in the northern states, where it’s often cold when the season starts. “It’s not so much the bat, it’s the ball,” Sass says. “As it gets colder, the ball gets harder and that much tougher on the bat.” So be mindful of how much you’re using your bat in chilly weather.