The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the governing body of High School Baseball, is changing their bat rules to match NCAA rules. So bats that are illegal in NCAA play will become illegal in High School starting on January 1, 2012 (some will enforce the rule beginning in 2011). The NCAA ban of 100% composite bats began last year. This will bring a plethora of changes that will turn the baseball bat industry upside down Here’s what’s going on (you can also visit here to check out my recommendations by category and cost):
The rule changed is NFHS 1.3.2, which requires (starting 1/1/12) all non-wood bats to meet the Batted Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) standard. This is standard is much stricter than the old BESR standard.
Why the changes? According to the NFHS, “the new standard ensures that performances by non-wood bats are more comparable to those of wood bats. It’s also expected to minimize risk, improve play and increase teaching opportunities”. They say “After working with the NCAA and having access to its research, we’ve concluded it’s in our best interest to make this change”. “BBCOR includes the BESR standard, so we’re actually expanding upon our current standard, which will be more appropriate for our age and skill level”.
It is certain that many composite barrel bats will fail to meet the new standard making them illegal in 2012. Composite handles will still be fine, but most composite barrels will not meet the new standard. This link provides a list of the current bats that “appear” to be approved for now NFHS.
The rule change comes from research conducted by the NCAA which lead to them making the change now in place. The research concluded that composite barrel bats have a break in period that makes them exceed the BESR standard. BESR measures the ball exit speed. The research showed that the composite barrel bats increased ball exit speed of 10 to 15 mph faster than what is allowed when broken in.
Now, manufacturers may come up with composite barreled bats that meet the new BBCOR standard and the NCAA could lift its ban. However, the issue is that the bats change significantly (for the better if you are a hitter) over time. So, we don’t see the NCAA allowing these bats again. Since the NCAA has done the research, we would expect the NFHS to use it to ban the composite barrel bats, too.
As mentioned, this will certainly stand the baseball bat world on its head. The baseball bat manufacturers are hard at work to make the best quality bats that fit within these new standards available for the 2011 season. Youth baseball is fine for now but is sure to follow. See the NFHS’s press releases on this topic here.
View all the new standards.