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One of the most sacred times for any young ball player is going bat shopping before the baseball season begins. There are so many models to choose from, and picking the right one is an essential part of preparing for a memorable season at the plate.
While bat shopping, players often look at the color, the model, and the performance of the bat. Parents often look mostly at the price tag, understandably so.
The number on that price tag is only going to go up when it comes to baseball bats. That is why it is important for both players and parents to know that bats have different certifications, and different leagues and age groups have different requirements for those certifications.
Two of the most common bat certifications are BBCOR and USSSA. There are several differences between these two bats.
In summary, USSSA stamped bats have a higher Bat Performance Factor (BPF) than BBCOR bats and come in various different barrel sizes. BBCOR bats are used at the high school and college level while USSSA bats are used at the youth level of travel baseball.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
- 1 What is Bat Performance Factor (BPF)?
- 2 What Are the Qualifications for a BBCOR Bat?
- 3 What Are the Qualifications for a USSSA Bat?
- 4 How Did BBCOR Come to Be?
- 5 What is USSSA?
- 6 Did You Know?
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Which bat has more pop? BBCOR or USSSA?
- 8.1 Why do different governing bodies have different bat regulations?
- 8.2 Are BBCOR bats legal for USSSA?
- 8.3 What are the other bat certifications?
- 8.4 Which bat is better? USSSA or USA Baseball?
- 8.5 Are two-pieced bats allowed by BBCOR standards?
- 8.6 What happens if a player uses an illegal bat during competition?
What is Bat Performance Factor (BPF)?
Before understanding these certifications, one must understand BPF.
Bat Performance Factor, often shortened to BPF, is a standard that determines how “live” a bat is. It measures the speed after impact of the bat compared to the speed of the ball before impact as well as the trampoline effect of the bat compared to that of the ball.
After these measurements have been tested and recorded, the bat receives a BPF number. This number is determined by comparing the collision of the ball with the bat and the collision of the ball against a solid wall.
A bat with a post collision speed that is 15% faster than that of a solid wall would receive a 1.15 as its BPF. A bat with a 5% increase would receive 0.5. Different governing bodies require different BPFs for their bats, and it is often stamped on the bat.
If a bat has a BPF of 0.4, it would qualify for a BBCOR stamp which allows for a 0.5 BPF; however, the BPF stamp will say 0.5 instead of 0.4 because the BPF listed on the bat just signals that the bat does not exceed the approved BPF.
Because of this, bat companies will often shoot for a BPF that is as close to the maximum number as possible in order to maximize performance.
When shopping for bats, it is important to research the bats actual BPF in order to understand how “live” the bat is. These can sometimes be found in product reviews from both experts and customers.
For a more in-depth look at BPF, take a look at this scientific summary from the Sports Science Laboratory at Washington State University.
What Are the Qualifications for a BBCOR Bat?
BBCOR stands for Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution. Essentially, BBCOR measures the trampoline effect of each bat. If a bat meets its standards in terms of trampoline effect, it can receive a BBCOR stamp.
BBCOR bats (see Amazon) also do not exceed a barrel size of 2 ⅝”, and the length and weight difference is always drop three (-3). What this means is that there is a difference of three in the length and weight of the bat.
For example, a bat that is 33 inches long will weigh 30 ounces. BBCOR bats typically come in 34, 33, 32, or 31 inches since they are made for the high school and college level.
BBCOR bats also have a BPF of 0.5.
What Are the Qualifications for a USSSA Bat?
A USSSA bat has a little more “pop” than a BBCOR bat because this organization allows its bats to have a little more of a trampoline effect.
USSSA bats (see Amazon) can have barrel sizes of 2 ¼”, 2 ⅝”, or 2 ¾”. The minimum size of a USSA marked bat is 29 inches with drop weights of either -5 or -8.
USSSA bats have a BPF of 1.15.
How Did BBCOR Come to Be?
BBCOR became a big talking point in the baseball world in 2011 when the NCAA decided to move from BESR approved bats to BBCOR. High School baseball leagues around the country would follow their trend the next season.
BESR stands for Ball Exit Speed Ratio. This is just a different way to measure how live a bat is. The standard for BESR bats was not as stringent as that of the new BBCOR model; therefore, the ball came off the bat at much higher velocities.
The reason for the switch from BESR to BBCOR was player safety. Many baseball fans also began to criticize the college game and how players’ offensive numbers were inflated due to the bats being too “hot”.
Also, certain BESR bats were known to be hotter than others. College teams typically have bat contracts that only allow them to use certain bats.
If company X’s bat was hotter than company Y’s, and College A had a contract with Company X while College B had a contract with Company Y, there was an unfair competitive advantage.
Another argument for the change was that the old BESR bats made it difficult for professional scouts to truly evaluate a hitter. The NCAA wanted to stick with using aluminum bats, but they also wanted to move toward a bat that was similar to that of a wood bat.
As expected, offensive numbers plummeted when the BBCOR bats were introduced. However, they have started to take an upward trend, but it is likely that they will never again reach that of the old BESR days.
What is USSSA?
USSSA stands for the United States Specialty Sports Association. They are the governing body for most travel baseball tournaments. They have four divisions: Major, AAA, AA, and A. At the Major and AAA level, teams often compete nationally.
USSSA has its own set of rules and regulations that tournament directors must follow, and bat regulations are no different. Their tournaments require bats to be stamped with the USSSA symbol. Umpires typically check this before games.
It is possible for some 14u and even 13u tournaments to only allow BBCOR bats since some players in those age groups play for their high school teams where they have to use BBCOR certified bats.
Did You Know?
Not to confuse you, but did you know that USSSA stamped bats actually must be BBCOR certified as well?
All USSSA stamped bats must pass the BBCOR certification before being legal for USSSA play. Once the bat is BBCOR certified, the BPF is tested to see if it qualifies to be endorsed by USSSA.
Remember, USSSA bats are allowed to have a BPF of 1.15, so as long as it meets those requirements, it will be stamped with the USSSA logo.
Below is a picture of a high school/college level bat that has only received BBCOR certification:
Now, here is a picture of a USSSA bat and its stamp:
As a consumer, it is important to look for the correct stamps when purchasing a bat. If all of the certification requirements confuse you, just simply knowing which stamps to look for on the bat can simplify the bat purchasing process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is USSSA better than BBCOR?
It is hard to compare the two in quality because they have different regulations. USSSA regulations are more loose than BBCOR making it difficult to compare the two in performance.
Which bat has more pop? BBCOR or USSSA?
USSSA bats tend to have more pop as they allow for a higher BPF, but remember, they are typically used in youth levels of baseball, so the extra pop is in the hands of younger, less developed players. BBCOR bats have come a long way though in the amount of pop they have.
Why do different governing bodies have different bat regulations?
The bat regulations of a league or organization often depend on the age group for which it serves.
Because BBCOR certified bats have a lower BPF, they are intended to be used by older players. USSSA bats are intended to be used by younger age groups because they have a higher BPF allowing players who are still growing to have a little more help to hit the ball hard.
Are BBCOR bats legal for USSSA?
Sometimes, USSSA tournaments allow for players to use BBCOR bats. This typically happens at the 13u and 14u levels as most of those players already own BBCOR bats because they use them in high school. Whether or not they are allowed usually depends on the tournament.
What are the other bat certifications?
Along with BBCOR and USSSA, other bat certifications include USA Baseball and NTS. USA Baseball has even more lenient standards than USSSA and is the bat certification used for Little League.
NTS is a new certification very similar to that of USSSA. As of right now, any bat that is stamped with both NTS and USSSA are eligible for USSSA play. As of November 1, 2021, only NTS stamped bats will be allowed.
Which bat is better? USSSA or USA Baseball?
USA baseball allows for a 1.2 BPF where USSSA allows for 1.15. This means that USA Baseball bats have slightly more pop, but not by much.
Are two-pieced bats allowed by BBCOR standards?
Yes, there are two-pieced BBCOR certified bats. When BBCOR first became the standard for high school and college baseball, many speculated that two-piece bats would not be allowed because they allow for too much of a trampoline effect.
However, many bat companies have found a way to make two-piece bats that also meet the BBCOR standards. Nothing in the BBCOR certification makes two-piece bats illegal as long as their BPF meets the necessary requirements.
What happens if a player uses an illegal bat during competition?
If a player uses an illegal bat during competition, the player is often ruled out, and the bat is to be taken out of the dugout. In some leagues, players and/or coaches can be ejected for using illegal bats. Oftentimes, umpires check bats before games to ensure that all are deemed legal.