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USSSA Baseball and USA Baseball are two different organizations that certify baseball bats for use in youth and amateur play. Each organization lays out specific requirements that a bat must meet before it can be certified for in-game use.
It is very important to know which type of baseball bat you need and how to tell the difference between the different types. Therefore, you might be wondering just what the difference is between bats that follow USSSA standards and those that follow USA standards.
The main difference between USSSA bats and USA bats is how they are designed. USA bats are designed to perform like wood bats even though they are not made of wood, while USSSA bats are designed to follow a standard set by a physicist that provides a higher performance level.
USSSA certified bats can hit the ball harder and faster than USA certified bats. Research shows that, on average, a typical USSSA bat may be able to hit a ball five to ten percent farther than a typical USA bat.
However, while USSSA bats can hit the ball farther, USA bats are typically considered easier to swing. USA bats are lighter, and therefore not so challenging to use, so these bats are often recommended for younger or less experienced players. While USSSA bats offer more power potential, a batter might hit for a higher batting average using a USA bat.
Another significant difference between the two types of bats is the leagues in which they are used. Different leagues have different rules about which bats to use, but in general USA certified bats are favored in most youth leagues, while USSSA certified bats are the bat of choice in travel baseball and tournament play.
What Is USA Baseball?
USA Baseball is the national governing body for amateur baseball in the United States. The organization has been around since 1978, and it represents the sport of baseball on the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. USA Baseball also represents the United States on the World Baseball Softball Confederation, the body that governs the World Baseball Classic.
According to the USA Baseball website, “nearly every major national amateur baseball organization in America is united as a USA Baseball national member organization.” This means that USA Baseball oversees more than 15 million amateur players at any given time.
USA Baseball’s mandate is to promote and develop the game of baseball “on the grassroots level, both nationally and internationally.”
What Is USSSA Baseball?
USSSA stands for United States Specialty Sports Association, and USSSA Baseball is the baseball branch of this association. The USSSA is a smaller organization than USA Baseball, but the USSSA still oversees many youth baseball leagues across the country.
According to the USSSA Baseball website, the organization’s main priority is “the development of programs that allow teams of all skill levels to compete against one another.” USSSA Baseball oversees travel baseball and tournaments for youth of various skill levels, classified as the A, AA, AAA, and Major divisions.
USSSA Baseball proudly advertises that hundreds of major league baseball players grew up playing on USSSA teams.
How Are USA Certified Bats Designed?
Although nearly all amateur players in the United States use metal baseball bats, bats that are certified by USA Baseball are designed to feel and function more like wooden bats.
Historically, all baseball bats were made out of wood, and Major League Baseball still uses wooden bats. Therefore, USA Baseball believes that it is good for the integrity of baseball around the country if all baseball bats adhere to a wood-like standard.
USA Baseball prefers to use metal or composite bats that perform like wood bats, rather than simply using wooden bats themselves, because wood is a more limited resource and because bats made of other materials are more durable and can often be lighter in weight too.
The barrel of a USA certified baseball bat will be no more than 2 ⅝ inches in diameter, but it may be significantly smaller. In addition, USA certified bats do not have a drop weight restriction.
How Are USSSA Certified Bats Designed?
Official USSSA bats must have a Bat Performance Factor (BPF) value of 1.15. However, the USSSA also approves of BBCOR certified bats, which have a 0.50 BPF. BPF is a measure of how quickly a ball will come off the bat. It refers to how much faster a ball would rebound off of a baseball bat as compared to a solid wall.
According to USSSA baseball rules, the barrel of a bat cannot be any more than 2 ¾ inches in diameter. This means that USSSA bats can have a slightly wider barrel than USA bats.
USSSA Baseball is stricter than USA Baseball when it comes to drop weight; USSSA certified bats must have a drop weight of -10, -8, or -5. However, BBCOR certified bats – which are also approved by USSSA Baseball – must have a drop weight of -3.
USSSA Baseball also approves of wood bats.
How Does A Bat Get USA Certified
In order to obtain certification from USA Baseball, a bat must go through a rigorous testing process. Performance testing for USA bats is done at the Washington State University (WSU) Sports Science Lab. This procedure of testing will ensure that a bat meets the wood-like standard required by USA Baseball.
Once a bat passes the testing protocol, it is then eligible for certification. If USA Baseball approves of the final design and physical appearance of the bat, the bat manufacturer is able to market the bat using the official USA Baseball mark.
How Does A Bat Get USSSA Certified
In order to be eligible for use in USSSA play, bats must meet the size and shape requirements of USSSA baseball and must be produced by certified USSSA bat manufacturers. As long as the bat meets these conditions, it is approved for USSSA play.
However, certain bats may be listed on the Withdrawn/Non-Compliant Bats List, which can be found on the USSSA website. These bats are not to be used in USSSA play.
What Leagues Use USA Certified Baseball Bats?
USA bats are recommended for use by players aged 8 to 14. According to the USA Baseball website, the following amateur baseball organizations have adopted the USA Baseball standards for their bats:
- Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball
- Dixie Youth Baseball
- Dixie Boys Baseball
- Little League Baseball
- PONY Baseball
- Dizzy Dean Baseball
A comprehensive list of the leagues and divisions that use the USA bat standards can be found on the USA Baseball website.
What Leagues Use USSSA Certified Baseball Bats?
USSSA certified baseball bats are commonly used in travel baseball and tournament play. Prominent travel tournaments that use USSSA bats include:
- The Elite World Series
- The USSSA World Series
- The Global Sports World Series
- The All American Games
Can a Baseball Bat Become Decertified by USA Baseball or USSSA Baseball?
A USA certified baseball bat can become decertified if the testing process determines the bat does not, in fact, meet USA Baseball’s standards. If a bat is decertified, it is no longer eligible for use in leagues that follow the USA Baseball bat standards. Upon decertification, USA Baseball will make an announcement and the company that manufactured the bat may be required to provide customers with some form of compensation.
A bat may be decertified if USA Baseball determines that the product being manufactured is not identical to the product that was submitted to the Washington State University (WSU) Sports Science Lab for testing. USA Baseball may test bats at any time, even if the bats are already being sold and used in USA Baseball play.
Because USSSA bats are not tested in the same manner as USA bats, there is no official decertification process for USSSA-approved bats. However, the USSSA may add a bat to the Withdrawn/Non-Compliant Bats List at any time.
What Are BBCOR Bats?
BBCOR is another standard of certification for baseball bats, specifically those used by adult players at the high school and collegiate level. BBCOR stands for Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution. This refers to the amount of energy lost when a ball makes contact with the bat.
BBCOR bats are specifically designed to reduce what is called the “trampoline effect,” which refers to the high speeds at which a ball can bounce back off of an aluminum bat. By reducing the trampoline effect, the BBCOR standards make it so aluminum bats are safer to use and more like the wooden bats used in MLB.
BBCOR was created by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in order to approve bats for use in college baseball play. All BBCOR certified bats have a barrel 2 ⅝ inches in diameter and a drop weight of -3.
What Are the Rules For Major League Baseball Bats?
Unlike amateur bats, Major League Baseball bats are constructed from a single piece of wood, and they are not held to such specific standards.
The official rules that govern Major League Baseball bats are laid out by MLB itself. These rules state that the barrel of a bat, at its thickest part, can be no more than 2.61 inches in diameter, and the bat itself can be no more than 42 inches long.
The MLB rules also regulate the size and shape of the indentation that may be added on top of a baseball bat. This indentation may be no wider than 2 inches, no deeper than 1 ¼ inches, and no less than 1 inch in diameter.