BBCOR bats are generally used for playing baseball at the high school and collegiate levels and — in terms of performance — are outmatched by USSSA bats. Ironically, USSSA bats perform better than BBCOR using the very bat standards from which “BBCOR” gets its name.
Shopping for a baseball bat, especially for youth leagues and play, is like a hallowed right of passage; but there’s more that goes into it than a shiny new baseball bat. Picking the right bat boils down to the level of play.
USSSA is the governing body behind travel league baseball and tournament-level play. BBCOR is a measuring standard that stands for “Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution.”
What Does Batted Ball Coefficient Of Restitution Mean?
We know that USSSA bats outperform BBCOR bats, but what exactly are the forces — insofar as physics are concerned — that make a USSSA bat better? For one, the BBCOR standard only applies when playing at a high school and collegiate level.
So, as far as youth players are concerned, their travel teams and tournament players are not encumbered by the more stringent restrictions applied to every BBCOR bat.
BBCOR is a measurement of energy loss when a pitched ball meets a balanced swing. It’s also termed “the Trampoline Effect”, and composite BBCOR bats are said to have the best trampoline effect.
The idea being that baseball bats in high school play and college baseball play should mimic the wooden bats of professional ball to the closest degree possible, in everything from swing speed to drop to energy loss.
The old measurement method, BESR, was considered a safety concern and was unceremoniously ditched in 2011 for the BBCOR certification method, which helped lower the baseball’s energy when coming off of the bat by 5%.
That’s why USSSA is better in terms of bat performance. BBCOR certified bats are also not allowed to exceed 36” in length, a 2 ⅝” diameter barrel, and the bat’s “drop” cannot exceed 3.
The barrel restrictions prevent players from using big barrel bats to gain an unfair advantage.
A baseball bat’s drop is a ratio dealing with the size and weight of the bat. The drop is the difference between a bat’s length and weight: If a baseball bat is 32 inches in length and weighs 25 ounces, the drop is the difference, 32 minus 25, which is 7.
USA bat standards come into the picture here when discussing the drop rule. USA baseball bats have the same collision speed restrictions as BBCOR bats, but they do not have the drop weight restriction.
A USA baseball bat allows easier, light swinging younger players. Often, mixing USA and BBCOR baseball bats in game play is acceptable, but the league should be consulted for confirmation that the player is not using an illegal bat.
USA aluminum bats have been developed to mimic the trampoline effect of a wood bat, in order to preserve the integrity of the game. Two-piece bats can also be held to the USA standard.
What Started BBCOR And Does It Apply To USSSA?
Prior to 2011, the BESR method was applied to baseball bats and resulted in bats with a higher bat performance factor. Unfortunately, that meant player safety was decreased, especially that of the pitcher and crowds directly behind the foul ball line.
A change was needed in the bat standards for those who were no longer in the youth baseball age group. That’s where BBCOR came in, reducing the level of reaction energy from a baseball that’s hit with a bat.
BBCOR measures the collision speed of bats, not allowing them anything more than .5 that of a solid wall. Anything below .5 is acceptable.
USSSA bat standards allow a collision speed of 1.15, and bat companies include that number in the USSSA stamp on all USSSA bats. USSSA baseball bat collision speed is measured using the BBCOR method, so in a way BBCOR does indeed apply to USSSA baseball bats.
On BBCOR baseball bats, you will find a stamp somewhere along the barrel that states, “BBCOR Certified .50”. On USSSA bats, you’ll typically see the number “1.15” stamped along the barrel.
Even though USSSA bat performance is measured by BBCOR, the other BBCOR bat standards don’t really apply. USSSA bats can have different barrel sizes and can sometimes be below or above the length requirements since the BBCOR drop limit doesn’t apply to USSSA.
The performance differences of BBCOR vs. USSSA bats exist but are not exponentially vast. The difference in swing weight and performance would be more noticeable for a power hitter than just a typical batter.
Why Do USSSA Bats Have Lower Standards Than BBCOR?
For the most part, you’re dealing with younger players who haven’t yet developed their skills to the level of high school baseball or collegiate baseball.
Since they’re younger, they’re also generally not as strong. When the new .5 standard of BBCOR bat measurements was introduced at the college level, the number of home runs decreased dramatically.
While the BBCOR measurement applies to every USSSA baseball bat, they’re simply not as stringent because of the aforementioned difference in experience, strength, and fundamentals.
That’s not to say that future changes won’t happen, especially if youth leagues start dramatically increasing their home run ratios every baseball season.
Can BBCOR Be Used In USSSA Play?
Yes, it can and, in fact, it often happens because players entering the appropriate age tournaments are often high schoolers who already own BBCOR bats due to high schools incorporating the regulations following 2011.
They aren’t always allowed, however, with the age groups of 13u and 14u allowed to use them far more often than the other age groups. NTS (National Technical Systems) however, is a new testing method that is allowed in USSSA.
There’s a good chance that you can go to a USSSA tournament or a game with a travel team and spot stamps for BBCOR, USSSA, and NTS all on the same day, because all are acceptable travel baseball bats for different age groups.
BBCOR bats are even legal with some Little League teams, primarily Senior League, Junior League, and Intermediate. So the BBCOR bat standard is apparently being applied as far and as wide as possible, even in leagues where the performance reduction is probably negligible at best.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do USSSA bats have more “pop” than BBCOR bats?
In general, a USSSA bat compared to a BBCOR bat will have more pop. This comes from the higher percentage of energy off of the USSSA baseball bat.
Are USSSA bats legal in high school?
Not any longer. After the 2011 season — in which college baseball adopted BBCOR — high school baseball play adopted it as well, relegating USSSA bats to younger leagues.
What do USSSA and BBCOR stand for?
USSSA stands for United States Specialty Sports Association and BBCOR stands for Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution.
Are USSSA bats BBCOR?
Not technically, because each has its own stamp and official standards. However, the BBCOR measurement process is used with USSSA bats.