Most of the time when comparing similar size and weight models the old line ” you get what you pay for” holds true. If you are looking to spend $50.00 then you will put your child at a disadvantage since you will not be getting the best weight drop, or the best alloy. Not to mention the fact that a composite bat is well out of your price range. But is it necessary to buy little Johnny the top of the line model? Will it significantly outperform the less expensive model? The answer to that question depends upon you child. If he is say 9 yrs old 55-65 pounds then the answer is no. The most important thing for a youngster is bat speed. Get the lightest bat you can find, typically a -13 drop, 28″, 29″ max length. For that you need to get above the $100 mark. Now say Johnny is 70-85 pounds at age 9, you might want to look into the composite bats. The weight drop will be -11 to -13. Odds are you’ll be looking at a -12. With the composite barrel you get a larger “sweet spot”. The ball will travel its maximum distance when hit on the “sweet spot”. Thus, having a larger sweet spot allows for a greater margin of error. This will allow you child to be off a little bit and still hit the ball as far or as hard as possible. Now if your little Johnny is not so “little” then the top of the line may be worth going the extra mile. If he’s a big strong kid for his age, he would benefit by going with the composite model and lessening the weight drop to a -11 or -10. He should still stay in the 28″ area. As he gets older and bigger, he would move up in length. Most 12 year olds swing a 30″ or 31″ bat, so natural progression would suggest a 28″ at age 9, 29″ at age 10, 30″ at age 11, and 31″ at age 12. Obviosly, you can move up or down in length and weight depending upon the physical characteristics of your child.
You’ve got it down to 2 0r 3 models. Which manufacturer should you go with? Say you are comparing models from Louisville Slugger, Easton, and Demarini. These are all highly reputable manufacturers. Is any one model better than the others? Not really, if you are comparing similarly constructed models in the same price range. The choice now has to be made by the child. If he likes one over the others, so be it. This is where the psychological aspect comes in. It may the color, the name, the fact that he knows someone who has the same bat. Whatever his reasoning at this point, it doesn’t really matter. If he has a personal preference go with it. I tell anyone who will listen, make sure you bring your son when you get a bat. If you pick it out and he strikes out, it’s your fault. If he grounded out to end the game, …. he would have gotten a hit with the bat he wanted. You’ll put yourself in a no win situation. That being said, you must get him to the point where the bats he is choosing from are right for him with regard to size and weight and right for your budget.