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Breaking in a Composite Bat: A Step-by-Step Guide

WriterKelsy Kim
6 min read
A pitcher, catcher, batter, and outfielder in uniform playing in a baseball game on a baseball diamond

Many baseball players favor composite bats for their power and durability. However, they require a careful break-in process to reach their full potential. Whether you're an experienced player or just stepping up to the plate, mastering the break-in process can take your game to new heights. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of breaking in composite bats and provide a step-by-step guide.

Key Takeaways

  • Why You Need to Break in Your Bat — Composite bats aren’t ready to use right out of the box. They are made of stiff materials that must be worn down to increase their flexibility, which results in more powerful hits.
  • How to Break in a Composite Bat: A Step-by-Step Guide — Breaking in a composite bat involves hitting regulation balls off a tee about 100 times, soft or front tosses about 100 times, and live pitches about 100 times. Players should slowly increase swing power as they progress and rotate their bats ¼ turn between every swing to ensure all sides are evenly broken in.
  • What to Avoid — When breaking in a composite bat, never swing the bat at an angle less than 70 degrees, use rubber or dimple balls, and rotate your bat if you miss-hit a ball.
  • Post-Break-in Care — To protect your bat, store it in a cool, dry place. You should also clean your bat regularly to avoid wear and tear caused by dirt or debris. If your bat’s performance has diminished, it may be time to break it in again.

Why You Need to Break in Your Bat

Baseball and softball bats, gloves, and backpacks from Rawlings brand lying against a chain link fence next to a dugout.

Unlike aluminum alloy bats, composite bats aren’t ready for use directly from the manufacturer. While manufacturers make sure all composite bats meet league rules and requirements, they don’t test them before selling them in stores, meaning they aren’t ready for gameplay.

A bat’s ability to flex upon contact with a ball is known as the trampoline effect. When not broken in, bats cannot fully harness the trampoline effect, resulting in less powerful hits. Composite bats are made of stiff, layered materials like carbon fiber that limit the trampoline effect and prevent them from reaching their full performance potential.

Think about breaking in a new pair of shoes — they must be worn to be comfortable and mold to the shape of your foot. Similarly, regular use of a composite bat increases its flexibility, allowing it to better absorb and transfer energy upon contact with the ball.

Breaking in your composite bat involves taking hundreds of hits to slowly wear down the composite materials and increase the bounce. This results in a bat that feels more comfortable to swing with more powerful, reliable, and consistent batting.

Will Breaking in a Composite Bat Decrease its Lifespan?

Although you have to use a composite bat to break it in, this process won’t decrease its lifespan; it actually increases its durability and longevity. Slowly wearing down the bat’s fibers helps the bat adapt and distribute stress more evenly, reducing the risk of sudden breakage.

Breaking in a bat also allows the composite materials to settle and align properly, which can improve the bat's structural integrity. As long as you use proper break-in techniques, the bat will only experience controlled stress that prevents premature damage and increases its lifespan.

 A close-up of a softball player carrying a bat and wearing a helmet and gloves.

How to Break in a Composite Bat: A Step-by-Step Guide

Breaking in a composite bat typically takes between 150 and 300 swings. Depending on your speed and stamina, you could complete this process within a couple of hours. The bat must be rotated ¼ turn between each swing to make sure every side of the bat is evenly broken in. This may seem like a lot of work, but the results are worth it.

While you should always reference the manufacturer’s break-in guidelines, you can break in most composite bats using the steps outlined below. Remember, the key to breaking in your bat is consistency; this helps your bat perform evenly regardless of which side makes contact with the ball.

 Three composite bats lined up horizontally on an outer space-themed background.

Step 1: Hit the Ball Off a Tee

Begin the break-in process by hitting regulation balls off a tee about 100 times. You should hit the first 50 balls using 50% of the power you normally would and hit the next 50 at 75% power. Rotate your bat ¼ of a turn between each swing. You can use the bat’s logo to help you track each turn.

Step 2: Hit Soft and Front Tosses

Next, have someone soft or front toss a regulation ball to you about 100 times. Hit the first 50 tosses with 75% power and the following 50 with 100% power. Be sure to continue rotating the bat ¼ of a turn between every swing.

Step 3: Hit Live Pitches

Lastly, have a pitcher or pitching machine pitch regulation balls to you about 50 times. The balls should be thrown at least 40 mph, and you should hit them with 100% power. Again, make sure you rotate the bat ¼ turn between swings. Once you’ve completed the break-in process, you’re ready for the batter’s box!

Temperature Considerations

Because of the materials composite bats are made of, temperature can impact how long it takes to break in your bat. These bats become more flexible with use, and colder temperatures can cause them to stiffen. This reduces the bat's responsiveness and could lead to a longer break-in period. Warmer temperatures, on the other hand, make the materials naturally more flexible, which could speed up the break-in process.

What to Avoid

As with any process, there are a few things you’ll want to avoid when breaking in your composite bat, such as hitting at the wrong angle, using the incorrect ball, rotating the bat at incorrect intervals, and overusing your gameplay bat.

  • Don’t swing a composite bat at an angle less than 70 degrees. This could break or dent your bat.
  • Never use rubber or dimple balls when breaking in a composite bat. They don’t have the same effect as regular baseballs and can damage your bat.
  • If you miss-hit a ball or hit a weak foul ball, don't rotate your bat, as that side has not been properly broken in.
  • Once you’ve broken in your composite bat, it should only be used for gameplay. Use a different bat for practice to keep your primary bat in good shape.

Post-Break-in Care

 Two young baseball players in uniform smiling and walking across the field carrying their baseball bats in backpacks.

To protect your hard work and extend the lifespan of your composite bat, store it in a cool, dry place with a consistent temperature. Try not to leave it in places that experience extreme temperatures, like car trunks or garages, because excessive heat or cold can damage the materials over time.

It’s also important to clean your bat regularly. Any dirt or debris left on the bat’s surface for an extended period of time can cause wear and tear and impact its performance. To clean your bat, wipe it down with a soft cloth. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage the bat’s surface.

If you start to notice that your bat isn’t performing as well as it used to, it might be time to consider breaking it in again. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines or the steps outlined above, and your bat will be hitting consistently in no time.

Have Fun Out There!

Gear up for success on the diamond with top-quality baseball and softball bats at Academy Sports + Outdoors! No matter your budget or skill level, we’ve got you covered for the whole season with recreational, USSSA, BBCOR bats, and more.