It’s pretty obvious that you already know the importance of taping a baseball or softball bat. It allows you to personalize your bat to meet your needs.
This technique offers you a perfect grip which makes it easy to handle the bat and control the ball as you would wish. This is more common in wooden bats that come without a grip. Applying tape to a metallic tape minimizes sting since it absorbs most of the shock that results from kicking the ball.
You could also wrap a tape around your bat’s sweet spot (the midpoint of the barrel) to increase the bat’s life since it prevents cracking and peeling.
Again, unlike some years ago, taping baseball and softball bats is no longer nerve-racking. Today, the internet is chocking with different DIY techniques of bat taping, and almost anyone can breeze through the process now.
In that case, we won’t try to re-invent the wheel by adding onto what has already been said. This article, however, will be about an important aspect that we feel has been left out and that which might make the process of taping softball and baseball bats a bit more fulfilling and successful;
What things should you consider when taping softball and baseball bats?
Abide by the rules
While taping a softball or baseball bat helps in customizing it to meet your needs, do know that doing it the wrong way could easily get you as the batter called out of the game.
There has been a heated debate as to whether taping a baseball bat is illegal or not. Now, before answering this question, I think it would be imperative that we understand the difference between an illegal bat and an altered bat first.
Simply put, an illegal bat is any bat that has not been approved for SSUSA play. It need not be modified in any way. For instance, a standard baseball bat is deemed illegal provided it does not have SSUSA’s certification mark(s). The consequence here is that both the player and the bat are called out.
On the other hand, an altered bat may be any legal bat whose physical characteristics have been changed. This may be in the form of painting, weight change, and excessive taping (Note: Excessive taping).
This makes one thing clear; taping your bat is not illegal. However, an excessively taped bat is considered altered. Similar to an illegal bat, the penalty for an altered bat is that both the bat and the player are called out.
This leads us to our next consideration…
What is excessive taping in a bat?
Most players in several forums like the Senior Softball-USA have argued about what constitutes excessive taping of a bat. Some claim that it’s illegal to wrap more than one layer of tape on the bat while another lot strongly believes that it’s altered if it has more than 2 layers of tape.
Fortunately, rule G of SSUSA’s Rule Book makes everything clear. According to this rule, a taped bat only becomes altered if it has more than 2 layers wrapped around the handle grip. The rule continues to highlight that a bat shall have a knob with a minimum of 1/4’’ protruding at 900 from the handle.
This safety knob can either be permanently fastened, molded, welded or lathed. You could also add a flare/ Corn grip only if it is commercially manufactured.
Here’s the catch!
What most players do is to flare athletic tape into a cone that is pretty similar in size to the store bought cones that are approved by the SSUSA.
Now, as per the SSUSA rules, taping into a cone results to an altered bat and won’t be allowed in the league.
Again, although tapping the knob is permissible as long as you do not violate this rule, it’s a well-known fact that a tape cone grip requires over 2 layers of tape. This will definitely lead to an altered bat, and you won’t be allowed to use it.
Taping your bat’s hand grip is permissible. However, ensure that you don’t wrap more than 2 layers. Again, avoid taping into a cone in a way that would deem your bat altered. Rather, consider purchasing the store plastic or rubber cones that are allowed and equally comfortable.
Always tape a clean handle
One mistake that most players make is to apply tape to a bat with uneven surfaces. What happens when you tape a bat that has not been evened out properly is that the tape won’t adhere to the handle strongly enough.
As a result, the tape might require changing quite often. What this means is that you won’t have enough time to get used to your customized bat. Again, you’ll be spending more time taping the bat which might also be expensive.
To avoid these inconveniences, first remove the previous tapping by peeling most of it out (that is if there was one).
Next, always use a fine-grit sandpaper to scrub off any remaining residue on wooden bats. However, you need to ensure that you don’t remove a lot of wood.
If you are using an aluminum bat, the easiest way is to use a specialized solvent such as CleanUp Batter or Goo Gone.
Go with the rules of your league
While a bat’s comfort level is a personal preference, you need to ensure that you abide by your league’s rules regarding how high the tape should be. Some leagues require that you tape up to the 8-inch mark while others will allow you to go all the way to 12-inch. Whatever your league’s rule is, use a magic marker to mark where you would like your tape to reach and stick by it.
Choose your tape wisely
Now, not every other tape marketed as a good deal is worth checking out leave alone purchasing. A good tape should be comfortable to handle, all-weather approved and easy to apply. It should also have excellent vibration reduction and also feel great on your hands.
If you are not sure what brand to go for, I would highly recommend that you check out some models from Lizard Skin.
Although not so old in the industry, this brand has some of the best tapes on the market today. Other brands include Easton VRS, Rawlings, and All-Star Tiger Stick.
You might also want to check out what other players are using and what they have to say about a specific tape.
Wrapping It Up
Taping your softball or baseball bat is a great way of customizing it and ensuring that you get optimum comfort and durability. However, it really pays to understand these few tips to ensure that you are doing it correctly without violating your league’s rules or those of the governing body.