Softball Bat Regulations

The Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) establishes guidelines regarding acceptable equipment in efforts to ensure fairness and safety among softball participants. As the national governing body of softball in the United States, the ASA’s equipment testing and specifications committee tests and certifies equipment each year. By utilizing this testing process, the ASA is better able to attribute a player’s performance to her skill rather than the model of her bat, enhancing the integrity of the game.

Background

Softball bat regulations were first adopted in 2000. Upon testing bats, a council of ASA commissioners, player representatives, umpires and elite athletes will pass these recommendations on to players participating in ASA championship games. Though these standards are expressly enforced for ASA championship play, many local leagues also adopt these standards.

Certification Mark

Two certification marks have been established by the ASA. Bats made after 2000 must bear the ASA 2000 certification mark to be considered approved. After Jan. 1, 2004, to be allowed in championship play, a bat must bear the 2004 certification mark. If a bat does not have a certification mark it must be listed on the approved bat list published by the ASA. Bats made prior to 2000 can be considered approved, at the discretion of an umpire, if the bat is deemed to meet the current standards. Bats adorned with the 2000 certification mark must pass the 2004 standards to be approved for championship play. A list of approved and nonapproved bats appears on the ASA website. These lists are consistently updated as new models are submitted to the testing committee.

Certification Program

As the official rules of softball can be changed yearly, so can the approved equipment, including bats. To become certified, a bat manufacturer must submit samples to be tested by the ASA committee at an approved testing facility. Upon meeting the standards of the ASA and the committee, a manufacturer can be offered a license agreement to apply the certification mark to its product. The ASA will periodically check up on approved bat models by purchasing them from various retailers and applying the testing process. Bats failing to meet the compliance standards will be retested through further samples obtained from the manufacturer. Failure to meet the standards a second time will result in a revoking of the certification mark.

Performance Standards

The ASA determines whether a bat is considered approved based on the batted ball speed (BBS). BBS is determined by how fast a ball leaves the bat, as seen by a fielder. According to the testing procedures developed in 2004, the BBS cannot exceed 98 mph. Bats made entirely of wood are not subject to the testing process and are not required to bear a certification mark in order to be approved for championship play. Bats made of any other materials, such as aluminum, titanium, or composite materials, are subject to the performance testing standards and procedures.

About this Author

Jaclyn Poliseo received a master’s degree from Purdue University in movement and sport sciences, specializing in sport and exercise psychology, in 2009. She has been writing throughout her academic career, co-authoring numerous posters and presentations for professional conferences. Her thesis is currently in preparation for publication in an academic journal.