NFHS bans composite aluminum bats - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

NFHS bans composite aluminum bats

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Posted: Monday, July 12, 2010 3:39 pm | Updated: 3:54 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

When Corona del Sol baseball coach David Webb was a player, he wondered if shoving tennis balls and racquetballs inside a bat would give it more pop.

Present-day players are still constantly looking for that edge, and the National Federation of State High School Associations has stepped in to stop a possible trend before it takes off.

The NFHS banned composite bats indefinitely on Wednesday after testing showed they exceed its performance standard. While many of these types of bats adhere to the regulations off the shelf, they get more productive with age.

"The problem is that a composite bat which is legal when brand new (meaning that it passes the performance standards) can significantly exceed those performance standards (hitting balls faster and farther) after it has been broken in," said Dr. Dan Russell, an associate professor of applied physics at Kettering (Mich.) University, in an e-mail.

Bats not only became better through regular use, but there are also techniques to expedite the process.

One is called "rolling," in which the bat is put in a machine to get broken in evenly. The procedure generally costs about $30 and is equivalent to hitting a ball 500 times. It loosens up the bat's fibers, increasing the trampoline effect.

The NCAA banned these bats last season after investigating their performance, and now the NFHS has followed suit.

Several area coaches said few of their players used the composite bats, and when they did, the performance compared similarly to an aluminum bat.

"We didn't have a bunch of kids saying 'I've got to use a composite bat,'" Desert Mountain coach Bryan Rice said. "The kids would know right away (if a bat had much more pop)."

According to coaches, the use of these bats has not become a problem in Arizona high school circles, but Webb agrees with the ban.

"I've just heard about them on the fringes'" Webb said. "The coaches aren't complaining about it, but if you are gaining some sort of advantage with them, I don't see why they should be allowed."

Composite bats are some of the more expensive bats on the market, selling for as much as $400. That could be a problem for a player who recently purchased one and now can't use it, although Mesquite coach Jeff Holland said the manufacturers will likely work with the players on an exchange.

None of the coaches talked to for this story thought the composite bats were a huge competitive advantage.

"It's not like a kid comes up with a composite bat and you pitch them differently," Rice said. "I don't think it affects the game that much. I think it's the kid that’s swinging the bat that's important."

Holland wishes he had any of the current bats when he was playing.

"I would have hit 40 homers," he said.

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