BBCOR-Certified Bats MUST be Drop 3

When a player outgrows youth big barrel bats (-5 drop weight) and is ready for high school ball, it is important to understand what a BBCOR bat is – you will be using this for the next four years!

As of 2011 and until this day in 2020, the BBCOR standard (for non-wood bats) is a requirement in high school and college baseball. BBCOR certification is required by the NCAA before a given bat can be used in a competitive game.

In comparison to the older standard, the ball exit speed ratio (BESR), BBCOR certified bats are noticeably less powerful. This change was in part due to the immense power that BESR composite bats offered and the danger concerns for pitchers, particularly at the collegiate level.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about BBCOR baseball bats.

What is BBCOR?

The BBCOR standard for high school and college baseball went into effect in 2011. It is the current certification required by the NCAA for Testing Bat Performance, and the standards for all legal competitive high school and college non-wood bats.

“To initiate the certification process for all baseball bats that are constructed with materials other than one-piece solid wood, an interested bat manufacturer must send one of the NCAA Certification Centers written notice of its intent to request certification testing on specific models it deems appropriate for testing.”

May 21, 2009

The Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) measures the energy lost when a baseball bat connects with the ball – also seen as the bat’s “springiness”. A high number greats a greater “trampoline effect”, meaning the ball will jump off the bat at a faster rate and can travel further. A lower number = less pop and power.

Standards set mean BBCOR bats are capped at .5; meaning, no baseball bat can exceed this number in testing or it will not be certified.

The .5 number is only slightly higher than a wood bat and significantly less than the BSER bats.

The pop (or trampoline effect) of BBCOR bats is closer to MLB (ash and maple wood bat) standard than the previous standard (BESR). This gives high school and college players some benefit of using a metal bat, without the overly-bearing offense stats and high risk of pitcher injury.

TL;DR; BBCOR bats have less pop than BSER bats, but everyone has to use them.

Watch the Baseball Bat Bros tee off using a BSER bat in 2021:

What ‘Drop’ is a BBCOR Bat?

A BBCOR certified bat must be drop 3 (-3). This means that it is three inches longer than it is heavy (in ounces). The most common high school baseball bat is 33 inches, 30 ounces.

In comparison, youth baseball bats are drop -10, and -12, which are significantly lighter. Youth big barrel bats are -5 and the introductory drop weight to BBCOR.

High School and College baseball players must use drop 3 metal or wood bats.

BBCOR bat sizes:

  • 31″ 28 oz
  • 32″ 29 oz
  • 33″ 30 oz (most popular)
  • 34″ 31 oz

End Loaded vs. Balanced

While size and weights are the same, always consider weight distribution before you purchase a BBCOR baseball bat. Some bats are end-loaded, or heavier towards the end of the bat, and others are balanced.

End-loaded bats feel heavier. They are slower through the zone but can deliver more power. Balanced bats feel lighter, with an even weight distribution from bottom to top. Many contact hitters claim balanced bats are their go-to choice for more base hits, line drives in the gap, and on-base percentage.

Why Are BESR Bats Illegal?

BESR Bat Batted Ball Exit Speed Ratio Far Exceeds BBCOR Standard
BESR is a formula; the exit velocity of the baseball divided by the baseball velocity + bat velocity

BESR (ball exit speed ratio) is a formula; the exit velocity of the baseball divided by the baseball velocity + bat velocity

BESR bats, used prior to 2011, had much faster exit speed and overall power than BBCORs feature today. In the first year that these bats were measured, college baseball saw an +14% increase in runs scored, and a +38% increase in home runs hit.

This was seen as damaging to the nature of the game to many, giving batters the advantage over pitchers. Additionally, pitcher safety became a huge concern.

With BESR bats, the exit velocity of a 90 MPH fastball could exceed 108 MPH! Standing only 60 feet away, a screaming line drive off a BESR bat would be nearly impossible to react to. Every college pitcher faced significant risk, and many suffered significant injuries during the BESR bat era.

This led to BESR bats becoming illegal and brought in the BBCOR era – a new method and standard for baseball bats to reduce injury and improve the game. These standards limit potential injury and are closer to wood bats in terms of pop and power.

BBCOR Features

BBCOR bats have many distinct features. The “sweet spot” of BBCOR bats are approximately 2″ smaller (3″) than those of BESR (5″). This means you really need to square up the ball to hit a line drive.

Exit-velocity off of BBCOR (even composite bats) is also approximately 5% slower than BESR.

Put simply, this means fewer base hits, fewer line drives that find gaps, and fewer home runs. There’s no way around it.

BSER in Comparison

BESR standard bats, in comparison, were much more forgiving. Hitting the ball off the end of the bat would often result in seeing-eye singles and gapers. BBCOR bat materials require the ball to be squared up to make serious contact. Composite bats BESR were seriously scary as the limits on bat materials lifted over the years.

Using the new formula, factors that would produce an insane trampoline effect. A 400′ home run with a BESR bat would result in a 375′ fly out using the BBCOR Bats.

How to Choose the Right BBCOR Bat

There’s no choice anymore; if you are a college or high school baseball player, you must use a BBCOR bat – whether it is a wood, composite, or aluminum model.

So that begs the question: How do you choose the best one? Especially in the 2020 age of social distancing, closed department stores, and less batting cage sessions. You may never again touch a baseball bat before buying it.

Further, we expect sanitary restrictions as High School sports programs return from COVID-19. Will team-shared equipment be limited? If each player needs his or her own baseball bat, for example, we want to support those new bat buyers.

At BatSmash, we are dedicated to providing simple, yet information-packed baseball bat reviews in an age of 100% digital purchasing. A bat purchase is a big decision! Consider as many factors as you possibly can, and remember to consider your batting style (a BatSmash favorite tip).

There are many factors to consider when looking to purchase a BBCOR bat. We invite you to read our in-depth article to help you choose the best BBCOR bat to have an awesome season.