USSSA Fastpitch Softball Bat Rules
A new bat standards went into effect January 1, 2014. This means that a bat must display the stamp to the right for it to be legal for use. Recall that this requirement was announced in 2011 in order to give everyone ample time to conform to the new standards. Effective January 1, 2014 all bats used for USSSA Fastpitch softball play must:
- Have the new permanent1 USSSA Mark on its taper exactly as in the image to the right OR
- Be a Wood Bat
- ALL of the above must be manufactured by an approved USSSA Bat Licensee
USSSA marks and other graphics of the bat must be applied permanently and must be applied by the USSSA licensed manufacturer. No stickers or decals are allowed and no one may add graphics to a bat once manufactured. Use of a bat with graphics not applied by the manufacturer will be use of an altered bat and subject to suspension under the USSSA Altered Bat rules. In addition to being violation of the USSSA Altered Bat rules, any use, creation or application of a USSSA mark without written permission of USSSA is a violation of Federal Trademark law and may result in prosecution by USSSA. If you have any concern about the person selling or providing you a bat, do not accept the bat, because you will be held responsible for any bat you bring into or use in a USSSA facility.
Why a New Standard
Over the past several years the number of altered bats that have found their way into the youth fastpitch program has been increasing at an alarming rate. When a bat displays this new stamp it means that the bat has been manufactured in such a way that if it ever becomes altered in order to increase performance beyond the 1.20 BPF limit then it will show very dramatic visible damage (eg, cracking) to prove that it's been tampered with. In short, a bat with the new stamp is either unalterable or, if altered, it becomes unusable. Note that the attached document titled “Illegal Bat Penalty” describes the penalty for using an illegal bat. We encourage all USSSA directors, umpires, coaches, parents and players to take the necessary steps to avoid the use of an illegal bat prior to and during a game.
USSSA has implemented new rules for the testing of baseball and softball bats before a manufacturer can license a bat with USSSA. Current bats can improve with use, abuse, internal damage or by intentional altering and that improvement can exceed the BPF (Bat Performance Factor) limit for bats set by USSSA. Externally damaged bats even under current rules may be removed from play by umpires or directors. Bats that improve beyond the BPF limit cause a competitive imbalance in the game, can cause serious injury to participants and is unfair to those who have bats which comply with the USSSA BPF limit during the useful life of the bat.
Under the new rules a bat will no longer be licensed for USSSA play if it can ever improve in performance beyond the BPF limit (1.20 for softball and 1.15 for baseball) during its useful life. In addition, under the new rules manufacturers must demonstrate to USSSA that bats that are easily altered to mprove the BPF will show dramatic visible damage or otherwise become unusable. If the bat meets the new rules in lab testing, authorized USSSA manufacturers may add the new USSSA mark to the taper of the bat. Bats with the old USSSA mark are being phased out and for fastpitch the phase out period will last until January 1, 2014. Even if a bat with the new mark passes the tests in the lab, the bat model may still be removed from USSSA play if it proves to be one which exceeds the BPF limit during actual play without showing dramatic damage. January 1, 2014 there will no longer be a list of legal fast pitch bats, just rules which require the bats be made by an authorized USSSA manufacturer and have the new mark of the taper or be made of wood. There is no such illegal bat list at the current time. However, if a bat with the new mark is ultimately found to be illegal during play by the explanations stated above then USSSA will begin a list of such bats. For a more extensive review of the rationale behind these rule changes, please see http://www.usssa.com/usssa/usssa-general/AnnouncementRev82011.pdf
Penalty for Using an Illegal Bat
For the detailed penalty for the use of an illegal bat, Click Here.