TIPS FOR BUYING A BASEBALL BAT:
Many factors must be taken into consideration when choosing a baseball bat. Aluminum and wood composite bats are preferred to wooden bats because of their light weight and high strength. Lighter bats are recommended over heavier bats because the batter can react and swing faster; bat speed is what generates the most power.
COMFORT: A player must be able to comfortably grip the bat handle. Some handles are thicker and fingers should grip all the way around. Swinging a bat in a store is not how it will feel like when the player is at the plate. The most important thing is that a player can swing the bat without any strain. Borrow a teammate's bat to get a feel for a specific size. A quick check after selecting a bat is to have the player grip the bottom part of the handle with the fingers of one hand. Have them hold the bat directly in front of them and lift the bat 7-8 times using only their wrist. If they have to bend their arm to lift the bat then consider selecting a lighter bat.
LENGTH & WEIGHT: Baseball bats are measured by using an 'inches of length minus the weight in ounces' ratio. A 28 inch bat that weighs 21 ounces has a ratio difference of -7, and is referred to as a drop 7. Bats must not be more than -3. For OBA & WOBA (local play) a bat shall not be more than 2 5/8 inches in diameter at its widest part. Many sporting good stores have size charts that aid and suggest what length of bat to the size/weight of the player.
PLAYER SIZE: The height of a batter is an important factor when choosing a bat. Tall batters should use longer bats. Too often a young or shorter player will be given a long bat with the idea that they can reach the other side of the plate. Usually these long bats are too heavy to control let alone swing. It is not advised to provide a bat that is too heavy for a player with the intention that 'they will grow into it'. A player will develop bad habits in their swing, have difficulty hitting the ball and will become frustrated.
LEVEL OF PLAY: Aluminum bats may be used by Peewee (12 & 13yr) and below age divisions. These bats provide more of a 'pop' off of them when the ball makes contact. Bantam (14 & 15yr) and older age divisions currently use -3 or -5 wood or wood composite bats.
COST: Aluminum and wood composite bats are more durable and cost effective than wooden bats. Youth bats range from $40 to $300 or more. An expensive bat is not necessarily a better bat.
For a list of approved bats and bat regulations check out this link
TIPS FOR BUYING A BASEBALL GLOVE:
Buying a baseball glove is like buying a pair of shoes. Cost, size, fit and usage are all things to be considered. Ball gloves come in several shapes, sizes and webbing types each designed for the unique requirements based on the position of play.
COST: Gloves come in synthetic or real leather and prices will vary depending on the quality of material and workmanship. Decide if the purchase is meant for a hobby, recreation or as an investment tool for competitive play. Prices range from $15 for beginner gloves to over $200. A quality glove will cost more and last longer too. Younger players may quickly outgrow their glove, so consider a lesser quality glove for a beginner.
SIZE MATTERS: The most common mistake is buying a glove too big for a little player. The result is that young players have difficulty closing the glove and spend time trying to balance the oversized glove on their hand.
Gloves, like shoes, come in many sizes. The 'size' is a measured distance from the heel of the glove to the top of the glove on the ball receiving (palm) side. Typical youth gloves range from 9 - 11", although 8" are available. Some 8 and 9 year olds use 11" gloves; many teenage players fit into 12" gloves comfortably. It is important that the glove is a comfortable fit on the hand and that the hand can open and close the glove pocket.
If the player has difficulty putting their hand or fingers into the glove, or complains that it is tight, check to make sure that there are no obstructions inside before considering a different style/manufacturer or choosing a larger glove. In some cases the thumb strap is too tight and just needs loosening.
CATCHER MITT: This glove has the most padding of all the gloves and is more of a mitten than a glove. No other position uses this type of glove. This glove is heavily padded to take the impact of catching high speed pitches.
FIRST BASE GLOVE: This glove is similar to a catcher's mitt as it too has more padding than other gloves. It is a longer glove with a deeper pocket and is often referred to as a 'trapper'. The design of this glove enables a player to easily field the harder, stronger throws typically thrown to first base and to scoop up balls out of the dirt.
INFIELDER GLOVE: This glove is smaller with a shallow wide pocket making it easy to get the ball out of the glove for throwing. This type of glove is used by players at second base and shortstop for quick and easy retrieval of the ball, ideal for making double plays. Third basemen will most likely prefer a deeper pocket on the smaller glove to snag line drives. Large gloves are not used on the infield because it takes too long to transfer the ball to the throwing hand to make a quick play.
A pitcher's glove usually has closed webbing to conceal the sight of the ball. This way they can adjust the grip of the ball without the batter seeing what type of pitch will be thrown. Avoid white, grey or brightly coloured gloves as a pitcher's glove cannot be distracting.
OUTFIELDER GLOVE: This is a longer and larger glove to give the outfielder a greater chance of catching fly balls. Some prefer the open webbing in the pocket of the glove to allow the fielder to see and line up with the ball while shading the eyes from the sun.
'BREAKING IN' THE GLOVE: The best advice is to play a lot of catch. The more it is played with the quicker it will be broken in. It takes time to break in a leather glove and the work-in period shapes and moulds it to the hand. In the end the glove should be flexible and pliable while maintaining its shape. The type and quality of leather will dictate the length of break in period. Some wrap a strong elastic band around the outside of a glove, with a ball is in the pocket, to aid in forming a cradle shape.
Preconditioned gloves mould around a hand much quicker and are quite comfortable for a young player. However, these gloves will not last as long. Avoid large floppy gloves as they are difficult to shape.
STORAGE & GLOVE CARE: Preserving the shape and condition that the glove has been worked into will maintain the life of the glove for many years. Keep it clean and soft. A yearly treatment of leather or glove oil/foam will extend the usefulness of the glove. Periodically check the laces to make sure that they are tight and intact.
Ideally, put a ball into the pocket before storing it. Some will set the glove open over their batting helmet, store it palm side up on their dresser or even pop it over the bed post. When not in use keep it out of the sun and rain and avoid storage in damp places. Too often a ball glove is closed and rammed into an equipment bag and the life and usefulness of the glove begins to deteriorate.