Rolled bats are composite softball bats compressed with a machine to loosen the fibers, while shaved bats have been cut down to size and then sanded to shape.

Both techniques improve your bat’s performance.

It’s easy to tell a shaved bat. If the bat weighs less than its official weight, it’s been shaved. Rolling doesn’t reduce weight. More professional players and some umpires, too, can tell the difference by the sound a bat makes when it hits a ball.

Telling whether a bat is shaved or rolled is undoubtedly not easy, but it’s also not impossible. Compression testing can tell if a bat has been rolled. You’re not likely to find a compression tester in most games. It’s an expensive device.

Sometimes, there’s residue on shaved bats and roller marks on rolled bats. These also make spotting rolled and shaved bats easier.

Group of baseball and softball bats.

Rolled vs. Shaved softball bats: What are the differences?

A rolled softball bat is one that a machine has straightened out. This is done to make the bat more consistent and remove any signs of defects or damage. Rolling a bat is called “straightening,” and it can be done in a few different ways. Some bats are flattened entirely, while others are only partially rolled.

There are some significant differences between rolled and shaved softball bats. The most obvious difference is that rolled bats have no defects, while shaved bats do not. They are also much more expensive than shaved ones due to their lack of imperfections and are made from high-quality materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum alloy.

The difference between a rolled and shaved bat is one of the most common questions in softball. In this section, we will explain the difference between a rolled and shaved bat, how to tell if your bat has been rolled or shaved and what you can do if you find out it has been rolled.

What is a shaved bat?

A shaved softball bat has been sanded to remove any material from around the edges of the barrel. Shaving is a much more advanced process than rolling, requiring an abrasive like sandpaper or steel wool.

This technique works well for players who want a lighter bat but still want some control over their performance at the plate.

What is a rolled bat?

A rolled softball bat is put into a compressor machine. The machine uses a break-in process to increase its performance. These rollers compress bats (composite ones only - wooden or aluminum bats will break) along the length.

What this does is loosen the fibers in the barrel to reach peak performance.

Players who use this technique tend to have more control when hitting balls off all parts of their bats and can also achieve better distance with their swings, but they may lose some off-center pop hits due to the loss of mass in their barrels.

Is bat rolling illegal in softball?

Bats are designed to be hit and rolled. In most cases, bat rolling and shaving are almost certainly legal. However, rules differ from game to game, and you should always check before you roll or shave your bat.

When determining the legality of rolling and shaving, it’s best to consider the intent.

Here are the rules that you should know:

  • “Materials inside the bat or treatments/devices used to alter the bat specifications and/or enhance performance are prohibited and render the bat illegal” - Article 2A/3, National Federation of High Schools
  • “No bat, in any level of Little League Baseball or Softball play, is permitted to be altered. This is of particular concern, especially when it is clearly done to enhance performance and violate bat standards.” - Little League

So, doesn’t it mean that bat rolling and shaving are illegal, and your bat will be disqualified before it hits a ball?

Not exactly.

  • Rolling a bat doesn’t necessarily “alter” the bat for performance. In some ways, it only accelerates the “breaking in” process - the amount of time it takes for a bat to reach peak performance after use naturally. This is used as a valid argument justifying rolling.
  • Bat rolling follows the general process of bat testing for approvals. As such, it shouldn’t be illegal.

Both sides are right. In one way, you can see how it gives an unfair advantage. On the other hand, you can also argue that it doesn’t alter the bat to enhance performance; it just speeds up the process of natural performance enhancement.

The best way is to tread cautiously, ask around, and check with your seniors. Also, see if your manufacturer voids the warranty if you roll their bats - this is the case with a few companies.