Sneak peak at what’s to come!

I find it funny how the older I get the more I look forward to getting to go to class’s. Last week me and Nolan had an awesome opportunity to go to Seattle for a two day video editing class. Neither of us have had any sort of “real” training when it comes to video editing but with the footage we’ve taken so far this year we thought it was time to take the next step.

I think it’s safe to say that step we both took was about the equivalent of a baby learning to walk for the first time. We both learned a tremendous amount and had a great time doing it. Now you’re probably asking – “what’s this have to do with us?” The answer to that is: we will be bringing you game footage of players on team viper and updating product descriptions to show video. You’ve seen a few of our “rookie” videos posted in the last few weeks but the new videos should hopefully blow those away.

Here is a sneak peak of more of what’s to come!

Over the course of the summer we have accumulated quite a few new players on Team Viper. In this blog I’m going to break down players currently swinging our stuff and what model of bat they’re using.

Corey Simpson – OF – Everett AquaSox

Corey Simpson Swinging Viper Bats

Corey Simpson of the Everett AquaSox swinging his Elite Series Maple I13L

Corey is currently swinging the Elite Series Maple I13L in 34″ and 32 oz. The I13L is a modified Louisville I13 for today’s minor league player. It doesn’t have the extreme barrel diameter of the original but with the smaller barrel it has a slightly longer sweet spot for more consistent power numbers.

This model came about because of the density regulations on maple bats in an effort to make maple safer to swing (which it does). What this regulation means is that players coming into the league can’t get the old school max barrel I13, 243, and 174G’s in maple. This is because it would require such a light piece of wood (less dense) combined with the extreme measurements would lead bats to breaking in an un-safe manner (multi-piece fracture).

With that in mind we modified the barrel enough so we could still maintain the key points of the original: large barrel, big sweet spot, power hitter style bat. These modifications resulted in a barrel that’s still over 2.5″ with an extended sweet spot that still flies through the zone coming in at a -2 weight ratio.

Viper Bats Elite Series Maple I13L

Viper Bats Elite Series Maple I13L

Some people will think “oh I like that but I swing a -3″ so let me stress this now: if you need to get this model in a -3 this isn’t the model for you. This model was made specifically with the density limits in mind which includes the weight ratio of the bat so while we offer it on our website in a -3 it would be borderline legal for a professional player to use and for the amateur it would simply be a very fragile rocket launcher. Not to mention I don’t know too many power hitters WANTING a -3, it defeats the purpose of the model.

This clip was taken a few weeks ago in his first live at bat with his I13L. Corey joined the AquaSox part way through the season so we didn’t get a chance to get him some quality lumber in his hands until later into year but watch and see what a sweet swing and solid bat sound like.



Looking for Photography Advice

It’s that time of year where I get to spend my weekends visiting the new draftees and pro players of the Northwest League. ( This also means I’ll be on photo duty and if anyone out there has some advice on how to take better shots – lighting, settings, what to look for etc, I’d love to hear it.

My photography knowledge is pretty limited but the camera I’ll be using is a Canon Rebel DSLR. Typically I find myself just using the auto settings so any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance and look for pictures coming soon!

Spring Means Softball

After months of anticipation, it’s time to get back outside (and back into shape) for spring sports season. While spring may be synonymous with the beginning of baseball season for major leagues, many of us live out our dreams of scoring on a baseball diamond by playing in local softball leagues. Whether you choose to play fast pitch or slow pitch, the muscles and technique used in both are very similar. That said, the game strategy, pitching styles, and equipment are very different.

Much of the hitting power in softball comes from owning the right bat. Viper Bats can help you choose the right bat for you, whether you’re interested in a wood softball bat, maple softball bat, or bamboo softball bat or a custom wood softball bat made specifically to fit your preferences. Getting your bat speed up will amplify the power behind your hits, and help you drive the ball higher and further. No matter what level you play at a quick swing is very important, but it’s absolutely essential in men’s slow pitch softball.
To further improve your hitting power, you can work on building a strong core and powerful leg muscles. A powerful core and quick hands can be developed through a variety of exercises. It’s going to take more than just lifting weights – you’ll need to incorporate smart nutrition, cardio, and endurance conditioning into your routine. When you do your weight training, try to incorporate elements of softball into your practice- strong hitting requires flexibility as well as brute strength. Make sure to tone the front, back, and sides of your core muscles as you work, your oblique muscles are especially important to include in training. Combining resistance with your cardio will help prevent the decline of your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which hold the key to explosive bursts of power.

Fielding is often underappreciated in the game of men’s slow pitch, but as in any team sport a strong defense is crucial. Work on your quickness and response time- try to “stop” the ball rather than catch it. Everyone struggles when fielding ground balls, but working on your form can help correct those simple (and frustrating) mistakes. Use your knees, not your waist, to reach the ground. Field the bottom of the ball, and keep your glove in a position so that you can see both it and the ball in your frame of vision. Continue to improve your quickness and agility as well, and your defensive skills will thank you.

Refining your practice with a wood softball bat is smarter than using a metal one. Wood is less forgiving, and will give you feedback when you need to improve. Wood softball bats are made out of different types of wood, and each will feel different when you test it out. Viper bats are all ASA approved and crafted to meet ASA wood bat regulations.

While your league may just be warming up, in the meantime you can watch women’s softball on TV with DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket as their college season concludes for the year. The NCAA has announced the 2014 Women’s World Series location as Oklahoma City, OK and fans can look forward to a variety of activities at the event in addition to exciting game action.

Spring training means different things for everyone, but practice smart and you’re sure to notice improvement come game time!

This article was written by Beth Kelly who is a freelance blogger who writes about everything from softball to the science of space travel. She lives and works in Chicago, IL. You can follow her on twitter at


Throwback Thursday

One of the (few) joys of cleaning the office is you always find something cool! While cleaning the other day I ran across some old backup CD’s of the Viper Site. For those that don’t know, I’ve made all the Viper Sites since the beginning so it was quite a trip down memory lane to see how much has changed in 10 years.

The Wrong Questions to Ask

It’s not uncommon for parents and players alike to call me asking for recommendations on what to buy and what bat is the best, and I’m happy to field questions of all types. With that said, here are the questions I get asked the most and why they can be misleading when it comes to picking out the right bat.

Bat 101 with Me and Patrick Kivlehan

Bat 101 with Me and Patrick Kivlehan

Question 1. – What’s the weight of the bat?

Especially in the case of adult bats, I often get asked if the bat is a -3. The reason why this question isn’t that important is because how a bat swings is what’s important. I can give you a +0 balanced bat that swings like it’s a -3 and alternatively I can give you a -3 that swings like a +0. Instead of concerning yourself with overall weight you’ll be better off trying to figure out the right model that compliments your swing. Also, the heavier the bat the denser it will be and the more distance you will see. The bat will also last longer the heavier it is.

Question 2 – What wood has the most pop?

There might be a study done in a vacuum where they tested what wood has the most pop but we don’t play in a vacuum. There are too many variables at hand from the player swinging it, to the model, to the pitches you’re seeing. Overall, you’re not going to see much difference in distance amongst the woods but the one thing to be aware of is the durability. Maple and Birch are going to be the more dense woods so they’re going to be more durable and harder to break. Ash is a porous wood and has a different grain structure which makes it weaker. A better route to go than worrying about what bat is going to give you the most distance is trying to figure out what wood is going to give you the most bang for your buck and that’s going to be birch, maple and bamboo. Ash is a great wood and some players swear by it, and I’m not saying they’re wrong, but they understand that ash bats aren’t going to be as durable which isn’t common knowledge amongst many players.

Question 3 – What’s the biggest barrel you have?

I did a separate blog post on big barrels here: but I’ll try to add on to this. I often get dads calling trying to find bats for their sons transitioning from little league to the bigger barrels and the first they want is a wood bat with a 2 5/8” barrel. Or I get the ex-high school stud playing amateur ball for the first time with his buddies wanting the biggest we have to offer and I’m just left shaking my head. We have, I believe, 1 model that has a barrel diameter that big and I rarely recommend it. The biggest problem with a big barrel that players, coaches and dads alike don’t understand is that in a wood bat all of the weight is going to be where the mass of the bat is. If we make a 2 5/8” barrel bat whether it’s a 31” or 34” it’s going to be extremely end heavy and hard to get around. Out of the hundred or so professional players we talked to over the last month about models, not one requested a bat with a barrel larger than 2.55”.

Spring Training – Mariners Experience

Sorry for the late post it’s been a hectic few weeks here at Viper land! I got back from springing training about two weeks ago and wanted to share some stories!

The first team we got to see was the hometown Seattle Mariners. The facility upgrade they got was really nice, minus the fact that the layout changed from the year before and I didn’t know where I was going! When we visit teams we get there around 7am as that’s when the players get there and get going for the day. It’s also not uncommon for the players to be stretching and working out next to where we’re set up. This year as we were setting up I happen to see Robinson Cano doing some hurdles so I tap Jordan on the shoulder and say “Hey that’s Cano”. We both turn our heads and look, and as soon as we do he trips on the hurdle. I start laughing. Apparently I laughed loud enough that he could hear me because he looks over at me and yells, “IT’S HARDER THAN IT LOOKS!” and that was my first experience with Mr. Cano. Good times.

Montero's Bat

Montero’s Bat

Shortly thereafter, some players started coming out and I ran into Jesus Montero. When he originally came to Seattle two years ago we made him some samples to try and never really got feedback from him.  I bring this story up because walking next to him I noticed our Viper end sticker on the only bat in his bag… so I quickly stopped him and inquired. He smiles and pulls it out and shows me. It’s a 35” maple JM1 from two years ago that we made as a sample and it was still in one piece in his bp bag. I was stunned and couldn’t do anything but shake my head and say “you’re bad for business.” He laughed and said he liked it and he’ll talk to his agent. I still can’t believe he had a bat that has lasted him two years!

Where we were set up is right next to a practice bullpen and a pitcher walked by and started talking to us. Turns out he was new to the Mariners this year and had a meeting and “thought” this was the right place. While waiting for his meeting we had a pretty awesome conversation, the guy couldn’t have been nicer. I know the first few times at spring training I was pretty star struck seeing some guys but I learned the best thing to do is to act is if they’re just a normal person and it goes a long ways. So we talked about anything from going on go-carts that go 50mph to veteran leadership in the clubhouse until his pitching coach finally came… he was pretty relieved he was in the right spot!

Logan Morrison's BP Bag

Logan Morrison’s BP Bag

After the players got done with their morning workout they started practices so we went and watched some BP. It’s a really awesome experience getting to be on the side of the fence – with the players – and getting to interact with them. We got to watch the infielders take BP so we got to see Kyle Seager and Logan Morrison use their Vipers in live BP.  Between rounds they’d both come over and give us the head nod of approval, always a good feeling! After BP they wrapped up practice and both Logan and Kyle walked with us to the clubhouse where we ran into the minor leaguers for minicamp.

Picture with Kyle Seager

Picture with Kyle Seager

It’s always fun seeing the minor league guys for the Mariners because we get to see most of them start in Everett, then again as they get promoted. We also got to see a local player who just got picked up by the Mariners so it was nice to give him some support. After their cage session ended our day at the Mariners was complete and we were off to the Padres next door!


Bigger Isn’t Always Better

I always have to shake my head when I see orders come through the system for a 31” 243 or when I get a call from a player or parent wanting to know what model has the biggest barrel. Truth be told, especially people new to wood bats, bigger barrel bats usually aren’t the best option and will result in flaws in your swing.

Viper Bats Man Sized Bat!

Viper Bats Man Sized Bat!

The age group most guilty of this are the players just switching over from aluminum to wood bats for the first time. Besides being adamant about wanting a bat that is “-3” they also want something that is as big as their metal bat they’re used to swinging.  The problem with this is metals bats are designed specifically to be balanced while fitting in the BBCOR regulations. Basically, in a metal bat with technology the way it is, you can have a very balanced bat with a large barrel and ideal weight. That’s not an option with wood bats.

In a wood bat you’re going to get all the weight of the bat where the mass of it is so if you get a bat with an oversized barrel it’s going to be extremely end heavy, or end-loaded.  Yes, if you make solid contact with the ball you’ll get great pop, but the control and skill needed to make that contact is greatly increased. As a result of the imbalance, the barrel is really going to dip through the hitting zone if you don’t have enough strength. It’s also going to make it more difficult to catch up to faster pitching.

If you find yourself fouling off a lot of pitches you usually hit, it’s probably a good indicator the barrel is too big for you. Another good indicator that your barrel is too big is if you find yourself breaking a lot of bats. By nature, the big barrel bat is going to put a lot of extra tension on the handle during contact so if you make any contact what-so-ever on the end of the bat it’s going to result in a broken bat.

At the end of the day, unless you’re getting paid to play baseball, more often than not you’ll find more success at the plate with a more “balanced” bat. Even though the barrel on these models may not be as big as your model 243 or 174G, they all have respectable sized barrels that are more than capable of being used by power hitters. I’ll break down some of our more popular models below into 3 categories: contact, gap, and power.

Contact Hitters (Average Barrel): 271, 110, 175G, 280, 141, CUV26
Gap Hitters (Little bit bigger): 222, 271L, APV5, 318
Power Hitters (Large Barrel): 243, 174G, 73, CD61, JH9

Not that any of these models are bad, they just require a greater understanding of your swing and the type of hitter you are. People who get big barrel bats understand that they’re prone to breakage and accept that as a tradeoff for the bigger hitting surface. The other trade off with the big barrel bats is that you’re sacrificing your average for power numbers. Hopefully with this information you’ll be able to help find the right model for you to achieve your goals as a player and if you have any questions I’d be more than happy to help you answer them.

Preparing for Spring Training

The off season has been a quick one and I couldn’t be more excited for the season to start up again. After participating in the Arizona Fall League I returned home in November and immediately started working out and preparing for this upcoming season. I’ve been working on fine tuning all the aspects of game that will help me succeed at the next level. I have been training at New Jersey Sports Advantage where they have cages, weights, and a track so I can get everything I need done there. My off season has exactly 2 weeks left as I just found out a couple days ago that I was invited to the Seattle Mariner’s minor league mini camp which will start up on February 15th. I will be departing for Arizona on the 14th ( my girlfriend is not very happy about the date they chose to send us out there as that is valentines day). After thinking about it and trying different models I decided I will start off the season swinging the Viper JH5 model. I tried it out last year and I like the way it felt in my hand and the barrel it has. I’m hoping for good things this year and I will be reporting back once Spring Training gets under way.

Thank You

I’d like to point out I just received an email from “the boss” asking me where his blog is for today…

We’ve all heard the line ‘you don’t know what you have until it’s gone’, and that’s the reason for my post today. We all have things, and more importantly people, in our everyday lives we all take for granted and I wanted to dedicate this post to my dad (who happens to also be my boss) and simply say, thank you.

For those of you who don’t know the story of how Viper Bats got started I’ll give you the nutshell version to catch you up to speed. Growing up I was always good at sports but baseball was my favorite and just so happened to be the sport I thought I was the best at. Junior year in high school you start to realize that if you want to play at a higher level scouts care about how you hit with wood bats, not your rocket launcher known as a BESR metal bat. With this knowledge it got both me and my dad looking more into wood bats and wood bat leagues to play in. Being from the Pacific Northwest in tiny Skagit Valley we quickly realized there weren’t any wood bat leagues around so we did the next best thing and made our own, the Skagit Valley Vipers.

Once fall ball started a family friend who played independent ball suggested we get bats from one of the guys he played with. Originally we started purchasing team bats from him and as the season progressed one conversation lead to another. Next thing you know a semi pulls up with a lathe, few skids of wood and Viper Bats was born.  If you’ve ever seen the Cadillac commercial for great things being built in an American garage ( you can add Viper Bats to the list because that’s where it all started.

Skagit Valley Herald Article on Viper bats

Skagit Valley Herald Article on Viper bats

Aside from “claiming” I was in charge of product testing, my role in the business was building and maintaining the website. In hindsight, being interested in making webpages and being able to make them back in 2003 was a great combination but it was still a minor part in the grand scheme of things. The best part about maintaining the website was I could still do it from college while my dad put in the work so off to college I went. Not only did he have to learn the art of actually making a wood baseball bat (sidenote: don’t ever ask him to swing one), he also had to establish the business side of things. He didn’t have a guide book or fancy education on what it takes to make a successful business, he just had the drive and passion to make it happen.

Skip ahead 3 years, I come back home from college with no degree and really no profound career path to speak of. However, I did come back to a fully functioning company that had now become my father’s full time job. To this day I can still remember the look on people’s faces when he told them he made wooden baseball bats for a living. Seeing as my job was still the website I decided to enroll in some web design classes at the local community college and started working for the business. It started with running shipping packages to the postage store between class and baseball practice, and when baseball finally ended it progressed to printing out orders, sanding the occasional bat, and customer service.

Year by year we continued to grow to what we are today. From moving out of the garage to an actual shop, to hiring our first employee, to seeing our bats on TV in the hands of major league baseball players it’s been an amazing experience.  Looking back I don’t think I knew what to expect. Did I think at all that it would be my job in 10 years? I’m sure I thought it would be nice but I’m not sure how realistic it was but thanks to my dad he made it a reality. It’s remarkable to be a part of what he’s created from the ground up and to be fortunate to have a full-time job doing something I love and I owe that all to my dad.

Dear Dad,

I know it hasn’t always been the easiest having to navigate the lines between boss and dad but I just wanted to say how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. Without you I don’t know where I’d be today and I just wanted to say thank you everything you’ve taught and done for me.



PS. This still doesn’t give you a pass for stealing MY pens.