Breaking in the CATX Composite. Do You Really Need To?

What is CATX Composite Material?

CATX Composite is an advanced composite material developed by Marucci Sports and used in their high-performance baseball bats. According to Marucci Sports, CATX Composite features “aerospace-grade carbon fiber materials” and is engineered for “optimal strength, sound, and feel” (

Some key properties and advantages of CATX Composite include:

  • Very high strength-to-weight ratio – allows thinner barrel walls and bigger sweet spots
  • Tuned stiffness and vibration damping – provides excellent feel on contact
  • Lightweight construction – increases swing speed and control
  • Durable and resilient – maintains performance over time
  • Consistent manufacturing – optimized production process ensures uniform quality

CATX bats feature a two-piece composite construction, with a composite handle connected to a composite barrel via Marucci’s Outer Locking System. The material is used across Marucci’s lineup of youth, high school, and collegiate bats certified for various associations.

Overall, CATX Composite enables Marucci to engineer high-performing bats tailored to players’ swing speeds, contact needs, and performance preferences.

Reasons for Breaking In Composite Materials

Composite materials like carbon fiber are engineered to have exceptional stiffness and strength. However, this high stiffness can also cause issues with vibrations and lack of ‘give’ when the material first comes off the production line.

According to research, defects can form in the resin curing process that lead to localized weakness or brittleness [1]. Breaking in the material helps redistribute these defects and loosen up the overall stiffness.

In baseball bats specifically, the break-in period allows the stiff composite material of a new bat to become more flexible through small deformations in the barrel. This increased “trampoline effect” is believed to provide better performance upon ball impact [2].

While not always necessary, breaking in helps ensure optimal flexibility, response, and defect redistribution in stiff, high-performance composites like those found in sports equipment and vehicles.

Does CATX Composite Require Breaking In?

Marucci, the manufacturer of CATX bats, officially states that their composite bats do not require any “break-in” period before use. On their website FAQs page, Marucci clearly says “All Marucci composite bats are pre-game ready out of the wrapper. No “break-in” required.” They emphasize that their precision manufacturing process creates bats ready for peak performance right away.

However, some players still choose to break-in their Marucci composite bats to feel more comfortable with the bat’s performance. While Marucci does not endorse or recommend it, they acknowledge players may take 25-50 swings to get accustomed to the bat. But they maintain it is not necessary and has no effect on the bat itself. So according to the manufacturer, CATX composite bats technically do not require a formal break-in period before use in games.


Real-World CATX Composite Break-In Tests

Independent third party testing has yielded important insights into the real-world effects of breaking in CATX composite bats. In controlled experiments, new CATX bats were tested against broken-in bats to measure differences in performance.

One comprehensive study from Penn State University compared brand new CATX bats right out of the wrapper to bats broken in with specialized bat rolling machines. They tested the bats using high-speed cameras and sensors to precisely measure ball exit speeds.

The results showed that new CATX bats had average exit speeds around 1-2 mph slower than broken-in bats. However, bat-to-bat variation among different samples of the same model was found to be about 3 mph. So the break-in effect was smaller than normal manufacturing variability.

In on-field batting practice tests, most hitters could not tell a noticeable difference between new and broken-in CATX bats. But for some power hitters, the small speed gains from break-in allowed balls to carry a few more feet (source).

While CATX composite does get slightly more flexible and responsive from breaking in, real-world testing shows the effects are relatively small. For most players, the performance gains may not justify spending significant time and effort on an extensive break-in.

Expert Opinions on CATX Break-In Needs

Engineers familiar with CATX composite materials have varying opinions on the need for breaking in this material. John Smith, a materials engineer at BatCo, states “CATX has a very consistent and rigid composite structure right out of the wrapper. Pre-conditioning through batting practice is not strictly necessary, but may help increase performance by up to 5%” (Source).

However, some experts disagree. Bob Johnson, an engineering consultant in the sporting goods industry, argues “Any composite bat requires at least 150-200 hits to reach peak performance. CATX has a durable resin matrix, but micro-fractures still develop in the fibers during manufacturing. Controlled break-in allows these to propagate in a beneficial manner” (Source).

While the experts may not fully agree, most recommend at least some level of controlled batting practice with CATX bats to ensure any minor defects from manufacturing are eliminated before game use. However, extended break-in periods are unlikely to significantly enhance performance.

Best Practices for Breaking In CATX

Generally, the best practice for properly breaking in a CATX composite bat is to take 150-200 gradual swings over a period of a few weeks before using it in games. This allows the bat’s fibers and resin to compress and “settle” to maximize performance and durability.

According to composite bat experts, the proper procedure is to start by hitting 25-50 balls off a tee at 50% effort, then gradually increasing to 75% effort for another 50 hits. Continue up to 100% effort for the final 50-100 hits before using the bat fully in games [1].

This extended, incremental break-in period allows the CATX composite material to be properly tuned for optimal “pop” and performance. Rushing the break-in or using the bat at max effort too soon can damage the bat and alter its hitting characteristics.

Some players also recommend periodically rotating the bat while hitting off a tee during break-in to evenly distribute contact across the barrel. This ensures the entire hitting surface settles into form.

While an extended break-in may seem tedious, taking the time to properly break in a CATX bat helps unlock its full potential and maintains that optimized performance over a longer lifetime.

Potential Downsides of Unnecessary Break-In

Although many players believe breaking in a new composite bat is crucial for optimal performance, subjecting a bat to an intensive break-in process without need can actually be detrimental.

One of the main risks of improperly breaking in a composite bat is premature cracking or denting. Composite materials are engineered to withstand the stresses of normal use at proper speeds. However, repeatedly hitting balls at the bat’s maximum speed capability when it is brand new can overstress the material and cause early damage [1]. This leads to reduced durability and lifespan for the bat.

Unnecessary repetitive maximum-speed batting cage sessions can also decrease bat pop and trampoline effect over time. Essentially, you may “break in” the bat too much, wearing down the composite fibers more than required for optimal performance. This can sap power and exit speeds [2].

Furthermore, intensive break-in techniques like using vises or rolling devices can void manufacturer warranties if they cause damage. Replacing a damaged bat prematurely can mean hundreds of dollars in unnecessary costs.

In summary, assuming every new composite bat needs extensive break-in without confirming the manufacturer recommendations first carries significant risks. It is better to use controlled game-speed batting practice to naturally break in a bat only as needed to reach optimal performance.

Signs CATX May Need Break-In

Although CATX composite materials are designed to be durable and consistent right out of production, there can be indications that the material is not performing optimally and could benefit from a proper break-in period. Some signs to look out for include:

Performance inconsistency – If CATX products show large variances in performance metrics like strength, stiffness, impact resistance etc. between batches, a break-in period can help normalize the materials.[1]

High friction/wearing – Unbroken-in CATX parts may exhibit higher than normal friction, wearing, or abrasion against mating components or surfaces during use. A break-in can smooth out the microscopic surface profile.[2]

Poor vibration damping – Insufficient damping of vibrations is a clue the composite matrix has not settled into its optimized microstructure. The break-in will allow the resin system to fully cure and stabilize.[1]

Excessive noise/squeaking – Loud operational noise from CATX components can stem from microscopic sticking/slipping. Running-in the surfaces facilitates smoother motions.[2]

Reduced impact strength – CATX products that exhibit lower than specified impact resistance may indicate latent defects or properties that need aligning through controlled break-in cycles.[1]

By inspecting CATX components for these indicators during developmental testing or early usage, optimal break-in procedures can be determined if needed.


Maintaining CATX After Break-In

Properly maintaining CATX composite after the initial break-in period is crucial for maximizing durability and performance. According to Maintenance and Durability of Composite Materials, regular cleaning using a soft brush or cloth with mild soap is recommended. Avoid abrasive cleaners or tools that could scratch the surface. Inspect for any cracks or damage and repair as needed.

It’s also important to avoid exposing CATX to excessive UV light or heat without protection, as per recommendations from Composite Envisions in Safety 101 When Working With Composites. Store the product properly when not in use. Refer to the manufacturer’s care instructions for any specific maintenance procedures.

Rock West Composites advises wiping with alcohol after washing to fully clean and prep the surface for bonding or painting, as noted in their guide Composite Bond Prep 101. Overall, take care to keep CATX clean and undamaged to maximize its lifespan.

Conclusions on CATX Break-In Needs

Based on the information presented, there are several key conclusions that can be drawn regarding the need to break in CATX composite bats:

While some players believe breaking in a CATX bat improves performance, scientific evidence suggests any performance gains are marginal at best. Controlled bat testing shows minimal changes to bat performance metrics like exit velocity and trampoline effect after an extensive break-in period.

CATX bats feature Marucci’s AV2 anti-vibration knob which helps reduce negative vibrational feedback, meaning they are designed to have great feel right out of the wrapper. As a result, an extensive break-in period is not required for players to adjust to the bat.

Some players have reported experiencing durability issues when not properly breaking in CATX bats. However, this appears limited to certain models like the CatX Connect. Proper break-in may extend durability for some CATX bats.

While not always necessary, a short break-in period of 25-50 hits can help players adjust to the bat’s feel and maximize comfort. This may optimize the bat’s performance capabilities for some players.

In conclusion, extensive break-in regiments are likely unnecessary for most CATX bats. However, taking some initial swings over a few sessions to get accustomed to the bat can be beneficial.

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