Thursday, 31 January 2013

What To Keep In Mind When Shopping For Last Year's Sports Equipment

ByMichael B Miller

When it comes to sports equipment you can save quite a bit of cash by buying models that came out last year, or sometimes even the year before that. Unless you absolutely have to have the latest fashion there are few arguments against saving 60 percent or even more on most types of gear. Depending on your sport or hobby however, there may be a few caveats to keep in mind.

In terms of sports equipment that needs to comply with changing rules from various associations, you must of course double check to make sure that the product you are buying is indeed still considered legal.

For example, in 2012 the USSSA put out some new rules for what bats are eligible both in baseball and softball, requiring a type of new marking on all new bats. New regulations like this can actually render old bat models more or less obsolete.

However, I have a feeling that this isn't what's nagging most in the backs of people's heads when it comes to choosing between last years models and the spanking new ones.

I mean, even all aesthetics and fashion aside, what about all the new amazing technical features and capabilities the manufacturer have come up with since last year?

Makers of sports gear usually do a good job in their marketing, and make us doubt if we will really get by with a version that isn't the absolutely latest one available. After all, the newest one promises entirely new levels of performance, durability and comfort.

As I am no more immune to this kind of marketing than the next guy, I have developed my own rule of thumb for this:

"If you worry about the price tag you are probably not at the level where the slight technical improvements over last year's version will actually make a difference."

Like all generalizations there are of course exceptions to this rule. But for most amateurs I find it holds true more often than not.

Take downhill skiing for example. The technical advancements for skis have, along with certain rule changes, really meant that some professional slalom skiers that excelled only a few years ago have no chance at finishing on the podium in this year's competitions (FIS World Cup). At least according to the commentators on the sports channel I watch, a handful of athletes get a lot more performance out of their gear - and end up at the top of the leaderboards as a result.

An amateur skier, who goes skiing maybe a few weeks every year at best, will probably not gain very much - if anything - from the absolutely latest technology in skis.

And in terms of baseball and softball bats, there's no substitute for good coaching, training harder and practicing more.

In terms of bat selection you will probably do fine with last year's model, or even one that came out several years ago. Provided that it is legal for play in your association, and that the appropriate size for you is still available.

Michael Miller is a self professed softball nut that has a website dedicated to everything softball, including softball bat reviews. In the blog section he will regularly post softball deals of the month, where he lists softball equipment he have found that is currently available for purchase at steep discounts.

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