Equipment Necessary for Softball

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Did you know that there are two types of softball commonly played in the United States? This lesson will briefly explain the differences between the two types and the equipment necessary for each. Afterwards, there is a short quiz.

Softball 101

If you think softball is a softer version of baseball played mostly by women, think again. While the sport differs slightly from baseball, it has many of the same rules, strategies and equipment. Also, both men and women play softball. So what kind of equipment do they use?

A fast-pitch softball player
fast pitch softball

Introduction to Softball Equipment

'What is the difference between slow pitch and fast pitch softball?' Lena Barnes asked herself as she looked at a softball equipment website. Lena is a new math teacher at a small school. Her principal, Mr. Talmadge, convinced her to take on the role of softball coach. She protested at first. 'I've never even been to a softball game, so how am I supposed to be the coach?'

'I know you don't have any experience, but these girls won't be able to play at all if they don't have a coach. A coach that has played other sports is certainly better than no coach,' Mr. Talmadge reasoned with her.

Lena took the coaching job on, but with lots of reservations. She had actually played little league baseball for a year `as a child. But she still knew nothing about softball. Before she started looking up the rules of the game, she decided she better find out what basic equipment is necessary for the sport.

Softball Equipment - the Basics

So far, Lena had created the following list:

  • Balls
  • Bats
  • Gloves
  • Cleats
  • Batting Helmets
  • Batting Gloves
  • Catching Equipment

There are all kinds of other things that might also qualify as basic equipment, mostly related to the field. The bases, backstop, pitcher's mound and similar items are all taken care of by the school's groundskeepers.

Early in her research Lena found that there are actually two types of softball games: slow pitch and fast pitch. The major difference between these two types of softball is how the ball is pitched - either in a slow underhand arc for slow pitch or a quick underhand for fast. She decided to continue researching both, just so she would know the difference.

Balls

Fast pitch softballs are slightly smaller and heavier than the slow pitch balls: 11 inches and 6.5 ounces for fast pitch vs. 12 inches and 6 ounces for slow pitch. Both are larger and heavier than a baseball, which is 9 inches and 5 ounces.

Lena was surprised to find out that the standard color for competitive softballs is yellow, not white like the standard baseball. Softball uses yellow balls because they're more visible than white.

Bats

For both types of softball competitions the bats can be made of wood, metal or synthetic materials. Maximum specifications are six inches in diameter, 34 inches in length, 38 ounces in weight. However, Lena also finds out that each level of competition has its own bat specifications, so she'll have to check with the league to get more details on that. Lighter and smaller diameter bats are often used because they weigh less and allow for faster swings, which explains why the standard softball bat diameter of 2.25 inches is less than half of the maximum allowable 6 inches.

Equipment used in softball is similar to that of baseball
softball

Gloves

Another main difference in fast pitch and slow pitch softball is the glove for the catcher. In slow pitch the catcher uses an outfielder's glove, but in fast pitch the glove has a lot more padding to protect the hand and fingers from high-speed impacts. Outfielders tend to use longer gloves, while infielders and pitchers use smaller gloves.

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