Welcome to AllAboutFastpitch, a place for anyone interested in fastpitch softball. This website is aimed at helping you better understand this amazing, dynamic and competitive game. If you already play softball, here you can find what you need to bring your game to the next level.
Equipment is a big part of any sport. That is why we offer you honest reviews of the latest softball gear available on the market. You can also find advice on how to choose the best fastpitch softball bats, how to find the best softball gloves or softball cleats, and much more on our website!
Fastpitch vs. Slowpitch Softball
There are two types of softball: slow pitch and fastpitch, or fastpitch softball. The game is in the basic the same, but there are a few key differences. The ball is designed a bit distinctly because the pitch in fastpitch softball is much faster. Because the ball is different it is important to make a difference between bats as well. Fastpitch softball bats are designed to hit balls that travel more than 60mph.
Fastpitch bats tend to be lighter than slow-pitch bats because a lighter bat allows a quicker response to a fast-moving pitch. Fast-pitch bats’ weight range from 23 ounces to 28 ounces, while slow-pitch bats are traditionally heavier.
The length of the two types of bats is almost identical. Slowpitch softball bats are almost always 34 inches in length. Fastpitch bats have a wider range; they may be slightly shorter, going from 32 inches to 34 inches. The barrel of both of these bats is on the narrow side, with a diameter of 2 1/4 inches.
It is essential to use the proper bat for the type of softball that you are playing. In theory, you can use fastpitch bat for a slow pitch softball, but it’s not advisable, as a lighter fastpitch bat can easily be damaged. A slow pitch bat would reduce your reaction time and make it difficult to hit the ball if you played a game of fastpitch with it.
There are several associations that support fastpitch softball. You should know that these associations and leagues they represent may have different rules and regulations, so we recommend that you check the rules of your league before you start playing or buying equipment. The associations that support fastpitch softball are: International Softball Federation (ISF), Amateur Softball Association (ASA), North American Fastpitch Association(NAFA), National Club Softball Association (NCSA), National Softball Association (NSA), Independent Softball Association (ISA), International Softball Congress (ISC), United States Fastpitch Association (USFA), the USSSA, and PONY Softball.
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Fastpitch Softball Equipment
The 12-inch softball is used in many softball leagues including men’s fastpitch softball teams. It is also used by women’s fastpitch softball teams and girls’ youth fastpitch teams. Younger players mostly use the 11-inch ball. 12-inch fastpitch softball weighs 6.25–7.00 ounces. The ball has a leather surface, and optionally, a raised seam. The color of the ball used in most fastpitch leagues today is the distinguished “optic” yellow.
Bats in fastpitch softball come in various sizes and consist of wood, aluminum, or composite materials. All bats used in ASA softball competitions must have an ASA-approved stamp and be included in a list of approved bat models. A fastpitch softball bat must not be more than 34 inches long, with a drop of no more than -13. The drop is the number calculated by subtracting the weight of the bat in ounces from the bat’s length in inches.
Gloves are worn by all members of the defensive team and they come in various styles and sizes. They are made with leather or some other kind of durable fabric. Gloves and mitts differ depending on the position of the player. Gloves for fastpitch softball are similar to baseball gloves, but they can be larger, up to 14 inches from top to bottom.
Fastpitch softball uniforms usually include a shirt, undershirt, properly fitted undershorts, baseball socks, cap, visor, and shorts. Baseball caps and headbands are optional for women. Fastpitch softball shoes are also part of the uniform. They may have cleats or spikes that are strictly regulated by the governing bodies in fastpitch softball.
Other pieces of softball gear include:
- Batting Helmet – This is the most important piece of safety equipment in softball. Softball helmets are designed to protect batters’ heads from any kind of ball hits by distributing the force of the ball. It is constructed of rigid durable plastic and foam. Softball helmets include optional wire face guards and ponytail channels for female athletes.
- Batting Gloves – These are not necessary equipment but if used they can help in improving performance. Softball batting gloves help in getting a better grip on the fastpitch bat, prevent blisters and reduce the vibrations players feel when they mishit a softball.
- Sliding Shorts and Sliders – Most female players wear sliding shorts. They are padded shorts designed to protect the athlete when sliding into a base. Sliders protect the shin and calf from injury when sliding and look much like shin guards.
- Catcher’s Gear – Softball catchers must wear catcher’s gear that consists of helmets with face guards and throat protectors, chest protectors, and shin guards that reach up above the knees. Softball is very heavy and can cause serious injuries if the catcher is not properly protected.
- Pitching Machine – A pitching machine is one of the most essential tools for your softball practice. It will bring your game to a higher level, and, unlike your training partner, it will never be tired.
Why is Choosing the Right Equipment Important?
Most teams provide their players with the equipment they need, but they can also choose to buy their own equipment. Buying your own softball gear has many advantages, but the choice might be hard because the selection is huge and the prices vary greatly. The important thing is to resist the temptation to buy the cheapest equipment. That doesn’t mean that you should go bankrupt, but be aware that a certain quality comes with a certain price. If your budget is currently limited, it is better to wait and save up a bit more for high-quality items.
But why is it so important that you choose the right softball equipment? Here are the top reasons:
- Adjusting to your new gear will be easier. Equipment specialized for fastpitch softball tends to be more expensive, but there is a reason for it. Specialized gear is designed to fit the player, and the game requirements, as close as possible. In the ideal world every player would have their own personalized gear, but choosing the right softball equipment in stores is the next best thing.
- Quality equipment is built to last longer. And you can find some of the high-quality products at a reasonable price, however, this is more of an exception than a rule. You should consider buying softball equipment an investment that will help you improve your game performance. You wouldn’t skimp on your game, so don’t do it on your equipment either.
- The right gear will prevent unnecessary injuries. For example, by choosing the bat that is the right weight for you, you will avoid a shoulder injury. Or by choosing the softball cleats that fit you properly, you will keep your ankle from injuring. Softball gear should help you enhance your performance and it absolutely must not cause you any pain or discomfort.
Fastpitch softball is a really fast game, which is why the bat must be fast and powerful. Fastpitch bats can be constructed as a one-piece or a two-piece. A one-piece bat is stronger and stiffer, it is made for power hitters who swing with more speed and force. A two-piece bat is designed out of two pieces: handle and barrel. This gives the barrel the ability to flex more easily and provides a pop effect. The two-piece fastpitch softball bat can compensate for the lack of speed in your swing and can maximize your hitting skills. Depending on the material they are made with bats can be wooden, aluminum (or alloy), composite and hybrid.
The main types of gloves you can find in the sporting goods store are baseball and softball gloves. Whether you’re playing slow pitch or fastpitch softball, you shouldn’t be wearing a glove designed for baseball. A softball is much larger than a baseball so baseball gloves have pockets that are too small for a softball. Also, you should be aware that the position you are playing determines the type of glove you should buy. There is a difference between a catcher’s mitt and a first baseman glove, infielder glove, and the one for the outfielder, and of course, there are the batting gloves too. Softball gloves can also be made from different materials, which determines their quality (and price).
Softball cleats are very important, they are what connects you to the ground. They come in many different styles and colors, so the choice might seem overwhelming. If you are uncertain about which softball cleat you should choose, you may start with going through the brands that A-level players are using. If you already have a favorite brand of regular athletic shoes, there is a great chance that they make cleats as well, like Nike, Adidas or New Balance. Other good brands of softball cleats are Mizuno, Ringor and Under Armour. Another important decision that each player must make is whether to use metal or plastic spikes. Just make sure to check the rules of your league.
Best Fastpitch Softball Bats, Gloves, and Cleats
One thing that doesn’t lack when it comes to choosing a bat, a glove, or a pair of cleats is the number of opinions you will encounter on the internet. There are thousands of reviews written by players and formal players, parents, and coaches, and there is no general agreement on what is the best. We try to provide as much information as we can, to help you make the best decision. We hope to help you find the best fastpitch softball bat, best fastpitch softball gloves, and the best softball cleats.