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What you need to know- Are you playing Fast pitch or slow pitch? (read our article on Fast Pitch Vs. Slow).
Getting back into the swing of things (pun intended) by joining a softball team now the warm weather is here? Or did your friend or even someone from your company talk you into trying softball for the first time? Whatever your reasons, here are some equipment tips for the beginner or player joining up after a long absence.
Cleats-Make sure you are getting softball cleats, not soccer cleats. To avoid buying soccer cleats, turn the cleat over and look directly below where your toes would be, and mentally mark off the middle. Then look to see if there is a cleat, or stub in that area. If so, it is a softball cleat: soccer cleats will not have a cleat in that area. If you shop in the men's section, they might have metal cleats and they are only used in college or pros, so avoid them. You want the softer rubber or synthetic cleats. Now look inside the shoe. Padding on the inside makes the cleat more comfortable. Look to the outside for composite material to resist water.
Gloves-The softer the better, but more expensive. Can you squeeze the glove tightly enough to keep the ball secure if the base runner tries to knock it out? One trick to soften a glove is to stuff the size ball you are using in the webbing of the glove where it is caught and lash a belt or piece of rope around that, then stick the glove under your mattress for a few days. Brand names we like are Wilson®, Nike®, Mizuno®, Rawlings®, and Easton®, Worth®, Louisville®, Anderson, and DeMarinin®. If you know you are going to play primarily outfield, look for a glove with a bigger “basket” or webbing. If you are going to play primarily infield positions, look for a glove that does not have as big a webbing. This enables the fielder to get the ball out of the glove faster when throwing to a base. If you are insure where you will be playing, get a glove that is a compromise with a medium basket or medium amount of webbing.
Bats-This piece of equipment depends heavily on personal preference. General rules to keep in mind is the lighter the bat (measured in ounces) the faster the swing, but the heavier the bat, the more “power” you can put behind the ball and drive it farther. Ask to borrow many bats from your teemmates and find out which you prefer before buying. Many softball bats today have a bigger barrel (the area where you hit the ball), especially compared to a baseball bat. The barrel has also been engineered to make the ball fly farther if you hit it just right in the “sweet” spot. Again, experiment with different sizes and circumferences. One more rule of thumb: some leagues have “outlawed” bats because they are too powerful. Find out what bats are allowed or not allowed in your leaguer before buying. Softball.org has good information on bats and it's a good idea to check thme out before you buy. Brand names we like are Easton®, Rawlings®, Worth®, Louisville®, Anderson, Muzuno®, and DeMarinin®. We especially like the Easton® model synergy 2.
Accessories-You can usually tell a softball player by the scar just below one knee. It is from sliding in shorts and scrapping the heck out of your skin. I recommend slide pads to protect the knees, or the newer long slide brace-knee pad. And while you are at it, get slide pants that have padding on the hips and buttocks. Batting gloves are nice to keep your grip on the bat and also double as extra padding on your catching hand when worn in addition to your softball glove. Don't forget sunglasses. Look for sunglasses that have interchangeable lens. Relatively new yellow lenses help on bright but overcast days when you don't need something so dark. Other accessories are, hats, and a big bag to put it all in. Bat bags now-a-days have special hooks to hook that bag to the fence to keep your stuff handy and off the ground.
Men's and women's softballs are different sizes and weights. The women's ball is lighter and flies further. Check with your league if you are unsure. Then check out the Softball.org, the official web site for certified equipment.
Get Down and Dirty, Play Softball Women’s T-shirt
Buy this and other Women’s Softball products at CafePress
All About Fast Pitch-source for great softball tips and resources
All about Softball Pitching-Recommendations and Information for Girl Fastpitch Softball Pitchers
Girls Fast Pitch Softball Books
Fast Pitch-resources, tips, drills
Fast Pitch drills
Fast Pitch Forever-magazine for girls
Fast Pitch-Pitching Tips and Drills
Fast Pitch Softball.com-resources
Fast Pitch Talk Radio-fastpicthc tips. stories, discussions
Fast Pitch Field Dimensions
My Fast Pitch Trainer-maintain strength during the long season.
My Softball Coach.com-tips and links.
National Fast Pitch Coaching Association
National Pro Fast Pitch League
Softball 2day-fastpitch softball coaching information
Softball Fast Pitch Drills-Baserunning, Catching, Coaching, Fielding, Games, Hitting, Pitching, Practice, Strength & Conditioning, Throwing
Women's Fast Pitch Softball-Official site of women's amateur softball
Women's Fast Pitch Softball Assocation
Life in the Fastpitch Softball Lane Blog-Fastpitch softball news, tips, and AllAboutFastpitch.com updates.
Dot Richardson, one of our favorite Olympic Players!