Tips for Beginners: Softball
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While many may think softball came about because of baseball, the sport was actually created in 1887 inside of the Farragut Boat Club in Chicago, Illinois.
According to the Aspen Institute, in 2020 there were 331,000 kids between the ages of 6-12 participating in softball. Referencing the same data by the Aspen Institute, there were 353,000 13-17-year-olds playing softball in 2020. The sport has different variations that are played, slow-pitch and fast pitch softball. Fast pitch softball is an Olympic sport, while slow-pitch is known to be more commonly played. If your child is just getting started playing softball or has a sudden interest in the sport, here are some beginner tips.
Get the right equipment
Before jumping right into learning how to hit a softball, although important to the game, you’ll want to make sure you have the right equipment.
Find a glove that fits and a softball. It won’t do any good to start practicing softball using a baseball you found in the backyard. Make sure that you get a hold of a softball, which typically ranges from 11.88 and 12.13 inches in circumference. Once you get a softball, take notice in how it feels, its weight, and the texture. Some softballs are a bright yellow color, while others are white. Some may have risen seams, while others may not. Toss the ball up to yourself and feel how it drops into your glove.
Break it in
Once you get a glove, practice catching, rolling the softball around in it, and doing everything you can to break it in. Breaking in a glove is essential to getting properly geared up to play. A stiff glove won’t do you any good. Don’t worry about purchasing a glove that you’ll grow into, it’s better to buy the correct size and even if it feels like you’ll outgrow it soon, the glove will stretch once you break it in.
Practice your throw
Throwing a softball, unless you’re a pitcher is an overhand toss. Practicing throwing the ball either with a parent or friend, or even against a wall or kick-back machine. How does the softball feel when it leaves your hand? What grip do you have on the ball before it leaves your hand? Think about these questions. When it comes to throwing a softball correctly, consider these tips.
- You will throw with your dominant hand, so that means the glove will be put on your other hand.
- Using your dominant hand, the hand that you are throwing with, turn the ball so you see a “C” form on the seams in front of you. Place your index, middle, and ring fingers across the seams. Your thumb will grip the seams on the bottom of the ball to support it.
- Don’t worry about your pinky finger.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. You’ll want your back foot facing the person or target you’re throwing to and your front foot lined up with your back foot. The idea being that your feet facing the target will position your hips and body to achieve reaching the target.
- Point your glove towards the target while bringing your arm with the ball behind you. Make sure your elbow is at a 90 degree angle.
- Release the ball once you bring the arm forward past your head.
Learn to swing
TeamSnap has a full resource guide to learning how to hit a softball, but one beginner tip is to tie a plastic bag around your bat. Practice swinging your softball bat with the plastic bag tied to it. Don’t worry about hitting a softball yet, but this will teach your beginner player how to swing through. The whole point of this is to practice swinging through, as opposed to stopping short once the softball makes contact with the bat. By swinging through, there will be power, thus the softball will likely travel further.
Run the bases
As a kid, one of the most fun activities is to step on a softball field and run around the bases. There’s something satisfying and exhilarating about touching each base and sliding through home. Encourage your young athlete to run through each base. This will teach him/her to run full speed, not stopping short or stopping right on the base.
Do you or someone you know need help managing their softball team or club? Sign up for a free 21-day trial today. Or check out our club and league solution, TeamSnap for Clubs and Leagues if your team is part of a larger sports organization.