Basic Equipment

The Ball

Helment with ball in glove

Depending on the age bracket, softballs are either 11'' or 12'' in circumference. Younger age brackets play with a smaller ball. A softball has a flat seam with at least 88 stitches on the cover, normally bright red and is bright yellow in color.

The Bat

Typically in softball, players use non-wooden bats that are composites of aluminium and other materials. These bats are part of a new "flex technology," where the bat cushions the softball upon impact, flexing back and then springing forward through the swing, thus launching the ball a farther distance. The weight and length of the bat depends on the batter. In high school and college, most batters swing bats that have a weight 10 less than the length. For example, if they are swinging a 32 inch bat, then it will weight 22 ounces. Different softball associations have different regulations regarding bat size, weight, safety grip length, etc. Sometimes bats are made illegal due to the dangerous effects they produce when hitting a softball.

The Glove

All fielders may use gloves, with the catcher and first baseman using larger, specially-designed mitts to protect their hands from balls consistenly being caught at high rates of speed. The top lacing or webbing on any glove or mitt may not exceed five inches in length. Gloves, like bats and helmets, are all about the personal preference of the player. Outfielders often use slightly larger gloves to accomodate running down fly balls. An infielders glove is typically smaller so that ball to hand transfer is more effective, and the play can be made more quickly.

The "Orange Bag"

On a softball field, immediately next to the standard, white-colored first base, there is an orange-colored base that lies in foul territory. On plays at first involving a runner advancing from home plate, the white base is used by the defender and the orange base is used by the runner. The double-base arrangement helps minimize collisions.


Helmets are mandatory for batters, on-deck batters, runners and catchers. The helmets for batters and runners must have two earflaps and must have protective padding in the inside. In youth, high school and college leagues, protective face masks must be fitted over the helmet. The catcher's helmet is similar to the helmet worn by batters, but it is not required to have earflaps. Catchers also wear a mask, throat guard and body protector. Knee guards are optional.

Pitcher's Rubber

At 2 feet long and 6 inches wide, the pitching rubber is 43 feet from home plate. It is level with the playing field and is used by the pitcher to propel through her pitch towards the plate.

© Jenna Harris 2009