What is it?
Slowpitch softball, which makes up over 90% of the sport in the UK, is a fun and social game which is easy to learn and play, even if you don’t have a sporting background or athletic skills.
Softball is related to rounders, cricket and baseball: when your team is on offense, you hit a slowly-pitched ball with a round bat (everyone can do this) and attempt to advance around four bases and score a run. Meanwhile, the defense is trying to get you out by catching balls hit in the air or throwing the ball to the base you’re attempting to reach. A full game, consisting of seven “innings”, usually takes between 60 and 90 minutes.
Slowpitch softball is played in leagues based in most major towns and cities in England, Scotland and Wales, and is usually played by teams made up of equal numbers of female and male players. Slowpitch softball is a sport in which the two sexes play on completely equal terms and in which female players are usually more important than the men – so female players are particularly welcome!
There are also some all-women slowpitch teams, but the main all-women format of the sport is called fastpitch softball, and is a bit more athletically and tactically challenging. Women’s fastpitch softball was the Olympic format of the sport from 1996-2008, and is expected to be reinstated to the Olympic programme in 2020.
Why is it good for me?
Softball provides a great opportunity for fresh air and exercise while not being too aerobically demanding. Instead, it’s a sport that will increase agility, reactions and concentration.
Best of all, however, softball encourages new friendships and team-building. Most participants view it as a great social activity as well as a sporting competition.
How much does it cost?
Softball teams, clubs or leagues will often offer free taster sessions, or at most will charge £5 or less per session.
If you join a club and start taking part in league games (usually on weekday evenings), you will need to pay a club fee, which might amount to around £40 for the whole summer season.
If your team takes part in occasional weekend tournaments, the cost is usually around £10-15 per day plus food and maybe travel costs.
What equipment do I need?
To get started playing softball, you should only need comfortable athletic clothing (T-shirt and sweat pants), plus trainers and maybe a cap or visor.
Softball playing equipment such as bats, balls and fielding gloves will usually be provided by the club or session where you start playing.
Most of those who continue with the sport will eventually purchase their own fielding glove, and sometimes their own bat.