Softball is a safer version of baseball that suits both boys and girls. It does not require any special physical data and does not entail serious injury. The cost of purchasing softball equipment is minimal, so almost every child can engage in this sport.
There are two theories of the origin of this sport. In the first, it appeared 200 years ago as a result of the fusion of cultures of different peoples. The game combines cricket, pesopolo and rounders. Another theory is about a group of friends who played a kind of baseball in a gym in 1887. The rules of the game were officially published 2 years after these events. Softball got its name as a sport only in 1920.
Initially, softball was a men’s sport, but over time, women also began to play it. This sport became popular, and in 1952 the International Softball Federation was created. In 2013, it merges with the International Baseball Federation to form the World Baseball Softball Confederation.
In 2016, the International Olympic Committee decided to include softball in the list of sports that will be represented at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Difference between softball and baseball
Softball, unlike baseball, is played both outdoors and indoors. The game is also different in that everyone can play it: adults, children, athletes and people without special physical training. Shots in this sport are weaker due to the softer ball and the specifics of the game itself. As it is often held in the gym, players try to avoid heavy impacts that lead to injury. There are three types of game: Fast Pitchб Modified Pitchб and Slow Pitch.
Other features of this sport include:
- The standard ball has the shape of a grapefruit, the circumference is 30.2-30.8 cm, and the weight is 178.0-198.4 grams. Unlike a baseball, it is softer and develops a slower flight speed;
- The bat is of a different design (thicker and longer than a baseball bat) and is usually made from lighter materials that are approved by the World Confederation. Bits are separately designed for fast and slow feed;
- Some points of the rules are changed, for example, the pitcher pitches the ball from below;
- The distance between bases is reduced.
Girls and boys
Softball is popular because women and girls can play it without fear of serious injury. Lightweight bats and balls allow athletes of any gender and any level of athletic training to participate in the game.
In this sport, there are two types of pitching: fast and slow. Fast pitching is the most common among girls, and slow pitching is most common among guys. The teams in the game are usually divided into women and men, but there are also mixed games.
Amateur softball is available for both genders, but only women are considered an Olympic sport. Often, boys play softball from the age of 5-6 and then move on to baseball. Girls, as a rule, continue to play softball because this is a fairly harmonious sport.
When is my child ready for softball?
Sports schools accept children aged at least 7 to the sports and recreation stage. Children learn important motor skills and the basics of softball. The training process at this stage is aimed at strengthening the health and general physical development of the child.
Stages of sports training
In sports schools, students are trained in accordance with the sports training standards in the softball sport. The transition of athletes from one stage of training to the next is made when they improve the results of their performance in competitions, passing testing in technical, general physical and special training.
Initial preparation stage
Children who have reached 9 years of age and do not have medical contraindications are enrolled in this stage.
The main tasks of the stage:
- strengthening the health of a young athlete;
- harmonious development of physical qualities;
- the formation of a sustainable interest in sports and softball;
- versatile motor training;
- obtaining theoretical information about the technique, the basics of tactics and the rules of the softball game;
- practical mastering of the basics of game tactics: individual and elementary team;
- studying the game process in accordance with the rules of the game on a small “square”;
- instilling diligence, discipline, concentration;
- awakening in children the feelings of camaraderie, honesty and collectivism within the group;
- selection of the most promising children to continue sports training.
The initial training phase lasts 2 years.
Training stage (sports specialization stage)
Children who have reached the age of 11 are allowed to play softball. The stage is formed on a competitive basis from healthy and practically healthy students who have undergone the necessary training and fulfilled the necessary standards for general physical and special training.
The main tasks of the stage:
- health promotion and hardening of the body of students;
- developing a sense of duty, discipline and task fulfillment;
- providing comprehensive physical training with the predominant development of speed and coordination of movements;
- preparation and implementation of standards;
- mastering the techniques that are most often and effectively used in the game;
- expansion of technical and tactical knowledge of the game in defense and attack;
- fulfillment of the requirements of the III youth category;
- gaining experience and achieving stability in performance at official sports competitions;
- the formation of sports motivation.
The Sports Specialization Stage lasts 4 years.
Stage of sportsmanship improvement
Athletes who have reached the age of 13 and have completed a sports category are enrolled at the stage of sports improvement: I adult, Candidate Master of Sports. Work with the student is carried out according to an individual plan of sports training. To improve athletic performance, an additional second coach can be attached to the athlete.
The main tasks of the stage:
- preservation of health;
- increasing the functional capabilities of the athlete’s body;
- improvement of general and special physical qualities, psychological preparation;
- mastering the entire arsenal of game techniques;
- improvement of individual and team tactics of the game;
- improvement of tactical actions in game situations in defense and attack;
- determining the playing inclinations of softball players;
- stable demonstration of high sports results at softball sports competitions;
- maintaining a high level of sports motivation;
- strengthening a sense of duty, discipline and fulfillment of the assigned task;
- acquisition of elementary refereeing skills;
- the study of the initial theoretical information about the methodology of physical exercises, the functions of the players in defense, tactical schemes of the game.
The stage has an unlimited period.
Stage of the highest sportsmanship
An athlete must be 15 years of age to be admitted to the stage. Work with him or her is carried out according to individual plans of sports training. To improve athletic performance, an additional second coach can be attached to the athlete.
The main tasks of the stage:
- achievement of results of the level of US sports teams;
- increasing the stability of the demonstration of high sports results at official national and international sports competitions.
The stage has an unlimited period.
|Stages of sports training||Duration (in years)||Minimum age for enrollment in groups (years)|
|Initial training stage||2||9|
|Sports specialization stage||4||11|
|Stage of the highest sportsmanship||Unlimited||15|
How much does it cost to play softball?
According to softballjourney.com, the cost of playing softball involves player fees for tournaments generally range from $375 to $3,500. It resembles a country club sport — only those who can afford it, play it. First of all, you will need money to purchase the basic equipment used in softball: balls, bats, gloves, cleats, batting helmets and gloves.
Some parents even have to apply for a loan to purchase the necessary equipment. Those who have a bad credit history are usually not eligible for bank loans. In this case, bad credit loans become the only way to get fast cash. Borrower eligibility requirements have minor differences across the country. For example, to get loans for bad credit in Oregon, you must be a US citizen or permanent resident and have and a stable income. Money is transferred to the borrower’s bank account immediately.
Benefits of playing softball
Softball is a fun, social game that is easy to learn and play, even if your child has no athletic skills.
The main advantages of this sport:
- suitable for both boys and girls;
- can be played at any age;
- classes are held both in the hall and in the fresh air;
- the game improves the functioning of the body systems: cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular;
- less traumatic than baseball and similar sports since lightweight balls and bats are used for the game;
- classes develop the child’s willpower and endurance, accuracy and dexterity, quick thinking and concentration of attention;
- harmoniously fosters active individual and collective interactions;
- the child learns to strive for victory, to win and not to give up if he or she loses.
Softball is a team game that teaches:
- organizational skills, mutual assistance;
- work in a team, be able to negotiate and resolve conflicts peacefully;
- to express your opinion clearly and competently, share ideas;
- to be able to control your actions and take responsibility for your actions;
- to correctly and objectively evaluate the actions of a team member;
- to understand that the action of one player affects the result of the entire team.
Softball can be played up to 40 years old or even longer. The main thing in softball is game intelligence and mutual understanding.
Disadvantages of softball
- Injuries. The downside to softball is injury. The exercise balls are lightweight, but they develop great speed. A player may be injured or bruised if he or she misses a particularly hard ball hit. Softball athletes often have bruises, a broken nose, fractures, and tendon tissue inflammation. The main load for softball players goes to the joints of the hands and knees since all team players, without exception, make throws. Therefore, it is important to follow the basic requirements of a coach and a sports doctor. Actively pay attention to warm-up, stretching at the beginning of the workout and before the game;
- Equipment costs. At the initial stage of preparation, a young athlete needs to purchase a minimum set: a glove, helmet, boots and a comfortable uniform for the game. Catchers will also need protection to avoid injuries to the face and lower legs. The outfit will have to be changed as the child grows. Most of the parents’ expenses will go to pay for training (for private sections) and competitions.
Before playing softball, it is required to consult a doctor and check your general health. All children entering sports schools must provide a certificate from a doctor about their admission to this type of sports. In the future, athletes involved in softball are under the supervision of the sports medicine dispensary.
Softball is often played outdoors, so children with asthma or plant allergies should be careful.
How to choose a section
- Find out the cost of lessons. Collect information on all available softball clubs and schools in your city to compare prices for the same service and make a choice;
- Choose a section near your home so as not to waste time and energy on the road;
- Before starting lessions, it is worth finding information about the future coach, his/her qualifications and reputation. Try to find feedback from students and their parents who were previously engaged in the section;
- Take a trial lesson, see how the coach communicates with the children;
- Talk to a coach in person to get to know him/her better and get your opinion;
- Take an interest in the child’s opinion, whether he/she likes to play softball or not.
What are some difficulties people face?
Parents can face common problems common to any sport:
- Unwillingness of the child to engage in this sport. In order for the young athlete to enjoy training in the future, find a section that conducts trial classes for free or buy a subscription for a month. So the child will get acquainted with the game and understand whether he or she likes it;
- Incompetence and disinterest of the coach. Be sure to talk to your child about the coach. You need to know how the mentor treats the children and how they behave in the classroom. To make sure of this, it is recommended that you personally attend several lessons.
Softball is one of the fastest-growing sports among teenagers not only in America The game is suitable for active children who find it difficult to sit still. Thanks to this sport, a young athlete will gain communication skills with the team, increase his/her agility and concentration. This sport is safer than baseball and can therefore be recommended for younger children.