Softball is a popular game and sport that is played all around the world. It is a team sport that involves two teams, both taking turns at batting and fielding. In this article, we will discuss how long a softball game lasts, what types of softball games there are, and the factors that contribute to the length of a game.
On average, a softball game lasts for approximately two hours. Softball is a game that does not have a set game time because of the structure of the game. How long the game lasts depends on how long the innings last.
Softball can be played in a variety of ways, such as playing fastpitch or soft pitch softball or playing competitively or a more relaxed game. Let’s explore the different aspects of softball and some important things to know about the game.
The object of a softball game is to hit the ball using a bat before the player runs around an infield with four bases. Once a player runs all the way around without getting out, a run is scored. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.
The length of a softball game can be determined by the version of softball that is being played, the age group, and the specific rules. Softball can be played in teams of just males or females or you can play as mixed-gender teams.
Generally, a softball game has three to seven innings. Professional softball as well as college and high school softball play games that are seven innings long in fastpitch softball or nine innings in slowpitch softball. Youth and kids’ softball games are around three to five innings.
The duration of a softball game can become longer if there is a tie, as the teams then play more innings to decide the team that wins. The length of the game can also become shorter if the league only has a fixed amount of time to play on the field.
Softball games can also finish early because of the referee’s decision, such as it being too dark to play or the weather becoming too bad to play in. However, most of the time a softball game will last approximately two hours, but it may be less for youth and kids’ softball games as there is likely a time limit for the game.
An inning is when both teams take a turn at batting and fielding. When three outs occur, the teams then switch who is batting and the other team will field.
A player can get out not just by being a batter and missing the ball but also by the other team catching the ball in the air before it hits the ground. Also, a runner can be hit by the ball when they aren’t standing on the base. Click here for How Many Innings are in Softball?
We can see that the innings are the key factor to how long a softball game will last, and it all comes down to how long it takes for outs to occur in the game and the number of innings being played.
Fastpitch and slowpitch softball both follow the main foundational rules of a softball game, but vary in the certain ways it is played. This is mainly because of the skill level required in the games and what pace they want to go at.
Both men and women play both fastpitch and slowpitch softball and, depending on who is playing, the games can be more fun and relaxed or more serious and competitive.
The table below represents the main differences between fastpitch and slowpitch softball.
|Most popular type known and played
|Less commonly known and played
|Competitive / high performing
|All ages can play / skill level varies
|Pitches arm rotates 360 degrees around the shoulder before the ball is released
|Uses standard ball
|Uses larger, softer, and heavier ball
|Ball moves faster
|Ball moves slower
|Bunting not allowed
|Can steal bases
|Cannot steal bases
|Game is typically shorter
|Game is typically longer
|Pitching distance is 35-43 feet
|Pitching distance is 50 feet
|Full catchers equipment needs to be worn and has to squat in position
|Only face mask is required for the catcher and it is optional to squat
|Generally 7 innings in length
|Generally 9 innings in length
From this table showing the differences between fastpitch and slowpitch softball, we can see that fastpitch softball is the more popular game for skilled and competitive players to play due to the faster pace. We can see that the slowpitch style is great for beginners and those that want to play a more relaxed game.
To score a run in a softball game, a player on the batting team needs to get across all four bases, the first base, second base, and the third base to get to the home plate. A home run or multiple hits in a single inning often enables the players to cross their home plate, which gives the team a run.
There are many positions in the game of softball, and we can split them into three different categories. These categories are the infield, the outfield, and the pitcher and catcher.
These categories represent the team that is not batting, they are the positions that are being played by the team who are in the field. The team that is batting only has that one position as they are batting against the other team’s pitcher.
Let’s go through the different positions that players take in softball and see what they do in these roles.
The batter’s goal is to hit the ball and run to get to the different bases until they reach the home plate and therefore score a run for their team. The batter faces the pitcher and hits the softball into the field and away from the opposing team’s players. If they hit the ball, the batter starts running to the first base.
The catcher’s goal is to catch the ball behind the batter at the home plate. If the batter misses the ball that the pitcher throws, it will be heading to the catcher to get. The catcher also lets the fielders know how many strikes and outs there are. They are generally squatting down and give the pitcher a target to aim for.
The main role of the pitcher is to throw balls to the batter through the strike zone. They also catch balls in their area and around the first base, acting like another fielder after they have thrown the ball to the batter.
The first baseman’s goal is to cover the first base, and often when a ground ball is hit in the infield, the ball is thrown to the first baseman. They stand a couple of feet off the first base towards the second base. The first baseman is known to have a long reach in order to get people out.
The second baseman’s goal is to catch balls and field ground balls in their area and cover the second base. They stand between the first and second base and are often right-handed.
The ballstop’s goal is to catch the balls between the second and third base, therefore they stand between these two bases. They are a very versatile team member and are commonly involved in making double plays.
The right fielder’s goal is to catch balls, line drives, and field ground balls. They stand behind the first base in the outer field on the right side of the field. These players are often very good at tracking balls and have strong arms as they have long throws to make.
The left fielder has the same goals as the right fielder, but they are positioned on the left side of the outfield and are closest to the third base.
The center fielder’s goal is to catch the balls, line drives, and field the ground balls in the outfield as well. They stand behind the second base in the middle of the outfield between the left and right fields.
We can see that all the players in these positions in a softball game play a vital role and they all work together. How fast they work together to cause outs can determine how fast the game goes.
The game of softball requires quite a bit of equipment, especially if it is a professional game. It is a sport where there can be hazards due to the way softball is played and how fast and powerful equipment is being used.
There are hard and fast balls being hit into the field where there are people fielding, which can cause harm if these plays are hit. The bats used in softball could hurt somebody if a player is hit by accident. Therefore, we can see that equipment for the player’s safety is needed as well as the basic equipment required to be able to play the sport.
Let’s explore the main equipment used in a traditional softball game for both equipment needed on the field for the game and protective equipment for the softball players.
Here is the basic equipment that is needed for a softball game, however, there is also additional equipment to use for training and practice.
- Softball Bat
- Soft Ball
Specific clothing and accessories are worn by softball players to protect them as they play. Some are optional and some are compulsory, and depending on their position, some further equipment may be required for their own protection.
- Uniform clothing
- Batting gloves
- Batting helmet
- Catcher’s chest protector
- Catcher’s glove
- Catcher’s helmet
- Catcher’s leg guards
- Fielder’s face guards
- Gloves and mitts
- Knee savers
- Mouth guard
- Softball cleats
- Ankle guard
- Arm guard
- Elbow protector
This fastpitch softball bat on Amazon has currently rated the number one bestseller. It comes in different size options and is made from aluminum. It is thin and lightweight and made for youth softball.
This softball glove, designed for youth, is currently rated the number one bestseller in the softball mitt category. It comes in different sizes and colors and is made out of leather.
To become a better softball player, you will need to perform drills and exercises that will enhance your skills and performance. Here are a few drills to try, whether you are a beginner or a more advanced player:
This drill is great for improving your hand and batting speed. You will need a partner to do this with, and a softball and a bat. The batter’s partner will face them and hold the ball at shoulder height. The batter will then tell them when to drop the ball and the partner will do so while also pulling their hand away quickly while the batter takes the hit.
This drill is great for catchers as this involves getting a feel for wearing a softball glove while catching the ball, so it is an ideal drill for beginners. You learn to isolate the thumb, middle finger, and index finger of your glove hand.
This drill is done by taking a small ball and pinching it between your pinky, ring finger, and palm while you get into your catcher’s stance. From there, your partner will throw balls at you that you are to catch using your remaining three fingers.
This drill is for the softball pitchers to develop their stride strength. Therefore, it is all about explosiveness and balance in the legs.
This drill involves you having your drag leg on the mound and lifting your landing leg and finding balance. From this place, you will rock your landing leg forward to be level with your hip and then rock forward and back twice, then power forward.
This drill is for the catchers to develop their lateral movements. All you need is yourself and six balls for this practice.
To start, space all the softballs approximately two meters apart in a line. Then get into a receiving position behind the first ball and then block it. Do this with all the balls as you go down the line and then repeat this in the opposite direction so your lateral strength is improved on both the left and right sides.
This drill is for the batters, as it’s all about practicing the hitting rhythm and learning to hit the ball at the top of the bounce. You will need a partner that will stand six feet to the side and three feet in front of the batter.
They will toss a tennis ball that bounces up into the strike zone in front of the plate. As the ball bounces, the batter gets prepared to swing, waiting for the ball to be at the height of the bounce before swinging and hitting it.
These five drills incorporate a mix of skills that are appropriate for the different positions in baseball and will support the development of players’ fitness, strength, and abilities.
The pitching distance between softball and baseball is different and one of the main differences between the two sports. In softball, the ball is pitched from a flat pitching circle that is no more than forty-three feet away from the plate. However, in baseball, the ball is pitched from an elevated mound that is sixty feet away from the plate.
Softball bats tend to be lighter, shorter, and thinner than baseball bats.
Softballs are larger than baseballs. The circumference of a softball is about twelve inches compared to a baseball which is nine inches. The color and feel of the balls vary as well. A softball is soft and yellow, whereas a baseball is harder and is red with white stitching.
Softball fields are smaller than baseball fields.
The game of softball was invented first as indoor softball in 1887 by a man named George Hancock. Outdoor softball came about just one year later. It became an organized sport in the United States of America in 1933 and was mainly only played by men.
The game of softball is played all around the world but it is most popular in the countries of America, China, and Japan.
The longest game of softball ever played was 115 hours and 3 minutes at Waskatenau, Alberta, Canada from 30th June to 15th July 2009. Team Stollery beat Team Cross 876-766. Forty men competed in this game, playing a total of 721 innings. They raised over $90,000 for Stollery Children’s Hospital and the Cross Cancer Institute.
Overall, a softball game will last for approximately two hours but will vary due to the number of innings and how fast the teams get outs. What can also contribute to the length of a softball game is if it is a professional game or a fun college or family game and whether fastpitch or slowpitch softball is being played.