Softball is not only one of the most popular sports in the country, it is also among the fastest growing. Youth involvement has grown exponentially in the last 20 years and Area Scouts is proud to offer the softball skills every player needs.
Whether a beginner or an experienced player, Area Scouts’ team of professionals will help you improve your skills and have more fun playing the game.
Let’s talk about the game and the softball skills every player needs to know.
What is Softball?
Softball is a spinoff of the game of baseball, sharing many similarities to the National Pastime.
The game is played between two teams, each consisting of either 9 or 10 players on each team, depending on the batting order. Most of the playing rules mirror those of baseball, with the main exception being centered on pitching. The pitcher must throw underhand, and unlike baseball, they pitch from flat ground as opposed to a mound.
Aside from this, the main difference between the sports is the size and density of the ball. It is significantly larger and softer than a baseball, limiting its flight and the speed that players can throw and hit it.
Due to this, softball games are more centered on putting the ball in play as opposed to hitting for power. It’s also played on a much smaller field, with shorter base paths. The game is quicker and often more action-packed than baseball. Skills such as slap-hitting are unique to softball and are very common as alternate methods to get on base.
Like baseball, every player must develop a variety of skills to succeed. Everyone hits, fields and runs the bases. Softball players also require good communication skills, working as one.
To develop these skills, players must practice regularly and receive qualified and experienced coaching. With dedication and hard work, any player can develop the skills necessary to be successful in softball.
Whether your goal is to play recreationally or compete at the highest levels, softball is a great choice.
The 5 most important skills when playing Softball
Like baseball, the softball catching position is key to a winning team. .
Contrary to popular belief, catchers are often the most athletic players on the diamond. They must possess skills like strength, good hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes, and a quality throwing arm. It is almost the most physically-demanding position.
Catchers are often the captain’s of their teams. They need to be leaders on the field, orchestrate the pitching strategy and align the defense. These are learned softball skills, where proper instruction is essential.
As in baseball, throwing is a key part of a defense’s prevention of runs.
Due to the smaller dimensions of the field and basepaths, often getting a throw off quickly is as or more important in softball than in baseball. This takes quick-twitch muscle memory, concentration, and poise. These are softball skills honed by repetition and game experience. Limiting throwing errors keeps hitters off base and helps limit pitch counts for your pitcher.
Throwing skills are easily practiced and will most certainly improve your ability.
- Practice, practice, practice. The more you throw, the stronger and more accurate your arm will become. This will build confidence and allow you to play more positions.
- Technique. Make sure you are using the proper throwing mechanics to get the most out of your natural ability.
- Accuracy. Arm strength is a great asset but, like a pitcher, if you can’t control where it goes you can’t be successful. This is a softball skill that’s learned with proper coaching and grows with confidence.
Every player on a softball roster, save for a designated hitter, must be able to field effectively in all phases of defense. You must have the softball skills to throw and catch the ball,as well as field ground balls, fly balls and line drives of varying speeds and trajectories.
Proper footwork, positioning and anticipation are fielding skills that are essential and can be improved with good coaching and repetition.
Squaring up a pitch and driving it into the field is a thrilling, yet very difficult softball skill to have.
Every player (except possibly the pitcher) gets their turn to square off one-on-one with the pitcher. This is a very unique dynamic in team sports. Therefore, every player has the chance to significantly impact the game every time up. Hence, all players must possess the hitting skills necessary to be successful.
Hitting skills include, hand-eye coordination, balance, quick hands, pitch recognition and strength. All softball skills require heavy repetition, but none more so than hitting. No two pitchers, or individual pitches, are the same. Plus, the pitcher knows what’s coming and the hitter does not. A good offense is spurred by consistent contact and getting on base, neither of which can be done without proper hitting skills.
5. Base Running
Due to less reliance on the power side of hitting, baserunning is essential to a successful softball offense. Quickness, speed, angles, and anticipation are all key base running skills. Runners must also be cognizant of the game situation, score, and the skills of the opposing defense to properly take advantage of scoring opportunities.
Like baseball, pitching is the most important softball skill on any given day. One could argue the starting pitcher is the most important position in all of team sports for any individual game. Softball pitching skills take years to hone and require quality coaching and mentorship.
Although consisting of complicated intricacies, and many moving parts within a game, softball is pretty simple. Score more runs than your opponent. Pitching is the most important softball skill in preventing runs.
You must have sound, repeatable mechanics, flexibility, athleticism, and arm strength. All of these pitching skills work together to produce an effective pitch arsenal and command, and also to provide durability over a game or course of a season, and to prevent injury.
A pitcher must possess a strong and balanced lower half to gain drive to the plate and consistent timing. A loose and compact upper body helps a pitcher maintain direction and the ability to finish her delivery.
The 5 most important Softball Batting Skills
Softball pitches are thrown from a shorter distance than in baseball, with the hitter only having a split second to read the pitch type and location, get into position to hit, and make contact. This cannot be done without proper timing. This hitting skill can be improved with a good base and minimum body movement in your load.
2. Pre-Pitch Mechanics
The hitting skills here center around putting your body in the best position to be successful. The hands, hips and lower half must all work in unison to properly recognize and attack the pitch.
Repetition is paramount to putting yourself in the best position to hit. Once the proper muscle memory is established, the hitter can more easily focus on the task at hand instead of worrying if their body is in the proper position.
As mentioned, hitting skills require the whole body working in unison. Load refers to getting the maximum amount of drive and force into your swing using your lower half, while the hands/arms stay in proper position. The more force your lower half produces, the more bat speed you will possess and subsequently the harder you will hit the ball. Load is a hitting skill that also can provide a proper timing mechanism for the hitter.
4. Contact and Follow-Through
Once in the swinging motion, the job at hand now is to make solid contact on the meat of the bat. This contact, and subsequent follow-through, can depend on what type of pitch is thrown, and in what location. Inside pitches require the hitter to keep their hand inside the balls and get the bat through the zone.
Outside pitches require you to stay on the ball with your eyes, keep your hands back and guide the ball to the opposite field. These hitting skills can be accomplished with heavy repetition – in batting practice, tee work and of course game action.
5. Slap-Hitting and Bunting (Little Game)
The Little Game (or Small Ball as it’s known in baseball) is more prevalent in softball due to the size of the field and base paths. The skill of slap hitting is used when the main focus is just to put the ball in play, often guiding the ball to specific parts of the field for a particular purpose. The hitter actually starts running to first base while still swinging at the pitch. Bunting is used most often to sacrifice their at-bat in order to advance the runners on base.
Instead of swinging the bat, the hitter squares to the pitcher and simply lets the ball hit the bat to produce a slow, short ground ball. Bunting for a hit is also a very common softball skill, placing more emphasis on bunt location and getting out of the box quickly.
Our experienced coaches will help you develop the softball skills necessary to be successful, as well as the batting skills required to excel at the plate. Area Scouts provides unique and professional instruction for athletes to practice and hone their softball skills and become the best players that can be.
Contact us today and get started!
Frequently Asked Questions:
There are several key skills that players need to master. First and foremost, softball is a batting game, so players need to have strong hitting skills. They also must field the ball cleanly and make accurate throws to their teammates. In addition, base running is an important part of softball, so players need to be able to run swiftly and make smart decisions on the basepaths. Finally, it’s also essential for players to have a good understanding of the game itself and know how to put themselves in a position to help their team win strategically. By honing these essential skills, players can become key contributors to any softball team.
Some qualities that make a good softball player include physical strength and athleticism, the ability to strategize and think quickly, good hand-eye coordination, discipline and determination, teamwork skills, and a positive attitude.
Some factors that make a good softball hitter include strong hand-eye coordination, the ability to read pitches and anticipate where they will be thrown, proper mechanics and technique, and the mental ability to stay focused and confident at the plate. Consistent practice and refining these skills are also important for a good hitter.
One way to improve your softball skills is by practicing regularly. This can include practicing batting, throwing, and fielding with a teammate or on your own. Additionally, watching professional or experienced players can provide insight into technique and strategy. Seeking feedback from coaches or more experienced players can also help identify areas for improvement and provide guidance on how to address them. Joining a league or attending camps or clinics can also offer opportunities for growth and skill development.
The most important skill in softball is the ability to hit consistently. Without the ability to hit, a team cannot score runs and ultimately cannot win games. Additionally, hitting requires a combination of hand-eye coordination, strength, and technique, making it a challenging skill to master.