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Basic Softball Equipment and Gear

Ball: Softballs used for youth and high school levels are usually bright yellow, around 12 inches in circumference and weigh around 180-200 grams. They are not “soft,” as the name of the sport implies; rather, they are made of hard leather filled with cork, rubber and synthetic materials.

Glove/Mitt: Softball gloves are often larger than those used in baseball because the ball is bigger.  Most players choose to wear gloves, which differ from mitts in that they have individual fingers and less padding.  First basemen and catchers usually wear mitts with extra padding to catch balls thrown at higher speeds.

Bat: Youth softball bats are generally the same as youth baseball bats. They are made out of wood, aluminum or composite materials.  Adult softball bats, however, are generally longer with a smaller diameter, and the barrels are less stiff than their baseball counterparts.  The NCAA, in an effort to limit the performance of aluminum and composite bats, limits the weight to length  ratio of the bat. A bat must be as long (in inches) as it weighs (in ounces), and the weight cannot be any more than three ounces less than the number of inches it is long.  In appearance, softball bats have thinner, more tapered handles than baseball bats. Due to differences in the construction of baseballs and softballs, a baseball bat can be used adequately to play softball, but a softball bat will likely break if used to strike a baseball.

Batting Helmet: The most important piece of safety equipment in softball is the batting helmet.  Constructed of rigid durable plastic and foam, softball helmets help to distribute the forces of any ball that strikes the batter's head.  Differences between baseball and softball helmets include optional wire face guards and pony tail channels for female athletes.

Sliding Shorts and Sliders: Sliding shorts are padded upper thigh synthetic compression leggings that protect the athlete when sliding into a base.  Sliders resemble shin guards and protect the shin and calf from injury when sliding.

Catcher's Equipment: Softball catchers must wear helmets with face guards and throat protectors, body protection (chest protectors) and shin guards that reach up above the knees.  Failure to wear full body protection while catching can result in serious injuries.
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