From the interior construction to the exterior casing, each piece of the ball serves an important purpose.
DICK'S PRO TIP: Optic yellow is the official ball color in competitive softball play. The speed of the game and condensed field size compared to baseball make visbility extra important!
COMPRESSION & COR RATING
Slowpitch softball varies from Fastpitch - and each style of play will have different ball requirements on size, COR and Compression.
Your league will set standards on COR and Compression Ratings that you must look for when making your purchase.
DICK'S PRO TIP: Wondering what a ball stamped with RIF means? RIF or Reduced Injury Factor balls, typically used in practice settings, have a softer core and may come in a reduced weights. They perform like regular balls, bouncing and rolling true to expectations, but help soften the structure of a baseball to aid youngsters in overcoming their fear of being hit.
SIZE | BUYING FOR YOUR AGE/LEAGUE
Unlike baseballs which are all the same size and weight, softballs come in a variety of sizes and weights depending on your league and age.
The league you’re in will determine which size softball is appropriate for play. Generally, competitive league softballs range from 10″to 12″, while some slowpitch city leagues can use softballs as large as 16″.
DICK'S PRO TIP: Need more help buying tee ball gear? Visit our tee ball Buying Guide HERE.
DICK'S PRO TIP: The age cutoff for the 11" fastpitch ball is usually age 10. Most players will graduate to a 12" size when they hit age 11, but check with your league rules!
DICK'S PRO TIP: Different organizations, clubs and adult rec leagues might use specialty balls measuring as large as 14″ and 16″. Check your league requirements before making your purchase!
WHATS WITH ALL THE STAMPS?
Looking at a softball is at times like looking at a wall of graffiti. There are a number of different designs, stamps and measurements found on the leather canvas, but all of them are important to keep in mind.
Naturally, you will notice the brand name and logo, but the next design that shares prominence is the certification/league logo (or a combination of two).
Players should pay close attention to this, as each league, including USA (formerly known as ASA), USSSA, Little League, NFHS (High School) or NCAA (College), has specific standards set for ball size, compression and COR.
These stamps are helpful when identifying league-approved equipment, but always check with a league official or coach to confirm which softballs are cleared for use.