If you are new to the game, there is some basic information you need regarding the right softball equipment to choose. Whether you're playing a pick-up game with a few buddies or you are starting or joining an organized league, you'll want to make sure you have the correct gear.
The ball you will use is, of course, slightly larger than a regular baseball. However, there are different balls for men and women. Many coed leagues actually use different balls depending on whether a man or a woman is at bat. A smaller ball travels farther, so the pitcher will use the smaller one when a woman is hitting. When a man comes up, the pitcher will switch to the larger one. A regulation ball is yellow and 12 inches in diameter.
The bat is another essential piece of softball equipment. Bats used in most leagues are made of aluminum or other types of metals to make the ball come off faster. Hitters of lower skill levels have an easier time hitting a metal bat than a wood one. Regular bats have to pass stringent performance and safety standards. For example, the American Softball Association requires bats made after 2004 to not allow the ball to come off a bat at more than 98 miles per hour when hit.
There are other optional pieces of equipment that can help players perform better. Gloves aren't required, but they are basically a must in order to be able to catch the ball. Batting gloves provide a better grip and also help protect a hitter's hands. You'll also want to consider buying actual cleats instead of merely using tennis shoes when you play. They will help with traction in the field and will also help you keep from slipping when you run the bases. You'll also want to look into buying a helmet to protect you from injury. This is particularly important if you are playing catcher.
If you're a woman, you will probably want to have a sports bra to make sure you have the right type of support. Whichever type you choose, compression or encapsulated, the bra needs to allow you to move freely whenever you are throwing, catching, or fielding. Both men and women should also have sliding shorts to protect their legs and breathable shirts for when the weather is hot. Since you'll be getting a lot of softball equipment, you'll want to get a sturdy bag to put it all in. Find one with hooks so that you can hang it on a fence if needed.
Choosing the right softball equipment can help you not only perform better, but also stay as safe as possible when you're on the field.