What Is Fastpitch Softball? Everything You Need to Know

Last updated on August 29, 2023

If you’re new to the world of softball, you may be wondering what fastpitch softball is all about. Fastpitch softball is a type of softball that is played with a smaller ball and a smaller diamond. Unlike slowpitch softball, fastpitch requires more skill and athleticism, making it more challenging and exciting to play.

Fastpitch softball is played primarily by women, and it’s considered the most competitive form of softball. It’s the format played at the Olympic Games. This type of softball requires more strategy and quick thinking, as well as a higher level of physical fitness and skill.

What is Fastpitch Softball?

The game is played on a smaller diamond and with a smaller ball than slowpitch softball. The pitcher throws the ball underhand from a distance of 43 feet The ball can reach speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, making it challenging for the batter to hit.

Fastpitch softball is played in various formats, including high school, college, and professional leagues. It is also played internationally, with the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) hosting a World Cup and World Championship for women’s fastpitch softball.

The History of Fastpitch Softball

softball pitcher throwing

Let’s look at the early beginnings of the sport, how it grew in popularity, and the modern era of fastpitch softball.

Early Beginnings

Fastpitch softball has its roots in the late 19th century when softball was first played in Chicago. The sport was originally called indoor baseball and was played with a broomstick and a ball made of India rubber. Over the years, the game evolved, and fastpitch softball became its own distinct sport, with its own set of rules and regulations.

Growing Popularity

Fastpitch softball became a very popular sport in the US during the ’30s and ’40s. Commercial and semi-pro leagues sprang up all over the country in large cities and small towns alike. Both men’s and women’s leagues were popular and it was not unusual for both to be playing on the same night in a “double-header.”

In 1953, slowpitch softball was recognized officially when it was added to the ASA (now USA Softball) softball program. Today, the International Softball Federation (ISF) has 124 member federations and organizes world championship competitions in all versions of softball: slow pitch, fast pitch, and modified pitch.

Modern Era

Fastpitch softball is still a popular sport today, with millions of players around the world. The sport has continued to evolve over the years, with new rules and regulations being introduced to make the game safer and more enjoyable for players of all ages and skill levels.

One of the most significant changes to the sport in recent years has been the introduction of technology. Today, many fastpitch softball players use specialized gloves, bats, and other equipment that is designed to help them perform at their best.

Overall, the history of fastpitch softball is a rich and fascinating one that is still being written today. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of the sport or a newcomer just starting out, there’s always something new to learn about this exciting and dynamic game.

The Basics of Fastpitch Softball

a girl throwing a softball


Pitching is a crucial aspect of fastpitch softball. The pitcher stands on the pitching mound, which is located in the center of the diamond, and throws the ball to the batter. The pitcher must deliver the ball with an underhand motion and must release the ball before their foot leaves the pitching rubber. The pitcher can throw a variety of pitches, including a fastball, changeup, rise ball, and drop ball. Each pitch has its own unique movement and speed, making it difficult for the batter to hit.


Hitting is another important aspect of fastpitch softball. The batter stands in the batter’s box, which is located at home plate, and attempts to hit the ball thrown by the pitcher. The goal is to hit the ball into fair territory and reach base safely. The batter can hit the ball using a variety of techniques, including a slap hit, bunt, or power swing. It is essential to have good hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes to be a successful hitter in fastpitch softball.


Fielding is the final aspect of fastpitch softball. The defensive team must work together to prevent the opposing team from scoring runs. The field is divided into different positions, including pitcher, catcher, infielders, and outfielders. Each position has its own unique responsibilities, and it is essential to have good communication and teamwork to be successful. The defensive team must catch the ball, throw the ball accurately, and make quick decisions to prevent the opposing team from scoring.

Fastpitch Softball Leagues and Tournaments

softball team and coach on a diamond

Youth Leagues

If you’re a young softball player, you have plenty of options to play fastpitch softball. Youth leagues are available for kids as young as five years old. These leagues often have different age divisions, allowing players to compete against others of similar age and skill level. Youth leagues focus on skill development, teamwork, and sportsmanship.

High School and College Leagues

High school and college fastpitch softball leagues are highly competitive. These leagues often have strict rules and regulations, and players must meet certain eligibility requirements to participate. High school and college leagues offer players the opportunity to showcase their skills and potentially earn scholarships to play at the collegiate level.

Professional Leagues

Professional fastpitch softball leagues are becoming more popular, offering players the opportunity to make a living playing the sport they love. The Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) league is the premier professional league in the United States, featuring some of the best fastpitch softball players in the world.

National and International Tournaments

Fastpitch softball tournaments are held throughout the year, both nationally and internationally. These tournaments bring together teams from different leagues and divisions to compete for top honors. Some of the most prestigious tournaments include the Women’s College World Series, the USA Softball National Championships, and the Olympic Games. In conclusion, fastpitch softball leagues and tournaments offer players of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to compete and improve their skills. Whether you’re a young player just starting out or a seasoned professional, there’s a league or tournament out there for you.

Benefits of Playing Fastpitch Softball

Physical Health Benefits

Playing fastpitch softball is a great way to stay active and improve your physical health. It is a high-intensity sport that requires a lot of running, throwing, and hitting, which can help you burn calories and build muscle. Running back and forth between bases can improve your cardiovascular endurance, while throwing and hitting can strengthen your upper body and core muscles.

Mental Health Benefits

Fastpitch softball can also have positive effects on your mental health. It can help reduce stress and anxiety by providing an outlet for physical activity and social interaction. The focus and concentration required to play the game can also improve your cognitive function and mental agility. Additionally, the sense of accomplishment that comes with mastering a new skill or winning a game can boost your self-esteem and confidence.

Social Benefits

Playing fastpitch softball is a great way to make new friends and build social connections. It is a team sport that requires communication and collaboration, which can help you develop strong bonds with your teammates. Many players continue to play together in slow-pitch tournaments even after high school, which can lead to lifelong friendships. Additionally, participating in team sports can teach valuable life skills such as leadership, teamwork, and sportsmanship.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re new to fastpitch softball, you may have some questions about the sport. Here are some frequently asked questions:

What is the difference between softball and fastpitch?

Softball is a sport that is similar to baseball. However, the ball used in softball is larger than the one used in baseball, and the field is smaller. Fastpitch softball is a form of softball that is played by both women and men. The biggest difference between slowpitch and fastpitch softball is the speed at which the pitcher throws the ball. In fastpitch, the ball is thrown at a higher speed, making it more challenging for the batter to hit.

What is the difference between fastpitch and baseball?

While baseball and fastpitch softball are similar in many ways, there are some key differences. For example, the ball used in fastpitch softball is larger than the one used in baseball. Additionally, the pitcher in fastpitch softball throws the ball underhand, while in baseball, the pitcher throws overhand. Another significant difference is the size of the field. Fastpitch softball fields are typically smaller than baseball fields.

Is fastpitch only for girls?

While fastpitch softball is often associated with girls and women, it is a sport that can be played by anyone. Both men and women can participate in fastpitch softball.

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