Why Is a Softball Soft?

Last updated on June 14, 2023

Have you ever wondered why a softball is called a “softball” when it’s actually quite hard? Despite its name, a softball is not actually soft to the touch. In fact, it can be quite painful if it hits you in the wrong spot! So why is it called a softball?

The answer is actually quite simple. Softball, as a sport, was originally played with a ball that was soft to the touch. These early softballs were made from a variety of materials, including cloth and yarn. Over time, however, the ball used in the sport evolved, and the modern softball is now made from a combination of cork and rubber. While the outside of the ball may be hard, the core is typically made from a softer material, which is where the name “softball” comes from. Despite the fact that modern softballs are not actually soft, the name has stuck. Softball has become a popular sport worldwide, and the name “softball” has become synonymous with the game.

History of Softball

Softball is a sport that has been around for more than a century. It is a game that has evolved over time, and its roots can be traced back to Chicago in 1887. In this section, we’ll explore the origins of softball and the evolution of the modern game.

Origins of Softball

The game of softball was invented by George Hancock in 1887. Hancock was a reporter for the Chicago Board of Trade and a member of the Farragut Boat Club. One day, while waiting for the results of a Yale-Harvard football game, he came up with the idea of a new game. He tied a boxing glove into a ball shape, drew a diamond on the floor, and began to play a game that he called “indoor baseball.”

The first game of indoor baseball was played with a broomstick handle and a softball-sized ball. The game was an immediate hit, and it quickly spread to other parts of the country. The game was initially called “indoor baseball” or “kitten ball,” but it was eventually renamed “softball” in 1926 by Walter Hakanson at the National Recreation Congress.

Evolution of the Modern Game

Over time, the game of softball evolved to become what it is today. The first official rules of the game were established in 1889 by the Farragut Boat Club. The rules were later modified by the YMCA and the National Recreation Congress.

The earliest balls used in softball were not very soft. They were made of leather and were about the size of a grapefruit. The balls were later replaced by larger, softer balls made of rubber or cork. The Lemon Ball was a popular ball used in the early days of softball.

The game of softball continued to evolve over time. In the 1930s, the Joint Rules Committee of Softball standardized the rules and naming across the United States; shortly thereafter the is when they switched to the much harder style of ball you see in todays game. The game continued to grow in popularity, and by the 1950s, it had become an Olympic sport.

Today, softball is played by millions of people around the world. It is a sport that has come a long way since its humble beginnings in Chicago in 1887. Whether you’re playing in a recreational league or on a professional team, softball is a fun and exciting game that is enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels.

Softball on edge of dirt

Softball vs. Baseball

Is a softball really softer than a baseball?

Due to the differences in their core material and their sizes, the softball is technically softer than the baseball. However, this doesn’t mean that a softball is actually soft. The force used to compress the ball compared to the ball’s diameter makes the softball technically softer, but it is still very hard.

Another noticeable difference between softball and baseball is the density of the ball. Softballs are typically less dense than baseballs, which can affect the way they are thrown and hit. The size and density of the ball can also affect the way it travels through the air and how it bounces off surfaces.

Injuries and Safety

Softball is a sport that requires players to use a ball that is larger and softer than a baseball. However, despite its softer texture, the softball can still cause injuries to players. According to UPMC HealthBeat, pitchers are at risk of getting hit by a ball off the bat, which can cause severe injuries. To prevent these types of injuries, many fastpitch softball pitchers wear face shields and heart guards. Additionally, fielders are at risk of getting hit by line drives or pop-ups, which can cause concussions, broken bones, and other injuries. To prevent these types of injuries, it is important for fielders to wear protective gear, including helmets and face masks. Overall, while the softball may be softer than a baseball, it is still important for players to take precautions to prevent injuries caused by the ball itself.


In conclusion, the name “softball” is a misnomer, as the ball used in the game is anything but soft. Regardless of its name, softball has come a long way since its inception in the late 19th century. It has evolved into a popular participant sport, particularly in the United States, and has even been included in the Olympics. Its journey from indoor baseball to its current form has been a fascinating one, and it continues to evolve as new rules and technologies are introduced.

So the next time you’re playing a game of softball with your friends or family, watching a family member play, or just talking about it in casual conversation, remember the fascinating history behind the name and the game itself. And be sure to thank those who helped shape it into the beloved sport it is today.

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