Softball Basic Rules & Tips: What are the Hardest Positions in Softball

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Softball Basic Rules & Tips: What are the Hardest Positions in Softball

12 minute read

Learn everything you need to know about softball positions, how to play the game, and what you need to get started.

Softball is a really exciting and interesting sport. If you want to become a great softball player, you’ll have to learn the roles and responsibilities of each position, the rules in the game, and drills to get better at the game. Great softball players aren’t born – they’re made.

Softball positions may seem really complicated when you’re just learning the sport and starting out, but once you learn them, they are actually very simple. While each position may differ, they all contribute to the success of the team. This article explains each position, the responsibilities of each position, and what you need to get started playing and succeeding in softball.

What are the 10 positions in softball?

There are 9 main positions in softball, and 10 when you count the pinch hitter/pinch runner. Each position is important to the game. While one position may seem more difficult or important than the others, the truth of the matter is simple: it takes all positions working together to be successful in softball.

  • Pitchers

  • Catchers

  • First Basemen

  • Second Basemen

  • Shortstop

  • Third Basemen

  • Left Fielder

  • Center Fielder

  • Right Fielder

  • Pinch Hitter/Pinch Runner (more of a role than one of the nine main positions)

What is the Most Important Position in Softball?

The short answer?

They all are.

It’s hard to say what the most important position is in softball. It’s often argued that the most important position is the one that the ball is hit to at a given time, meaning that every position is important.

Shortstops get the most balls, making them valuable players on the team. But without the pitcher and the catcher, there wouldn’t be a game. Right fielders are invaluable when a ball gets to the right field, just as left fielders are invaluable when a ball goes to left field. The same goes for first, second, and third baseman.

So at the end of the day – there isn’t one position that is more important than the others!

What are the Best Positions in Softball?

All 9 softball positions are great! It's hard to say one is better than the other because each of the positions require serious skill sets and help the team be successful. Of course, people will have opinions on what the best position is, but keep in mind that whatever you’re assigned to is your best position. It was chosen for your particular skill set, so be proud of whatever position that you play!

What are the Worst Positions in Softball?

It’s hard to say there is a “worst” position in softball. It takes all players to be successful. Teamwork makes the dream work. If you didn’t score your favorite or desired position, understand that the one you are playing is still very valuable to the team.

What is the Easiest Position in Softball?

Though every position is valuable and takes a lot of work, one of the easiest positions in softball is the right field –at least at the younger levels. This is because youth players don’t often hit the ball very far in the air. Furthermore, over 80% of all softball players are right handed. This means that fewer balls go to the opposite field (which would be right field for a right-handed hitter).

What is the Hardest Position to Play in Softball?

The answer to this question will probably vary based on who you ask. It’s hard to say exactly which position is hardest, but pitching and being a shortstop are some of the most difficult positions in softball. Pitching controls the whole game, basically. It’s one of the most high pressure and important offensive positions in softball.

Some may say shortstop is one of the hardest positions because a majority of the balls will make their way to them, making it a tough defensive position!

No matter what position you play, there are difficult aspects of them. Each position comes with a lot of responsibility, both as an individual player and as a teammate. Don’t get hung up on who has the “most important” job. It takes all players to make it work and to make the team great.

What is a shortstop in softball?

Shortstop is a fielding position between second and third base. It's often considered one of the most demanding defensive positions. Shortstops are often good hitters and are at the top of the lineup. More hit balls go to the shortstop than to any other positions. This is because there are far more right- handed softball players, and hitters typically pull the ball slightly and balls typically end up on the left side of the field.

No matter which position that you play, they’re all difficult in their own right. Each position can be a lot of pressure and each player has a great deal of responsibility.

Softball Positions and Responsibilities

Each position has its own responsibilities, roles, and strengths.

Pitchers.

Pitchers are in control of the entire pace of the game. There are certain responsibilities, skills, and demands of a pitcher.

  • Must be able to handle pressure and be able to bounce back from failure. Pitchers can’t get in their head, or they’ll end up pitching an awful game.

  • They have to have great mechanics and strength

  • Pitchers must have a good feel for the ball and bitching

  • Be able to maintain focus

  • Have repeatable athletic skill and pitching delivery.

  • Be a team player and have good leadership skills.

Catchers.

The catchers have a very demanding role both mentally and physically. Catchers have several responsibilities. They have to be able to catch all pitches and throw to 2nd and 3rd bases to prevent runners from stealing bags.

  • The catcher must be able to control and anticipate the pitcher.

  • Must be mentally strong

  • Catchers must be physically strong to squat and block in the heat.

  • Catchers must have strong legs and strong arms

  • Must have excellent receiving techniques

  • Fast footwork and blocking are some critical skills for a softball catcher

First Baseman.

First baseman have several responsibilities. These players are powerhitters and must also have strong defensive skills.

  • The biggest responsibility first basemen have is to be a power hitter.

  • Must be able to read throws very well to get outs on every possible throw she can from other infielders

  • Must have strength and be mentally in the game

  • First basemen must have fantastic instincts and great reflexes since the line drives to first base.

Second Baseman.

Second baseman have the responsibility of being a great defensive player.

  • The second baseman covers second base to get base runners out, can cover first base in certain situations, and make double plays with the first baseman.

  • Must be quick and agile

  • Should be a skilled contact hitter

  • Needs to have an adequate throwing arm

  • Have great intuition and understand the game very well

Shortstop.

The shortstop has a lot of responsibility. Considered the captain of the infield, this player leads communication and takes charge on balls hit into the field.

  • Players in this position must have terrific glove skills

  • Must have agility and excellent range

  • Should have excellent arm strength

  • Must have strong defensive ability

  • Must have above average leadership skills

  • Players must have great field vision, be intuitive, and understand players’ movements.

Third Baseman.

This position has to have strong offensive and defensive skills. With a skillset similar to shortstops, this position has to have strong power hitting as well.

  • Third baseman must have a very strong arm to make long throws across the diamond of the field.

  • Must have a lot of confidence and not be afraid of the ball since line drives are fast

  • Should be one of the best power hitters on the team

Left Fielder.

The left fielder is a position that must have excellent outfield defense and fielding skills.

  • Left fielders must have good speed

  • Typically one of the strongest hitters

  • Must have excellent glove skills

  • Should have strong fielding skills.

Center Fielder.

The center fielder has a lot of responsibility as it’s the most demanding outfield position. There is a ton of ground to cover, so this defensive position is very important.

  • Center field requires a ton of speed

  • Players in this position must have accurate fly ball reading ability

  • Must have a strong arm

  • Be a great base runner

Right Fielder.

Right fielders may be considered one of the easier positions, but they still have responsibility and must have strong skills.

  • In youth softball, this player sees fewer fly balls due to having more right-handed players and players not being able to hit as far out

  • Must have good speed

  • Should have some power with a good arm

What Your Softball Position Says About You

No matter what your position is, it says something about you.

If you don’t get the position that you love, that’s okay. You might switch later, or you may find that you really enjoy the position you’ve been assigned to.

Remember, the coaches have so much more experience than you. They can clearly see your strengths and weaknesses, which can be difficult for young players to realize or accept. No matter what position you play, you’re playing the game. If you give it your all, try your best, and put in great effort and teamwork, you’re on your way to being an excellent player.

For you to be a dedicated softball player, you’re probably strong, fast, and agile. You are more than likely coachable, optimistic, enthusiastic about the game, and a team player.

What Makes a Good Softball Player?

Being a great softball player is more than just being able to pitch, or hit, or catch well. It’s such a multi-faceted sport that requires a wide range of skills, both physical, and mental.

Physical Qualities

  • Strength. A talented softball player must be strong to be able to handle long and strenuous training, practicing, and playing.

  • Coordination. Softball players have to be able to have strong coordination and have a feel for the ball.

  • Agility.  This means that player responses are quick and accurate.

  • Speed.  You don’t have to be the fastest player on the team, but you have to be able to have a good hustle to compete with other players.

Mental Qualities

  • Determination. Softball players must have determination to get through long training sessions and to try their best- even when losing or having an off day.

  • Optimism. A good softball player always has positivity, even when things get tough.

  • Coachable. Players must be coachable, remain open minded and respectful, and listen to the coach’s advice.

  • Confidence. A good player always has confidence in her abilities because she knows she deserves to be there and has worked hard to earn her spot on the team.

  • Strong Ethics. Most people don’t think about this when considering the qualities needed for a good softball player. To be successful, a good player must know her responsibilities, commitments, and give respect to all players, including the opposing team.

  • A Team Player. Softball is not a single-person sport. No matter how good you think you are, you are still one member of the team. A good player works well with her teammates.

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How Do You Train for Softball at Home?

Good softball players know they need to practice and train regularly. Practicing at home allows players to improve their skills outside of practice time. This allows players to work on individual skills and become a better player.

There are a couple different softball drills that can be done at home with simple household items.

Drill #1: Hand Drills and Arm Strength

Being a good player means having a strong throwing arm for both throwing and being able to hit. An easy drill for this only requires a wall or a net. Simply throw the ball at the wall or net. This allows you to practice short hops, ground balls, and more. Doing so repeatedly will improve arm strength and motion. This drill is incredibly versatile. Even if there is no wall, you can use a tennis ball in the garage. You can really get creative with this to make it work for you.

Drill #2: Take Cuts

This is a very simple drill for softball players. They will only need a bat and a mirror to see how full cuts look in person. This can improve stance, the swing, and intuitiveness. This is key to developing a strong and consistent swing. This can be done over 3 different times a day for about 10 to 20 swings at a time, depending on level and skill set.

Workout at Home

You can workout at home in a variety of ways. There are tons of ways to increase strength, speed, and stamina. Overall good health and conditioning is a way to not only improve your athleticism, but your softball skills as well. Simply running around and playing outside will help you or your player become more athletic.

For older players who are cleared for conditioning, there are a ton of ways to stay in shape at home.

You can try several things, working with what you already have:

  • Dumbbells or arm weights

  • Treadmill

  • Exercise bike

  • Other cardio machines

  • Exercise Ball

  • YouTube videos or other streaming services that offer exercise videos.

What Equipment is Used in Softball?

Finding the right equipment is key in softball. Finding high quality, durable equipment is so important to being able to play softball safely and effectively.

What are 5 pieces of equipment used in softball?

There are 5 major pieces of equipment used in softball. This includes:

  • A ball. A ball is obviously a very needed piece of equipment in softball. Having high quality softballs (and lots of extras!) is critical to the game.

  • A bat. Having a high quality bat is critical for softball. A good softball bat promotes great all around performance and increased speed and control.

  • Gloves. Gloves are very important for all positions in softball. Having the right glove is imperative for maximum possibility of both making the throw and fielding the ball correctly. High quality gloves allow for more accuracy and help you improve your softball game.

  • Uniforms. Having a high quality and comfortable uniform will allow your team to play in style. Softball players are truly professional athletes, and they should look the part!

  • Protective gear. This includes helmets, shin guards, and a chest protector for a defensive catcher, as well as helmets for the offensive team. Having the right protective equipment is so important, as it prevents injuries and makes sure that everyone stays safe while playing softball.

That’s a lot of equipment to lug around! Having a high quality softball bag or backpack is imperative to keeping all of your equipment organized and ready to go for practices and game day alike.

The Basic Rules of Softball

Understanding softball can be complicated at first. Don’t worry though - it’s really easy to learn and catch on with time, focus and dedicated practice. The more you play and the more you watch, the more you’ll understand the game.

The basic rules of softball are that members of one team take turns batting the ball while the other team tries to get the batter out by striking the batter out, catching the batted ball, tagging the batter out, or getting the ball and touching a base before the hitter/runner gets to that base.

Each team gets 3 outs per inning and there are 7 innings in the game. The player scores a run by getting around all 4 of the bases, which are 60 feet apart.

Here are a few other basic rules of softball:

Hitting Rules:

  • A strike is called for each pitched ball that is legal and the hitter misses or for each foul tip. The batter is not out if the tip is on the third strike.

  • A fair ball is when it lands in fair territory between 1st and 3rd base or lands on any of the bases except for home base.

  • A foul ball is called when it settles on foul ground outside of 1st and 3rd or behind home plate; when the ball is chopped or bunted downward; when a fly ball is legally caught; when the batter interferes with the catcher

Base Running:

  • All bases must be touched in order by the runner

  • Runners move as quickly as possible to each base

  • Don't overrun 2nd or 3rd base. You must stop on the actual base

  • You can’t steal a base. You must not leave base until the batter hits the ball.

  • If a fly ball is caught, the base runner must tag the last base they were at.

Tips for Improving Your Softball Game

One thing that's awesome about softball is there is always something to learn! Players who want to remain competitive can always learn something new and push themselves to be both better individual players and better teammates.

Make a Plan - Before the Ball is Even Pitched

This may seem silly- after all, you aren’t a mind reader! But making a quick mental plan before the action starts and the ball is in play can go a long way! If the ball flies to you, you have to catch it, but knowing what you’ll do next can save a lot of time!

Think about where you’ll throw the ball, what you’ll do, how you’ll cover teammates, and more. Catching on the fly makes you a great player, but planning out execution can really elevate your game.

Have Confidence in Your Swing

Don’t second guess your swing. Thinking about switching how you’re holding your bat or your stance in the heat of the moment is problematic because you’ll probably end up in your head and with a worse stance than you started with.

Stick with what you have practiced and don’t just wing it. Keep your fundamentals- bat shouldered, weight centered, feet shoulder width apart, and do not experiment during a game, camp, or clinic.

Watch The Ball

Keep your eye on the ball is the most overused and cliche advice you've probably heard – but only because it’s that important. Don’t glance around at the bases or outfield or anything that isn’t the ball. Even if you’re an experienced hitter, don’t let your eyes roam. Keep your eyes on the ball and then figure out the rest.

Touch Every Base

This is the most important tip for baserunning. You can’t get credit for making a base if you don’t touch it. You’d be surprised how many runners forget this. Make contact with the base so you aren’t running for nothing!


Always Pay Attention

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it really is important! You have to be deliberate with your intentions and constantly pay attention. It’s easy for your mind to wander when you’re playing, especially if you go through entire innings without getting much action. Letting yourself lose focus is the single best way to make errors, so pay attention to what you’re doing and you’ll be a better softball player for it!

Implement all of these tips and you’ll be on your way to being a great player. Remember, practice makes perfect. You can keep all the tips you want in your mind, but it takes action to make it work. The stress of the game, long innings, and physical and mental work can make the details difficult. Practice and train hard, though, and it’ll become second nature to you!

Fun Fact About Softball

Do you know what was the fastest softball pitch?

The fastest softball pitch ever recorded was 77mph, thrown by Monica Abbott on June 16, 2012 in a game for the Chicago Bandits versus the Carolina Diamonds in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Practice your own hitting and maybe one day you’ll have the fastest softball pitch!

Conclusion

Softball is a fantastic sport! The awesome thing about softball is that there’s always something to learn! When you’re first starting out at softball, it can be confusing, but the more you play and watch the game, the easier understanding the rules and positions will be.

When you take the time to learn each position, and you actually get to practice in different positions, you’ll quickly learn what your strengths and weaknesses are. Every position is difficult in it’s own right. When you find out who you are as a softball player, you’ll be able to learn how to improve and grow as a player, team mate and person.

Regardless of what position you play, you can take advantage of the softball tips listed in this article to become a better player. Whether you’re a pitcher or a right fielder or anything in between, you’ve got to constantly learn and grow.

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