Difference Between Slow-Pitch and Fast-Pitch Softball (With Table)

Slow-pitch softball mandates that pitchers have to throw the ball in a high arch within the range of 6-12 feet. The pitcher has to simply step forward and toss the ball underarm. The windmill technique is absent from such a pitching strategy.

The windmill pitching technique requires the fast-pitch softball players to throw the ball after winding their arm by spinning it around, before releasing the ball. This technique is known to conceal the actual throw of the player and hence adds a deceptive element as well as augments the speed of the ball.  This seminal dissimilarity references several other differences between the two base softball formats.

Slow-Pitch vs Fast-Pitch Softball

The difference between a slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball match is that the players in the former do not use the formidable windmill technique of pitching, while those in a fast-pitch softball match invariably use the windmill pitching technique.

Comparison Table Between Slow-pitch and Fast-pitch Softball

Parameters of ComparisonSlow-pitch SoftballFast-pitch Softball
Pitching techniqueThe classic windmill technique of pitching the ball is absent in a slow-pitch softball match.The windmill technique of pitching is indispensable in a fast-pitch softball event.
Speed of the BallThe speed of the ball is evidently slower than a fast-pitched one.The fast-pitched softball travels at an average speed higher than 50-60 mph, which is much higher than the speed of a slow-pitched ball.
Total Number of PlayersThe total number of players permitted in a slow-pitch softball match is 10.The total number of players permitted in a fast-pitch softball match is 9.
Total Number of InningsThe total number of innings permitted in a slow-pitch softball match is 7.The total number of innings permitted in a fast-pitch softball match is 9.
BuntingBunting is not allowed in a slow-pitch softball match.Bunting is an important element of all fast-pitch softball matches.
Stealing a BaseIn a slow-pitch softball match, players have to wait until the ball has made contact with the batter’s bat to steal a base.Fast-pitch softball allows the player to run as soon as the ball has left the pitcher’s hand.
FoulsA third strike foul ball indicates an out.Batters can have endless foul balls after 2 strikes.
Pressure for Securing a WinThe pressure for securing a victory in the game is placed upon the defense team.The pressure to win the game is placed upon the offensive team.

What is Slow-Pitch Softball?

There are several varying formats for playing a softball game. Slow-pitch softball is one of the easiest and most well-known versions of the game. From the 1950s onwards, slow-pitch softball began gaining momentum in the United States.

This version of the game requires the pitchers to underhandedly deliver the ball at a low average speed. A slow-pitch arch needs to range from at least 6 ft. to 12 ft. In case the requisite arch height is not maintained, the umpire can declare the pitch illegal.

The match is centered around the batter hitting the ball. Thus, a significant amount of pressure is maintained on the defense team. The rules of slow-pitch softball disqualify the bunting strategy. Bunting is an offensive strategy used in fast-pitch softball. As the teams that secure the fastest outs wins a slow-pitch match, bunting is irrelevant in the game.

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What is Fast-Pitch Softball?

Fast-pitch softball is another well-known variant of the same popular sport. In the context of the fast-pitch softball match, the onus of securing a win lies with the offensive team. The pitching technique used in the fast-pitch softball games is distinctively different from the slow-pitch ones.

The windmill motion which aids in building momentum is used in a fast-pitch softball match. The pitcher is required to wind his or her arm by spinning it around and then releasing the ball underarm. The speed of the ball is evidently enhanced. It is usually dispatched at an upward angle at a speed greater than 50-60 mph.

Bunting is a common strategy used by the batting team to secure a win. It involves the practice of deliberately restricting swing and contact with the pitch. This allows the players to hold the bat in the strike zone so that the ball hits it, however, without needing the player to effectively swing the bat. This strategy is a ‘sacrifice play’ as it allows a player to advance from one base to another at the cost of an out.  

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Main Differences Between Slow-Pitch and Fast-Pitch Softball

  1. The main difference between slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball is the pitching technique used by the players in each format. In the former variant of the game, the pitcher does not use a windmill motion when throwing the ball, while this distinctively characteristic windmill motion is indispensable in a fast-pitch softball match.
  2. In fast-pitch softball, the pitch speed is quite high. The ball is thrown at a speed greater than 50-60 mph. While in a slow-pitch match, the speed of the ball is much lesser. 
  3. There are 9 players involved in playing a fast-pitch softball match, while the total number of players allowed to play in a slow-pitch match is 10.
  4. The number of innings under each format is also different. In a fast-pitch softball match, the total number of innings is 9, while that in a slow-pitch match is 7.
  5. Different teams bear the pressure for securing a win in the different variants of the game. In the slow-pitch version, the onus lies with the defense team, while in the fast-pitch version the offensive team is responsible for securing a win.
  6. The rules for stealing bases under each are also different. While fast-pitch softball allows the player to run as soon as the ball has left the pitcher’s hand, this is not allowed under slow-pitch matches. In the latter event, players have to wait until the ball has made contact with the batter’s bat.
  7. Bunting is a striking process commonly used in fast-pitch softball matches. Bunting is not allowed in the slow-pitch softball matches.

Conclusion

Softball is one of the most popular sports played in the US. Slow-pitch and fast-pitch are two well-known variants of this renowned sport. These two versions have a few similarities in terms of their rules as well as the gears adorned by the players. However, the differences between the two remain quite conspicuous and undeniable.

The most striking dissimilarity is with regard to the pitching technique used by the players. The classic windmill technique is used by pitchers in the fast-pitch matches, while this technique remains absent from slow-pitch games. This consequently affects the speed of the ball, the arch requirements of the pitch as well as the striking strategies of the players.

Apart from this seminal difference, the two formats differ in terms of their statutory stipulations about bunting, the rules about the total permissible number of players and innings as well as their foul regulations.

References

  1. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/39/4/223.short
  2. https://esirc.emporia.edu/handle/123456789/1922
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Last update on 2021-04-29 / Amazon Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API