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Safety Tips: Fastpitch Softball
Fastpitch softball is an exciting way to exercise and be part of a team.
Safe Fastpitch Gear
Wearing and using the right gear can help prevent injuries. Safety rules for most leagues include:
- Batting helmets must be worn whenever a player is at bat, waiting to bat, running the bases, or helping coaches at first or third base. Some leagues may even require pitchers to wear them. Helmets should cover both ears and have an approved face guard attached that fits comfortably. If the helmet has a chin strap, it should be fastened securely.
- Catchers should always wear helmets with face masks, throat guards, full-length chest protectors, shinguards, and catchers' mitts. Guys who play catcher should wear an athletic cup.
- Softball spikes should have molded plastic cleats rather than metal ones. Most youth leagues don't allow metal spikes.
Some players also like to wear:
- sliding pads or sliding pants to protect against scrapes and cuts
- batting gloves that can keep hands from getting sore while hitting
Check if your league has rules about which kinds of bats are OK to use.
Safe Fastpitch Practice
To prevent injuries during practice, players should:
- Get a sports physical before starting any new sport.
- Be in good shape before starting the season.
- Always warm up and stretch before practice and games.
- Use proper technique, especially when throwing or sliding.
- Stop training if they get hurt or feel pain. Players must get checked by an athletic trainer, coach, doctor, or nurse before going back on the field.
- Stay hydrated, particularly on hot, sunny days, by drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after games and practices.
- Knows the team plan for emergencies.
Too much pitching can lead to overuse injuries. To protect your arm, don't throw when you're tired, and follow pitch count guidelines. These are general guidelines for tournament play:
- Teens should pitch no more than 3 days in a row. Pitchers of all ages should then take 2 days off from throwing any pitches, in practices or games.
- Different leagues might have different restrictions on how many pitches a pitcher can throw in a game (including full-speed warm-up pitches). As a general rule:
- pitchers 13 and 14 years old: no more than 80 pitches per game, no more than 115 pitches per day on days 1 and 2, and no more than 80 on day 3
- pitchers 15 years and older: no more than 100 pitches per game, no more than 140 per day on days 1 and 2, and no more than 100 on day 3
- Teens should throw no more than 700 pitches per week, including games and practices.
- Pitchers who have pain that doesn't go away in their throwing arm should see a doctor and hold off on pitching until the pain goes away.
- All players should take at least 3 months off each year from sports that have a lot of overhead arm motion. Athletes who play multiple sports that use a lot of overhead arm movements — like softball, swimming, and volleyball — are at increased risk for overuse injuries.
All coaches should emphasize safe, fair play during games and practice. They need to make sure the field is in good condition and has breakaway bases (bases that are not fixed).
During games, players should:
- Follow all safety rules used during practice.
- Know the rules of the game and follow them.
- Be respectful of the referees and not argue with their calls.
- Stay calm if an opposing player collides with them or does something they disagree with. Don't take it personally. Let the referees handle the situation, and never start a fight with another player.
Reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date reviewed: March 2019