Softball Equipment

Fastpitch Softball Equipment

As with any sport, girls fastpitch softball has a lot of available equipment.  Some your player actually needs and some is just nice to have.  As your athlete moves up in levels you will most likely keep adding to her inventory of softball equipment.  It really never stops unfortunately for the wallet. The nice thing is though you don’t have to go out and buy all the gear at once. You can add a little bit of softball equipment at a time as your athlete advances in skill level or outgrows the old gear. Make sure to take this in account when making your budget and planning for the softball season.

Softball Equipment for the Beginner

If this is your first or second season in fastpitch softball and your player is in a C level Rec ball league then please don’t go out and spend $500 on equipment to get her started. Once you see whether she really enjoys the sport and has an aptitude for it then you can decide whether to invest more money in the gear she will need. Until then the basic, entry-level equipment is fine. If you can find some of the softball gear used that’s even better.  Save your money for B league or travel softball when it will better serve your athlete.

The Basics

Not all leagues at all levels require a facemask on the batting helmets but to me it is non-negotiable.  If the girl moves up in levels it will eventually be required so you might as well start her off with it so she doesn’t need to adjust her batting later to compensate for the addition of a mask.  It is also just a whole lot safer.  In a lot of leagues starting with the 8U division the girls are pitching.  See here for average softball pitch speeds by age but do you really want a 7 or 8 year old, fairly inexperienced girl, throwing a ball at your player’s face without the protection of a facemask?

Optional equipment for Beginning Softball Players

Often the team will have a few bats and since this is the single most expensive piece of equipment in softball you might hold off on purchasing one. Once you are ready to purchase one make sure you get the right size and weight bat for your player. Read more about picking out a fastpitch softball bat here.

Softball Equipment for the Intermediate Player

This would include players who have played softball for a few seasons or who are moving up to a B league or playing on all stars.  You still need the basics: glove, helmet with mask and cleats.  In addition each girl should now have her own:

If you are a pitcher or catcher then you will have some extra gear. 

Pitchers Gear

Catcher’s Gear

A catcher has equipment needs all her own in addition to the regular equipment.  At this level you may still be using team equipment or you may have invested in your athlete’s own catchers gear. Again, you can often find this used.

Catcher’s gear includes:

Some catchers also like to use knee savers.  This is a wedge shaped foam pad that hooks behind the catcher’s knees that they can “rest” on when in the catching stance.  My personal opinion on these is they could prevent your catcher from developing as she should.  She needs to be able to move quickly and when she is resting on knee savers she is not as ready to pop up as she could be.  Some people swear by them though so it is up to you and the coach whether to get these or not.

Bats

This is the level where you may start investing in a better bat for your athlete. I say investing because good ones START at about $80 and go up from there. There is much debate over composite vs aluminum but ultimately it’s a decision each athlete needs to make about what they feel comfortable swinging. If at all possible, try to let your player test it out before you make the purchase. I’ve known people to spend $400 on a bat that their daughter absolutely hated. If you don’t have that as an option do as much research on the one you are interested in before you purchase it.  Visit our list of the best fastpitch softball bats out right now, ask around what other softball players on their team are using and ask the coaches what they recommend. Don’t sink what amounts to an average car payment into something without doing a little research first. Read more about how to choose the right softball bat.

Face Masks for Fielders

At about the B league or 10/12U level you’ll start seeing a lot of infielders and some outfielders wearing face masks.  These are becoming more and more common and I believe are a great addition to the safety of the game.  I also believe they should be non-negotiable gear for pitchers.  She is the player most vulnerable to being hit in the face with a line drive. She is less than 40 feet away from the bat when it makes contact with the  softball.  Even the most athletic girl can have trouble getting a glove up or ducking when a ball comes zooming back at her face.

I’ve seen too many cut lips, black eyes, broken glasses and chipped teeth that I’ve become a firm believer in face masks. I also feel like the protection it offers increases the girls’ confidence level.  One of the biggest fears in softball is being hit by the ball.  With that barrier to protect their face most players are less afraid and ready to go charging the ball or catching a pop fly.

Softball Equipment for the Advanced Player

This is for the experienced B league or Travel Ball player and above. In addition to all of the equipment already mentioned you may now need to look into adding a specialized glove for the position they are playing.  If you haven’t already you will need to invest in a great bat. One that your athlete feels comfortable with and can swing well.  She will also need really good cleats she can run well in. You may not be able to go to the local sporting goods store to find the best equipment so ask around and don’t forget the internet is a great place to find equipment, often at a discount from what you would pay in a sporting goods store.

By this level you have put hundreds if not thousands of dollars into your player and her softball equipment. I really like to make my player’s upgraded equipment something she has to work for or earn. Whether it is chores around the house, good grades or good performance on and off the softball field, I think if the player has a little skin in the game so to speak she will value and take better care of her softball equipment than if I just give her $300 worth of gear.

See a list of approximate prices for each equipment item here.

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