Softball In The Backyard

Softball is, think baseball but with a bigger ball, and that’s softball. The ball that you use in baseball is around 9 inches while the ball in softball is either 11 or 12 inches. Funny enough, it’s called “softball” even though the ball that you used now is nowhere as soft as it was during the early 1920s. The ball that you use today is hard. Maybe, it should be called hardball.

Jokes aside, there are multiple differences between baseball and softball such as in softball, the size of the field, the equipment used, and of course, the strategies that you use. Here are the main differences:

  1. In softball, the base-paths are 60 feet apart while in baseball, the base-paths are 90 feet apart.
  2. The outfield fences in softball are typically shorter, ranging from 200 feet to 220 feet. In baseball, it’s closer to 300 to 400 footwalls.
  3. Due to the size of the field being smaller (seven innings instead of the typical nine innings in baseball), the games are usually faster with less recovery time for the players.
  4. The bats that you used are shorter and wider that are made out of either aluminum or wood.

Now, in this article we will go into more details about softball, how do you play, what do you use, how bigs should my backyard be, and many more. And just in case, you’re curious, the objective of the game is the same as with any sport – there are two teams, that play against each other with the one team attempting to score more runs (points) than the other. Whichever team scores more, wins the game.

How Do You Play Softball

Softball Basics: The Ball

The way you hold a softball is the same way you hold a baseball except that in softball, you use all 5 fingers to actually cup the ball compared to baseball where you use only three fingers (pointing, middle, and thumb). The positioning of the fingers is the same, follow the linings or stitching, with your right ring finger and pinky as additional support or leverage than simply turn your pitching hand.

And yes, you are required to throw underhand in softball. It’s in the official rules book (source, source) the underhand throw helps you stabilize and control the softball when you pitch. The idea is you cup (underhand) the ball in softball while in baseball, you hold (overhand) it. Now, please note that unless this is an official, league game. It’s not necessary for you to throw an underhand. If you want to throw overhands and sidearms, go for it. Have fun. Now,

Softball Basics: How Many Can Play

The teams are usually composed of 9 players per team; there’s a pitcher, a catcher, four infielders, and three outfielders. Of course, this depends on the game itself meaning casual or competitive (league), some games can have more players with usually a maximum of 12 players per team.

Softball Basics: What Age Can I Play

Anybody who is agile and can run – that would be anyone who is 9 years old and above but ideally, someone over 16 or a young adult, around 21 to 27 years old. Now, in theory, anybody who is strong, healthy, and fast can definitely play softball. But if you’re over 50, yes, you can still play but you’ll just play a bit slower and less competitive. Just focus on having fun. It is still recommended that you wear proper, protective gear especially a helmet.

Softball Basics: What Do I Focus On

Number #1 – The ball, always the ball. Focus on the ball.

Number #2 – The positions of your opponents (base runners).

Number #3 – The positions of your teammates; the last thing you want is to bump into your other teammates.

Softball Basics: How Big Must My Backyard Be

The standard size of a softball field is 220 to 240 feet with a home run wall or fence of a distance of about 220-300 feet from the home plate. Now, unless, you have a really, really big backyard. Here’s what we’ll do, we’ll divide the “240 feet” by 4 and how many can play:

  • 80 feet backyard space: 2 – 6 players per team | level: casual fun
  • The distance of each plate, from one another, is 20 feet apart
  • 160 feet backyard space: 6 – 9 players per team | level: challenging
  • The distance of each plate, from one another, is 40 feet apart
  • 240 feet backyard space: 9 – 11 players per team | level: competitive
  • The distance of each plate, from one another, is 60 feet apart

In theory, if you have a big enough field, you can play with over 22 players but we suggest you divide it into two games as a kind of elimination match or mini-tournament. If you happen to have more than 9 players, the additional players would play as rovers. Now, of course, if you only have a small backyard and you have tons of friends, adjust the playing style to the size of the field and bend the rules, have fun.

Softball Basics: The Rules

If you want to know the whole, entire rulebook here’s are a couple of sources for you (source, source) but if you want the most commonly used rules in softball than here’s a quick list:

  • Your team may consist of 9 players and yes, the teams can be composed of mixed genders
  • Each team must have their own catcher, a player, a pitcher on 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, shortstop as well as having 3 deep fielders (right, center, and left fielders)
  • Each team will bat once, in each inning, before the teams switch
  • Each game will only last for 7 innings that is divided into two sections, the bottom and top of the innings
  • Scores are given to you after your batter has successfully struck the softball and ran all the way from 1st base to 2nd base to eventually your batter reaches the home plate. Score
  • If your batter successfully strikes the softball into the dead ball zone or over the outfield, score


  • Home Run: any softball that actually goes over your outfield line or fence.
  • Umpire: an umpire is your judge that decides on game-play, outcomes, and make decisions. There will always be an umpire at the home play and additional umpires can be positioned in the outfield and infield.
  • Home Plate: the home plate is the five-sided whitened rubber where the batter will stand beside to try and hit the pitch.
  • Batter’s Box: this is your chalk-marked demarcation meaning your batter must stay within this box while batting. Your battery is not allowed outside this chalk-marked box. As a batter, you are not allowed to step outside of your chalk-marked box.
  • Pitcher’s Mound: also known as the Pitcher’s Circle, this is where the pitcher will stand. It’s located about 30 feet from the Batter’s Box, think of it as being in the middle of your diamond-shaped field.
  • Fielder: is one of any of your opponent’s team members meaning she or could be a pitcher, catcher, right fielder, shortstop, and so on.
  • Rover: a rover is essentially an extra player who will play exclusively or be positioned in the outfield. She or he may move around the designated outfield area where the Rover will either play the Center Field, Right Field, or somewhere between the Center Field and Left Field.

Softball Basics: How To



The game starts when both teams have taken their respective positions. Each team will have 9 players, your backyard or field will be divided into two parts, an infield and an outfield. Imagine your backyard or playing field is a big diamond, and at each point is where a base will be located. Each base will 60 feet (or wider or relevant to the space of your backyard) apart from each other.

To score a run, a player must hit the ball between the foul lines and run across the three bases and back to home. A hit outside these lines will be considered as a foul ball and the batter is not allowed to run.

The essence of the game is between the pitcher of one team against the batter of the other team. In Softball, the pitcher will stand on a flat surface and must throw the bigger, softer ball, underarm. As mentioned before, the batter’s job is to hit the ball between the foul lines but the pitcher’s job is to get the batter out by throwing into the strike zone.

The strike zone is an imaginary box that’s the width of the home plate and roughly between the batter’s armpits and knees. Please take note:

  1. If the pitcher throws the ball through this area – it’s a strike.
  2. If the batter swings and missed any softball, it is also a strike.
  3. If the batter does hit the ball outside the foul lines, it can either be a 1st or 2nd strike.
  4. And yes, three strikes and you’re out. Very similar to baseball.
  5. A pitch outside this area is called a ball. Four balls against the batter and they get to walk to first base.

This all sounds simple enough but there are 3 other ways for a team to get you out. Please take note that once 3 outs have been made, their half of the inning is over and the other team gets the bat:

  1. If the batter hits the ball along the ground, the opposing team can throw the ball, to the base they’re running to. if the ball beats the batter to the base – they’re thrown or forced out.
  2. A batter can be tagged out while running between two bases.
  3. If they hit the ball and the ball is caught in the air by the opposing team – they’re out.

Once both teams have batted, this is known as an inning. The game is played over 7 innings. There are no ties in softball, so if the score is tied after 7 innings, extra innings will be played to determine the winner.

Important to Remember

  • Home Run: if a batter hits the ball out of the park between the foul lines, the batter and anyone standing on the bases gets to walk freely around the bases and back to home.
  • Stealing Bases: to help move the batters along the base, some players will try and make a run for the next base. Now, this is a risky gamble because the opposing team will be prepared for this, and will try and get you out. If the batter is caught out, they’re caught stealing.
  • Tagging Up: if the ball is caught in the air, any players standing on the bases must start from that base before running for the next one.
  • Double Play: this is where the ball is hit in play and the defending team gets two outs, usually by way of throwing to one base and then another.
  • Pitching: as a pitcher, you must be on the Pitcher’s Mound or Rubber with both feet and you can only take 1 step forward during your pitch with the ball thrown underhand – both of your hands must remain on the softball during the start of your pitch. Runners on base, cannot leave their base until the pitcher has released the ball. Only on 1st base can a runner overrun all other bases, the runner may be tagged or be called “out” if the runner is off the base.

Softball Basics: Player Positions and Play Styles

  • Pitcher: a pitcher is a player who throws the softball, with the intent to enter the strike zone. She or he will wind up their pitching arm clockwise or counter-clockwise if the pitcher is left-handed. The goal is for the pitcher to strike out the batter(s) with her or his attempts at underarm pitches.
  • Catcher: a catcher is a player who wears additional padding and a helmet for protection. She or he is responsible for catching all unruly and wild pitches and throws from their fellow infielders and outfielders who are attempting to stop a base runner or throw out.
  • First Base Player: will be positioned on the left side of first base, your role here is to field softballs in towards your direction or first base.
  • Second Base Player: you will be located between the 2nd base and 1st base player, your role here is to receive throws from other teammates who are attempting to stop or throw out a runner(s) heading towards you or 2nd base. Any pop-up softball hits and/or fielding ground balls within your 2nd base vicinity are also part of your role.
  • Third Base Player: you are located on the left side of 3rd base, your role here is to catch any throws from fellow teammates or field softball hits – all in an attempt to stop and/or throw out base runners especially running towards your direction or base.
  • Shortstop: the shortstop position is where a player is located between the 3rd and 2nd base. To help me better remember what position a shortstop plays is by calling shortstop players as the in-betweens. Duties and roles are the same as other players, catch softball hits or throws to stop, throw out, or tag base runners.
  • Rover: a “buck short” or rover is a player that plays exclusively out the infield often between 2nd and 1st base. Roles and duties are the same as any standard player.
  • Outfield: is a player positioned on the outfield either as a Right Field, Left Field, or Center Field. There are usually three outfield players responsible for ground balls, fielding line drives, fly balls, and of course, getting the softball back to the infield players to stop base runners.

What Equipment is Required for Softball

There are a number of required equipment for Softball such as aluminum or wooden bats, gloves, face mask, leather gloves, and of course, protective gear such as a batting helmet, protective chest covering, shin guard, and many more. To keep this simple, we’ll make a list with an explanation of what each piece of equipment does for you.

Softball Bats

Made of either aluminum or wood, softball bats are shorter but wider. Often you’ll have two bats with you, one for practice with a pitching machine and one for the actual game. An example of this is the Zeno 33” Louisville Sluggers.

These are the ones we recommend for this particular gear:

Softball Gloves & Mitts

A glove or mitt is used to protect your hand from getting broken as well as helping you catch the massive softball better. An example of that is a 12” Rawlings glove or an 11.75” Wilson A2000.

These are the ones we recommend for this particular gear:

Softball Batting Gloves

Batting gloves protect you from scratches, blisters, and many others. Batting gloves also help you grip the bat better. A fantastic, example of batting gloves is Mizuno’s. Based on a long-time softball player, “these things are like the Terminator, okay? These things are hardcore. I have had these for many seasons, they haven’t ripped once. I’ve had Nikey’s before, and they just rip. Rip right to pieces.”

These are the ones we recommend for this particular gear:

Softball Batting Helmets

A batting helmet is a must in softball. The last thing you want to experience is a broken nose. There are a lot of strong, durable batting helmets in the market. An example would be an EvoShield Senior or even an Easton Gametime.

These are the ones we recommend for this particular gear:

Softball Apparel & Uniforms

If you’re looking for a solid part of pants, that hold up under tension. Mizuno is a great choice. And for jerseys, Holloway.

These are the ones we recommend for this particular gear:

Softball Cleats

Cleats are the shoes that you wear for softball. What makes cleats necessary in softball is that it not only helps you grip the ground but also helps you in quick acceleration. A good, affordable pair of cleats are New Balance cleats, fantastic for people with wide feet.

These are the ones we recommend for this particular gear:

Softball Protective Gear

When you’re up to bat, you wouldn’t expect it but you can and will most probably get hit in the elbow, and oh yes, it will hurt. A lot! A fantastic protective gear for this would be the EVO shield. The EVO shield can also be used as a wrist guard, this will prevent you from breaking a bone in your palm in the event that you were hit by a pitch and you tried to block it with your hand.

Please note that other equipment as part of softball’s protective gear such as:

  • A chest pad or protection
  • A fielder’s faceguard
  • A batter’s pad or protection

These are the ones we recommend for this particular gear:

Softball Catcher’s Equipment

A catcher may just have the most dangerous or injury-prone role in softball and as such, you are required to wear proper gear. The catcher’s set is composed of:

  • A helmet
  • A chest protector
  • Leg guards
  • Catcher’s Mitts

Good products are from brands like Easton, All-Star, and especially Mizuno. These are the ones we recommend for this particular gear:

Conclusion: Softball in the Backyard

By now, you would have learned how softball works. The rules of softball. The equipment needed along with how big a softball backyard should be or small it can be and how many players can play softball. It’s a game that can be played by anyone healthy, strong, and agile.

Softball is one of the best games to play in your backyard and even in an official league as unlike baseball, the sense of community is stronger. Of course, sports will always be sports but softcore is such a team sport that you can’t help but create positive memories and long-lasting friendships.

Oh, and just in case, you forget, please wear sunscreen, not only for protection against the sun but also, most players and spectators agree that getting burned especially on your face, “it’s not a great look.” And chapstick.

If you any questions, you need further assistance or clarification, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to help you with your pursuits in softball.

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