What Equipment should you have for Softball?
When your daughter is ready to play softball, one of the first things you might be wondering is what equipment will you need to be safe and ready for the playing field. Even the youngest players who are learning to play t-ball need a few pieces of equipment.
In most cases, new softball players will need the following:
- face mask
- batting helmet
Many teams will supply these bats, and helmet but each player is normally responsible for their own glove, and cleats/shoes.
In this article we look at other things you may not be thinking of along with equipment geared more towards players as they age and gain more experience.
Equipment for Younger Players and Beginners
Other than the main items outlined in the beginning, young softball players can wear comfortable athletic clothes like tee shirts, joggers, and athletic socks. Children who play on Little League or other community teams usually get a team shirt with a hat or visor. Most community teams provide batting helmets and bats, too.
Young softball players do not need the most expensive bats or gloves. As young players learn the game, they should have a bat and glove that they enjoy using, even if the equipment is pink, neon yellow, or blue. Small bats and gloves can be purchased for under $30 each. In the earliest years of the game, softball players can get away with using baseball gloves, especially since most young players are just learning to catch.
More on Footwear
Unless your community softball organization has turf fields, your young player will need cleats.
Since softball seasons are relatively short for young players, many community softball leagues have collections of used cleats. Otherwise, cleats are readily available at big box stores and sporting goods stores and kids’ sizes are much less expensive that women’s sizes. Girls’ cleats can be purchased for under $20. Some girls like to wear long socks with their cleats and while those aren’t required for softball, they are easy to find and low in price – usually under $5 for a pair.
If you buy any used equipment for young players, cleats are the best choice. Ball players like to have their own gloves, especially since the inside starts to fit to the hand that uses it the most. Used bats might have cracks or problems that new bats won’t have.
Softball players often wear protective face masks. Since the softball field is so much smaller than a baseball field, girls are more likely to be hit in the face by a flying softball than boys are with baseballs.
It is becoming commonplace for softball organizations to require certain position players to wear masks, so it is wise to get young players used to wearing them as soon as possible. These cost around $25 and they can save a softball player’s life if she is hit in the face with a ball.
Travel Ball Softball Equipment
Once your daughter decides that she enjoys softball and wants to keep playing, then it’s time to start investing in higher quality equipment. It isn’t unheard of for children between 8 and 10 years of age to begin playing travel softball. If your daughter is ready to play at a more competitive level, then you will need to buy more equipment.
Even at the young ages of 8 to 10, teams have matching equipment – from the helmets to the cleats and everything in between. Most girls choose their favorite gloves and bats. Some get to choose their cleats, too. It is more important than ever before that your daughter also become comfortable wearing a face mask, especially if she play an infield position or she pitches.
Equipment for Games and Practice
When you get to travel-ball levels of play, your daughter will need to have gear to wear to practice and games.
Practice gear usually includes softball pants, socks in the team colors, and a team shirt. Some teams are too picky about what top, but most coaches like their teams to wear softball pants and socks. If practice is in an indoor facility, your daughter will need turf shoes. If she pitches, you will want to buy her turf shoes with pitching toes.
Every girl on a travel team will need her own gear bag, helmet, uniform, cleats, bat, and glove. Most teams require each player to pay a fee that covers the cost of the uniform, gear bag, and helmet.
Uniforms usually include one or two pairs of softball pants, one to three jerseys, a belt, and a few pairs of socks. Sometimes the fee includes practice shirts and cleats, too. At this young age, girls will only need molded cleats. They don’t get to wear metal cleats until they get closer to high school age.
More Expensive Costs
At this point in your daughter’s softball career, she’s probably not quite ready for bats that cost $300 and up, but she’s not too far away from it either. No matter what bat you buy, keep the receipt and items like stickers or packaging material that came with it because if anything happens to it within a year of purchase, you should be able to use the warranty to get a replacement.
At the earliest ages of travel ball, you can expect to pay under $50 for cleats (unless your daughter wears adult sizes in shoes). You can expect to pay at least $75 for a bat and $40 for a glove. Since most girls at this age are not yet specializing (unless they are pitchers or catchers), any type of glove will do. The uniforms will vary based on the team’s expectations.
Middle School and High School Ball
At this point, if your daughter is still playing, she will need specific gear for her position. During middle school and high school, all levels of playing become more competitive and gear becomes more specialized. Pitchers need special cleats with protective pitching toes, catchers need the full set of gear, and position players need specialized gloves. Most girls at this point will also need a pair of metal cleats.
Bats with more “Pop”
Players in upper levels of softball want the bat with the most “pop” and these cost around $300. However, there are usually sales on the bats, especially at the end of the season when the new models are released.
While it can be tempting to buy the lower priced, sale models, there are times when it is not recommended. Unfortunately, some leagues change their lists of allowed bats and older models might not have the newest technology. Before you spend hundreds on new bats, be sure that it is labeled for your daughter’s league and tournaments in which she will be playing.
When you buy bats for your daughter, keep all of the packaging material and your receipt. Even though softball bats are expensive, they do break. And, if the break happens while the bat is under warranty, you should be able to get a replacement, but only if you have your receipt and the packaging material.
Most bat manufacturers will only replace bats if they have been purchased from a legitimate store, like a local sporting goods store, or from an official online retailer.
When it comes to gloves, players need special ones, too.
First basemen need larger gloves, while outfielders and middle infielders need smaller ones. Softball players cannot play with baseball gloves because the pockets on baseball gloves are significantly smaller. Gloves are not as expensive as bats and they last much longer. Softball players will not share their gloves with other players.
When girls reach middle school and high school, gone are the days when they will play with a glove in a pretty color. They will want gloves that look like what their favorite players wear, so check out collegiate softball players and the gear they use. Most softball gloves look just like baseball gloves in typical leather colors like black and brown. White gloves are popular and there are companies that will customize colors, so you can get glove leather that matches your daughter’s travel team colors or school colors. You can also have laces in custom colors, too.
Gloves start around $50, but the customized and mitts can have $300 price tags, too.
Batting Gloves and Sliding Mitts
Most teens who play softball also want batting gloves.
These are usually around $20 to $30 and will last at least one season. Girls tend to find a brand that they like. These come in several sizes so they fit all hands. Batting gloves come in white and black, but they often have accent colors that coordinate with team colors. Some girls will wear both batting gloves when they are at the plate and they will keep one on to wear under their gloves for an added layer of comfort.
Girls who play in middle and high school will see faster pitching. It is commonplace for girls to be hit by pitches and elbows tend to be commonly hit spots. So, you might want to buy your daughter an elbow guard. These come in a variety of prices, starting around $30 and up to $80. The best elbow guards are designed to be custom fit from the convenience of your home.
If your daughter likes to steal bases and does belly slides, you might also consider buying her a sliding mitt. These are not readily available in sporting goods stores and have to be ordered online and can cost over $100 each. But, ballplayers have been known to break fingers and wrists sliding into the bases, so these gloves are helpful.
The Importance of Face Masks
This is the age when girls start to think they don’t need to wear face masks, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth!
Middle school and high school players see the fastest pitching yet, which means they also see balls with high exit velocity, too. Girls can also throw the ball at high rates of speed, too.
Getting hit in the face with a softball can result in broken eye sockets and jaws and even brain damage. Every pitcher and girls in the infield should wear a face mask. If she argues and says that college coaches don’t want girls to wear masks, she is wrong. Women playing in the NCAA College Softball World Series wear masks!