Style Differences in Slow-Pitch and Fast-Pitch Softball
William D. Jones, MD, practices occupational and preventive medicine in Oklahoma City, OK, where he treats patients. In his free time, William D. Jones, MD, of OK plays slow-pitch softball on two adult league teams.
Also known as lob-ball, slow-pitch softball began growing in popularity in the US during the early 1950s. It differs from fast-pitched softball in a number of ways, although much of the difference lies in the style of pitching and speed of the throw to the batter. In fast-pitch softball, the pitcher’s arm makes a full 360-degree rotation during the throw, called a full-windmill pitch. The ball travels in a linear path at approximately 60 miles per hour.
Slow-pitch softball involves a “half-windmill” or half-circle throw from the pitcher’s mound, which is 50 feet from home plate. In a fast-pitch game, the distance between the mound and home plate can range between 35 and 45 feet, depending on the players’ ages.
A slow-pitch softball must travel in a 6- to 12-foot arc to home plate. Pitchers typically attempt to arc the ball so that it falls perpendicular to the ground, as this often limits the speed and power behind the swing.
The slow-pitch batter can only miss two strikes before receiving a call of “out,” but the strikeout is not as much of a priority as it is in fast-pitch. The more common goal is to get the ball into play and rely on the defense to achieve an “out.”