What to Expect in Each Division
Instructional I Division (6U) – Ages 4-6
The Instructional I Division covers teaching the following:
- How to put a glove on
- How to properly wear a helmet
- How to hold a bat (left & right handed)
- How to stand in the batter’s box (left & right handed)
- How to play catch with your teammates encouraging catching the ball with two hands
- Learning the positions on the field
- How to put on catcher’s gear
- How to run the bases
- When to run to the next base
- Tee and basic instruction on how to hit the ball off of the tee
- Introduce coach pitch
- Teach athletes to throw the ball to first base right after they receive it in the field
Instructional II Division (8U) – Ages 6-8
The Instructional II Division covers teaching the following:
- Understanding each position (name and location)
- Encourage athletes to catch the ball with two hands
- Learn how to hold the ball correctly with three fingers on top
- Learn the basic batting stance with knees bent, knuckles aligned, and elbows down
- Learn the basic fielding position with knees bent, bottom down, glove down, “down and ready”
- Introduce the triangle drill with feet shoulder-width apart, glove and hands pointed directly in front of the belly button and on the ground
- Learn proper throwing mechanics with elbows up, “C” faces away, and glove turned and tucked into the chest
- Introduce sliding using cardboard or sliding mat
- Practice batting off of a tee, playing “Squish the bug” and encouraging players to use their legs for strength
- Introduce coach pitch from 25-30 feet away
- Introduce league rules
Minors Division (10U) – Ages 9-11
The Minors Division covers teaching the following:
- Continuation of proper throwing, including proper grip, good wrist snap, and tucking the glove
- Athlete’s throwing should aim for partner’s chest
- Proper set-up on bases
- How to steal bases
- How to round the bases
- Introduction to sliding
- Teaching outfield to back up every play
- Throws to first plate
- Ground balls to infield
- Encourage athletes to charge the ball
- Introduce bunting
- Routine ground ball/pop fly skills should begin to develop
- Introduce plays at second base
- Pitchers learn to control their pitches
- Catchers will focus on blocking the ball and making throws to second base
Majors Division (12U) – Ages 11-13
The Majors Division covers teaching the following:
- Continuation of proper throwing including proper grip, a good wrist snap, and tucking the glove
- Infielders will learn to back-hand ground balls
- Outfielders will learn angles to the ball
- All athletes will learn how to drop step
- Hitters will begin to learn consistent hitting drills
- Focused footwork/agility drills
- Catchers will focus on receiving the ball/framing
- Defense will learn double plays.
- Offense will learn how to tag up on fly balls
- Pitchers will develop control of their pitches and begin to pick up speed
- Outfield learn multiple ways of fielding a ground ball
- Relays to the plate and positional movement
Seniors Division (18U) – Ages 14-18
- Infielders learn how to throw on the run
- Infielders learn cut off positioning
- Infield will learn how to defend first and third plays
- Pitchers and Catchers will learn cut off positioning
- Outfield will understand situations and prevent runner from advancing to the next base
- Offense will focus on advancing runners. (hit and run, squeeze plays, delayed steals, steals, pressure on the defense)
- Offense will continue to develop strength and swing mechanics
- Runners will learn first and third plays
- Pitchers will continue to strengthen and command each pitch
- Catchers will learn to take control in relays, first/third plays, delayed steals, and all plays to the plate
- Athletes will get comfortable diving and sliding on offense and defense
- Endurance/Conditioning exercise added to practice plan
The Essential Softball Gear Guide for Beginners
Softball is a popular game that requires the right equipment to play. From bats and balls to helmets and gloves, there are a variety of basic softball equipment pieces that are necessary for players to have in order to participate in the sport. In this section, we will explore the basics of softball equipment and its uses, so you can make sure you have all the necessary items before playing your first game.
Softball Bats: How to Choose the Right One for You
Choosing the correct softball bat involves considering several factors.
The Darlington Girls Softball League plays by USA/ASA rules (the rules will be slightly modified by age group). As a general rule, all fast-pitch softball bats must have a 2 1/4-inch barrel diameter and must not be over 34 inches in length and 31 1/2 oz in weight. Bats must also be marked with the USA/ASA Certified stamp.
Here are some steps to help you make an informed decision when shopping for a new bat:
- League Regulations: Determine the rules and regulations set by our league regarding bat specifications. This includes factors such as weight, length, barrel diameter, and certification stamps.
- Player’s Age and Skill Level: Consider the age and skill level of the player. Younger players may require lighter bats, while more experienced players may benefit from heavier bats for increased power and distance.
- Bat Material: Softball bats are typically made of aluminum, composite, or hybrid materials. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages. Aluminum bats are durable and provide a more consistent performance, while composite bats offer better trampoline effect and reduced vibration. Hybrid bats combine both materials for a balanced performance.
- Length and Weight: The ideal length and weight of the bat depend on the player’s size, strength, and personal preference. Generally, a longer bat provides more reach, while a shorter bat offers better bat control. The weight should be manageable, allowing the player to swing the bat comfortably and generate good bat speed. If your daughter is between 3’ to 3’4”, start with a 26-inch bat, and increase the bat size by 1 inch for every 4-to-5 inches that she grows. Make sure to measure her height with cleats on. Compare the height of the bat to her height. Stand a bat up next to your daughter. It should not exceed her hip. If it reaches past her hip area, it’s going to be too long to swing. Another approach to determining proper bat length is to weigh your daughter. As a general rule, if she is under 60 pounds, she should swing a bat between 26 and 29 inches long. If she weighs more than 70 pounds, her bat should range from 28 to 32 inches in length.
- Swing Speed: Consider the player’s swing speed. Players with slower swing speeds may benefit from a lighter bat to increase their bat speed, while players with faster swing speeds may prefer a slightly heavier bat for more power.
- Grip and Feel: The grip and feel of the bat are crucial for comfort and control. Make sure the handle has a comfortable grip that suits your preference. Some bats have specialized grip technologies to reduce vibration and improve feel upon contact.
- Try It Out: Whenever possible, try swinging different bats to assess how they feel and perform. Many sporting goods stores have batting cages or areas where you can test bats before making a purchase. This hands-on experience can help you make a more informed decision.
- Seek Recommendations: Consult with coaches, experienced players, or knowledgeable staff at sporting goods stores. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on their expertise and experience.
Remember that choosing the right bat is a personal decision, and what works for one player may not work for another. Take your time, consider the factors mentioned above, and select a bat that feels comfortable, suits your style of play, and complies with league regulations.
Softballs Mitts and Gloves – What’s the Difference?
Choosing the right softball glove is essential for fielding and catching the ball effectively. Here are some steps to help you select the appropriate softball glove:
- Determine the Glove Type: Softball gloves come in various types, including infielder gloves, outfielder gloves, first baseman gloves, catcher’s mitts, and utility gloves. Each type is designed to meet the specific needs of different positions on the field. Consider the position you will be playing to narrow down your options.
- Glove Size: The glove size is determined by measuring the distance from the top of the index finger to the heel of the glove. Sizes typically range from 9 to 14 inches for softball gloves although younger players may require smaller sizes. The glove should have a snug fit, allowing you to control and secure the ball comfortably.
- Webbing: The webbing on a softball glove plays a role in ball control and visibility. Common web types include closed, open, and modified webs. Closed webs provide more support and concealment, making them ideal for infielders. Open webs allow better visibility and are popular among outfielders. Modified webs offer a balance between support and visibility.
- Material: Softball gloves are usually made from leather or synthetic materials. Leather gloves are more durable and offer better performance over time as they break in and mold to your hand. Synthetic gloves are typically more affordable, require less break-in time, and can be used right away. Consider your budget and preferences when selecting the material.
- Fit and Comfort: Try on different gloves to find one that feels comfortable on your hand. Ensure that the glove allows for proper finger movement and flexibility. Look for adjustable wrist straps or laces to achieve a secure fit.
- Brand and Quality: Opt for gloves from reputable brands known for their quality and craftsmanship. Reliable brands often have a wider range of glove options and provide better durability and performance.
- Seek Recommendations: Consult with coaches, experienced players, or knowledgeable staff at sporting goods stores. They can offer valuable insights and recommend gloves that are suitable for your position, skill level, and preferences.
- Break-in Process: Keep in mind that new gloves may require a break-in period to optimize their performance. Breaking in a glove involves conditioning the leather, shaping the pocket, and making it more flexible. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions or research specific techniques for breaking in your chosen glove.
Remember that choosing the right softball glove is a personal decision. It’s important to find a glove that fits well, offers the appropriate features for your position, and feels comfortable during gameplay.
What are the Other Necessary Gear and Equipment to Play Softball?
In addition to a bat and glove, there are several other pieces of equipment necessary to play youth softball. Here are some essential items:
- Softball: You will need softballs specifically designed for youth softball. The size and material of the ball may vary depending on the age group and league regulations. Although the league provides all balls for practices and games, we recommend purchasing a few so your daughter can practice at home on her own time, if she so chooses.
- Helmet: A helmet is crucial to protect the player’s head while batting and running the bases. Look for helmets that meet safety standards and provide a secure fit. Our league requires helmets that come with face masks for added protection.
- Cleats: Softball cleats have specialized soles with traction to provide grip on the field. They are designed to enhance stability and prevent slipping during gameplay. Choose cleats that are comfortable and suitable for the playing surface (e.g., metal cleats for dirt fields and rubber cleats for turf).
- Protective Gear: Depending on the player’s position and personal preference, additional protective gear may be necessary. This can include items such as a catcher’s helmet, chest protector, shin guards, and a protective face guard/mask. Face guards are required in our league. Catcher’s gear (excluding mitts) are provided by the league.
- Uniform or Team Apparel: Our softball league requires players to wear a team uniform or specific team apparel during games. This typically includes a jersey or shirt with the player’s assigned number (provided by the league), as well as matching pants or shorts. Tee Ball and Instructional Divisions must wear gray baseball pants. Girls in Minors, Majors, and Senior Divisions must wear black baseball pants. Check with your team manager for other uniform requirements.
- Batting Gloves: Batting gloves can provide a better grip on the bat, reduce vibration, and protect the hands from blisters. They are optional but can enhance a player’s comfort and performance at the plate.
- Batting Tee: A batting tee is a helpful tool for practicing hitting. It allows players to work on their swing mechanics and develop better hand-eye coordination. A portable and adjustable batting tee is recommended for individual practice sessions at home.
- Equipment Bag: An equipment bag helps organize and transport all the necessary gear to and from games and practices. Look for a durable and spacious bag that can accommodate your equipment and keep it organized.
It’s important to note that specific equipment requirements may vary depending on the league, age group, and level of play. It’s always a good idea to check with your coach or league officials for any additional equipment guidelines or recommendations.
Some non-essential softball gear your daughter may want to carry in her bag:
- Hair elastics
- Eye black
- Water bottle
Where is The Best Place to Buy All Your Softball Gear?
When it comes to buying softball equipment, there are several options available both online and offline. Here are some popular places to consider:
- Sporting Goods Stores: Visit local sporting goods stores, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, as they typically have a wide selection of softball equipment. You can try out the gear in person and get expert advice from staff members.
- Online Retailers: Many online retailers specialize in sporting goods and offer a vast selection of softball equipment. Websites like Amazon, eBay, and Sports Unlimited are popular choices. They provide a wide range of options, competitive prices, and customer reviews to help you make an informed decision.
- Manufacturer Websites: Visit the official websites of popular softball equipment manufacturers like Easton, Louisville Slugger, Mizuno, or Rawlings. These websites often offer the latest products, exclusive deals, and detailed product information.
- Local Sporting Events: Keep an eye out for local softball tournaments or events in your area. Many vendors set up booths at these events, offering a range of softball equipment. This can be a great opportunity to see and try out different gear while supporting the local softball community.
Remember to compare prices, read customer reviews, and consider factors such as quality, durability, and brand reputation when making your purchasing decision.