Whitchurch-Stouffville Softball Association: Getting the Right Gear
HOW TO SELECT A SOFTBALL GLOVE
Handling the ball well requires a properly sized glove. Glove size is measured by the distance in inches from the top of the glove index finger, through the inside of the pocket, to the bottom of the glove. Gloves range in size from 9 inches for small, youth players, to 14 inches for larger, adult players. Factors to determine the best glove size include age, playing position and individual fit. New gloves should be broken in before use to make them more flexible and easy to use.
Consider the player's age. Most gloves intended for younger players are designed for general use rather than being built for specific positions. This is because younger players are much more likely to play a wide range of positions instead of specializing in one area. Depending on the size of the player, particularly their hands, you may need a glove smaller or larger than the general age recommendations provided below.
Avoid buying a glove that is too large for a young player. While a larger glove may make it easier to catch balls, it prevents the player from developing proper fielding skills.
When a player gets older, more specialized gloves are available to suit the needs of specific positions. The more ground a position player has to cover, the larger their glove's spread usually is. Outfielders typically use larger gloves with deep pockets to help catch fly balls. Infielders perform better with a slightly smaller glove that allows for quick transfer from the glove to the throwing hand.
- Second base players tend to wear the smallest gloves, typically 11.75 inches
- Middle infielders, including pitchers, tend wear gloves between 12 and 12.5 inches
- Players who change positions frequently and may also be placed in the outfield tend to wear utility gloves measuring 12.75 to 13.25 inches
- Outfielders tend to wear gloves measuring 13.5 to 14 inches
Find a glove with the best fit. A glove that fits properly should allow for the full extension of the fingers, without running into obstruction from the padding. The glove should feel snug, but not tight over the palm area. Many times the wrist strap needs to be adjusted so that it fits snugly on the hand and wrist. You should be able to move the glove without it slipping around on the hand, and the glove should be easy to open and close.
Tips on Proper Softball Glove Sizing
How to Break in a Glove
Starting in 2013, all players in the U10 Mite Division and higher must have their own helmets with face guards (i.e., masks or cages) to be worn when on the diamond during games and when engaged in hitting practice. This decision aligns with a movement in Rep and Select levels to phase in masks over the past few years. The WSSA supports this initiative as player safety is our primary concern.
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HOW TO CHOOSE CLEATS FOR SOFTBALL
Softball cleats help players grip the ground more securely during games and practice. Cleats not only keep players safe by reducing falls and injuries, but also allow for improved performance. The WSSA does not require players to wear cleats but for safety, they are highly recommended. When choosing cleats for softball, you should consider such things as fit, cleat design, ankle support and stud length.
The WSSA only allows rubber or polyurethane cleats. Metal cleats have been banned in order to prevent injuries. The National Softball Association bans not only metal cleats, but any sports shoes with metal tips.
Try on cleats before buying them. Cleats may fit differently than your regular shoes, so don't buy based simply on size. Look for a snug fit and a shoe that doesn't pinch your toes. The cleats should feel lightweight enough so they won't interfere with your game. Get a feel for the level of cushioning in the sole to ensure that it is comfortable. For girls often the cleat selection is limited, so you may have to try boy’s cleats to find a good fit.
Try different styles of cleats to determine how much ankle support you'll need. High top models offer support for weak ankles, but may feel too heavy for younger or smaller players. Mid-height models offer some ankle support, but weigh less than high tops. Low-top cleats have the lowest weight, but offer no ankle support. They are best for players with strong ankles who want maximum running speed.
Match the length of the cleat studs to the terrain you'll be playing on. Most children require studs less than 1/2 inch long. Choose short studs or relatively smooth soles for dense, firmly packed play surfaces, or slightly longer studs for soft dirt or mud.
Tips and Suggestions
Choose synthetic materials rather than leather. Synthetic cleats are the easiest to clean cost less than leather. For players who are still growing and changing sizes often, leather cleats are likely a waste of money. There's also a risk that leather cleats will shrink slightly as they are exposed to moisture from sweat or mud. Buy cleats with velcro or buckles rather than laces. Younger players will have an easier time keeping these cleats secure by themselves without needing the assistance of parents or coaches each time laces come untied. Older and more aggressive players will experience fewer problems with laces coming untied as they play, allowing them to focus on the game. Molded cleats have built-in soles made of rubber and are the style recommended.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE CORRECT BAT
Nothing has changed more in the game of Softball than bats. New technology has delivered bats that not only enhance performance but also are tailored to an individual player's strengths. It is essential that you select a bat that fits your skill level, height, weight, and hitting strength. Bats that meet softball standards as defined by the association must be marked as "Official Softball" on the bat itself.
Determining Your Bat Size
There are some standard rules of thumb in selecting the appropriate bat length. The charts below offer some guidelines based on age and weight and height.
Using your age as a guide, use the chart above to determine the bat length that fits your age.
Height and weight
Height and Weight measurements are a more precise way to determine your optimal bat length. Use the height and weight chart below to give you a general idea of the bat length that fits your body.
Bat Weight-to-Length Ratio
Bats are also weighted in ounces and are fitted with a weight-to-length ratio, often shown as -8, -9, etc. (This basically means a 34-inch bat with a -6 ratio weighs 28 ounces). Selecting weight really depends on two critical factors--your strength and hitting style. For young players, there is an easy test to see if a bat is the correct weight. Have them grip the bat with one hand and hold it straight out away from their body (the arm should be straight as well). They should easily be able to hold the bat in this position. If not, the bat is most likely too heavy and you should try a lighter bat. Generally, a lighter bat will give you quicker swing speed with greater control.