Like fast-pitch softball, slow-pitch softball is also bounded by sets of rules and regulations. These rules are based on the specific level of play, league or class of program of the slowpitch you are into. Aside from learning the basics of softball technique and proper play, you must fully understand first these slowpitch rules.
You can find similarities of rules across different levels of play. Thus, we will outline the rules and regulations observed by three of the highest governing bodies in softball. These are the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) and the National Softball Association (NSA).
The rules are patterned to baseball rules. Slowptich is recognized because its pitch has an arc also called the lob pitch.
Levels of Play
Slowpitch is not limited in terms of gender unlike fastpitch softball. You can notice that there are very few male fastpitch teams. Slowpitch has various levels of play. Levels of play refer to the classes which differ from skills and gender.
- Men’s are only composed of males and women’s class is only composed of females.
- Coed refers to the teams with mixed players. Usually it is consists of five men and five women. But there are classes which allow a team with seven men and three women.
- Class B is considered the highest level of play with players who have mixed levels of skills.
- The Class C is the competitive level with also a mixed of players who have different skill levels.
- Class D is usually composed of beginners and average skilled players. This is a low-key level and is mostly after recreation than winning championships.
- The Class E is the most leisurely type of class level where novice players with little to zero experience get to play softball.
Ten players are required on the field: the Catcher, Pitcher, First, Second and Third Baseman, Right Fielder, Left Fielder, Center Fielder, Shortstop and the rover or the extra player. The latter is commonly used as a fourth outfielder. The required number of players for the game to start is determined by the local league. As a team, you should meet the required number of players and should be presented in order.
Below are specific rules according to positions. We also included some softball guide for proper playing.
More Softball Guide and Requirements
Various leagues may differ in terms of setting their fences. The regulated minimums are as follow:
- Women’s Class A and B set their fences at a minimum of 275 feet. The maximum is 350 feet.
- Women’s Class C and D fences have a minimum of 250 feet while their maximum is set at 325 feet.
- Men’s Class B, C, D and E have a minimum of 300 feet fences. The bases are set to 65 or 70 feet from each other.
Slowpitch softball also mandates on the equipment to use.
- You should only use an official softball bat. The bat should not exceed 31.5 ounces if to be used in USSSA. If you’re playing for NSA, your bat should not exceed 38 ounces in weight.
- The bats should not also be more than 34 inches in length and no longer than 2.25 inches in diameters.
- The bats should bear the stamped of USSSA, NSA or ASA Approval. During the game, the umpire may request for checking the bats. Governing bodies are producing approved list of bats yearly so it is better to check on their list so you will be sure.
- The bat should have a safety grip and free from sharp and rough edges. Fungo bats and baseball bats are not allowed.
- Metal cleats are illegal and prohibited. Hard or soft rubber cleats are only allowed, along with rubber shoes, sneakers or turf shoes.
In terms of slowpitch softball, these are the regulations:
- Slowpitch teams are using 11 and 12 inch softball with yellow covers. On the other hand, men’s teams would use 12-inch while the women’s teams use 11-inch.
The Flip/Flop Rule and Home Run Limits
The Flip/Flop Rule is a unique run rule in slowpitch softball. It states here that when the run rule exceeded in an inning and the home team is losing, they will stay up to bat and bat the opposing team for that particular game.
After three outs, they should be able to reduce the run difference and if not, the game will be over. If they manage to reduce the run difference, the opposing team or visiting team will come up to bat and proceed with the game as normal.
The Flip/Flop Rule
Men's B, C, D, E
25 after 3
20 after 4
15 after 5
Women's A, B, C, D
15 after 3
10 after 5
Coed (Men and Women)
20 after 3
15 after 4
10 after 5
An untouched ball which hit over the fence is called a home run. Teams can have this collectively in an entire game. There are limited numbers of home runs and any home run beyond these limits will be considered out. Again, this depends on the local league where you are playing so make sure you ask first or double-check with the umpires.
The table below shows the number of home run limits according to level of play.
Level of Play
Home run limit
Men's D & E
Women's A & B
Coed Major Male
Coed Major Female
Coed C Male
Coed C Female
Coed D & E Male
Coed D & E Female
In case the team was unable to show up, have an incomplete number of players or refuse to play, the game will be forfeited. This will be scored as 7-0 in favor of the opposing team. For ties after the last inning or overtime, the teams may still continue playing until one team is able to score one more run before the third out.
Others find these slowpitch rules quite complex because of the governing bodies regulating the rules. Each league is following official rules, but they are also allowed to incorporate their own set of rules. The rules we discussed above are the most common you can experience in various leagues and levels of play. We highly suggest you keep on reading other softball tips, tricks and guides for an in-depth understanding of other slowpitch rules.
Other Slowpitch Rules During the Game
Blood Rule: You will be considered injured if you have an open wound or bleeding or has blood on your uniform. Players exhibiting these may not be able to go back to the game not until the bleeding has stopped.
The wound should also be properly treated and covered. The staff or umpire of the game will determine the amount of time needed to get the bleeding stopped and to cover the wound. This will prevent the player from getting substitute out of the game.
Shorthanded Rule: if the player has to leave the game and the team has no substitute available, when it is the player’s turn, he or she will be declared out.
Innings: Every game is consists of seven innings. The choice of who will be the first or last to bat (home or visitors) will be decided by a toss coin prior to the game. Each team will have three outs per inning.
Base stealing is prohibited. Runners can only leave their bases when the pitched ball is hit by the batter or already reached the home plate. Base runners should immediately return to their bases if the batter is unable to hit the ball otherwise, the base runner will be called out.
- Players must be in the dugout or behind the backstop during the game to prevent injuries.
- After you hit the ball, do not throw the bat.
- Do not stand too close to the batter if you are pitching a ball.
- Always wear complete and proper uniform and gear.
- Always stretch before the game to prevent injuries.
These are just the most common and basic rules of slowpitch softball. You will get to know more about the rules and regulations according to various leagues as you continue to explore the world of slowpitch softball.