Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fastpitch & Slowpitch in Softball

Fastpitch and slowpitch softball share similar traits. Both sports share a general game structure similar to baseball. However, the two sports differ in their rule structure, and can also differ in the equipment used. For example, a fastpitch softball player might select a slightly wider bat than a slowpitch softball player. In some cases, fastpitch and slowpitch softball also require different types of cleats.
Beginning Levels
At most less-advanced levels of softball, no difference exists between fastpitch and slowpitch cleats. In both cases, the cleats are made of soft-molded plastic or rubber. All softball cleats have protrusions on the shoe sole, designed to help increase traction to provide stability and increase the athlete's agility. The cleats often fasten using laces, and some softball cleats have an enlarged shoe tongue to protect the shoelace knot, and help prevent the cleats from untying mid-play. The uppers of most softball cleats are made from synthetic materials, though some might be made from leather.
College Level
The cleats worn during fastpitch and slowpitch softball only differ at the college level, according to Women's Sports Information. While college-level slowpitch softball players use the molded-plastic cleats worn at other levels of softball, college-level fastpitch players wear cleats with metal spikes or protrusions. Metal spikes can dig more effectively into the ground on a fastpitch softball field, providing the traction required to move quickly, such as to steal a base -- a move allowed only in fastpitch softball.
Plastic vs. Metal Cleats
The plastic and metal cleats used in college-level slowpitch and fastpitch softball require different levels of upkeep from their wearer. Plastic slowpitch softball cleats typically have a sole that is permanently attached to the shoe, according to iSport. Metal fastpitch cleats typically have detachable spikes that screw into the bottom of the shoe. Molded cleats can prove easier to clean and longer-lasting than their detachable metal counterparts, which contain small crevices that require more effort to keep clean.
While the National Softball Association in the United States bans the use of metal cleats in junior-level games, the regional softball league in your area might have different regulations regarding cleats. Some facilities might discourage the use of metal cleats, even for advanced-level fastpitch softball because the cleats can damage the playing field and increase the cost of field upkeep. To determine which cleats you should buy for fastpitch or slowpitch softball, contact your local softball league.

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