Fast Pitch vs Slow Pitch Softball: What’s the difference?


Summary:  Fast pitch softball is what’s played at competitive youth, high school and college levels.  Slow pitch softball is more common for recreational leagues, especially with older teams who are looking for a more leisurely pace of play. 

Continue reading below for more on “What is the difference?” between Fast Pitch Softball and Slow Pitch Softball.

Fast pitch and slow pitch softball are two distinct variations of the same sport, each with its own set of rules, gameplay dynamics, and equipment. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between fast pitch and slow pitch softball:

Example of fast pitch softball; “windmill style” pitch

Pitching Style:

  • Fast Pitch Softball: In fast pitch, pitchers use a windmill-like motion to deliver the ball to the batter. This motion generates high speeds and various types of spin, leading to challenging pitches with movement and deception.
  • Slow Pitch Softball: In slow pitch, pitchers deliver the ball underhand in an arc, often referred to as a “lob.” The ball’s trajectory is higher, allowing batters more time to see the pitch and adjust their swing.

Pitching Speed:

  • Fast Pitch Softball: As the name suggests, fast pitch softball involves higher pitching speeds. Pitchers can throw the ball at considerable speeds, often exceeding 60-70 mph.
  • Slow Pitch Softball: The pitching speed in slow pitch is much lower compared to fast pitch. The emphasis is on accuracy and placement rather than speed.

Batter’s Experience:

  • Fast Pitch Softball: Batters in fast pitch softball have less time to react to the pitches due to their speed and movement. Hitting in fast pitch requires quick reflexes and the ability to handle various pitch types effectively.
  • Slow Pitch Softball: Batters in slow pitch softball have more time to track the ball’s trajectory, making hitting generally easier. The focus is on timing and making solid contact.

Game Pace:

  • Fast Pitch Softball: Fast pitch games tend to have a faster pace due to the speed of the pitches and the rapid transitions between innings.
  • Slow Pitch Softball: Slow pitch games are generally more relaxed, with a slower pace. The emphasis is on player interaction, teamwork, and enjoying the game.

Field Dimensions:

  • Field dimensions for both variations are generally the same, but the pace and style of play can make the field appear differently during a game.


  • The equipment used in both variations of softball, such as bats, gloves, and protective gear, is similar. However, the specific equipment may vary based on individual league rules and preferences.


  • Fast Pitch Softball: Strategies often revolve around quick transitions, precise pitching, advanced base running, and strategic hitting to overcome the challenges posed by fast-paced gameplay.
  • Slow Pitch Softball: Strategies in slow pitch are more focused on defense, positioning, and situational hitting, given the slower pace of the game.

Skill Emphasis:

  • Fast Pitch Softball: Fast pitch places a high emphasis on individual skills, including pitching velocity, batter reactions, and defensive agility.
  • Slow Pitch Softball: Slow pitch emphasizes teamwork, communication, and strategy, as well as the enjoyment of the game.

Both fast pitch and slow pitch softball offer unique experiences and challenges, appealing to different player preferences and skill sets. The choice between the two often depends on the player’s comfort with the pitching style, desired pace of play, and personal enjoyment.

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