5 Major Differences between Slow Pitch and Fast Pitch Softball

Softball is a favorite summer sport of men and women alike.  But not all softball was created equal. There are two main types of softball: fast pitch and slow pitch. The obvious difference between these two variations is the speed of the pitch, but that isn’t the only difference.  Here is a brief look at the differences between fast pitch and slow pitch softball.

*The Arc

Speed is not the only way that a pitch in slow pitch is different from a pitch in fast pitch.  A pitch in fast pitch softball is linear.  Its path is essentially a straight line from the pitcher’s hand to the catcher’s glove.  In slow pitch, it is a requirement that the ball arc to a certain height.  The required arcs vary within leagues, but a common required arc for slow pitch is 6 feet in the air.

*A Strike

In fast pitch softball, a strike is achieved when the pitcher throws the ball within the batter’s strike zone (usually between the knees and chest of the batter).  In slow pitch, a strike is achieved when the pitcher successfully puts the right amount of arc on the ball, and when that ball lands on the plate.  The pitcher of a slow pitch game does not throw right to the catcher; instead they try to make the ball hit the plate.

*Strike Count

Everyone knows the classic song that boasts “1-2-3 strikes you’re out!” However, that’s not always the case.  In fast pitch softball the standard 4 balls are required for a walk and three strikes required for a strike out.  However, in slow pitch only 2 strikes are required for a strike out and only 3 balls for a walk.


In fast pitch softball, if the catcher drops the third strike, you are allowed to try to run to first base anyway.  This is known as “stealing first.”  If the catcher is able to regain the ball and throw to first before you get there, you are out.  But if you beat them you are safe.  In slow pitch softball, stealing first is not allowed.  As a matter of fact, stealing any base is not allowed in slow pitch.

*Home Runs

In fast pitch softball, a home run is always a good thing for your team.  In many slow pitch leagues, however, there is a limit set to the amount of home runs that can be scored.  After that limit is reached, the home run counts as an out.  This is because it’s easier for many people to hit home runs in slow pitch.  The home run limit rule forces teams to use their allotted home runs strategically.  The limit will be different for different leagues.

On the surface, it may seem like the difference between fast and slow pitch softball is obvious.  But there are actually many subtle differences between the two in addition to the difference in speed of the pitch.

Kevin Eaton

Hello! I’m Kevin – an openly biased Baltimore Orioles fan; a youth baseball parent; an obsessive-compulsive scorekeeper; a travelling ballpark tourist and a taste tester of defiantly unhealthy ballpark culinary offerings. In this space I share my love for the game of baseball and in doing so, connect with other really great people who love the game as much as I do.

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