Fastpitch softball is a version of softball played mostly by women by specific fastpitch softball rules. Normally, fastpitch softball players start performing this sport at the age of 6 and most of them go through college age. Fast pitch softball is played mostly by women even though there are few males or mixed leagues. The governing body of softball and all its disciplines is the International Softball Federation which recognizes three styles of softball: fast pitch, medium pitch and slow pitch. Fast pitch is maybe the most competitive version of softball and it was the only form of softball played at the Olympics games since 1996. It is popular among college softball and international championship tournaments.
One of the fastpitch rules is that the ball must have a circumference of 11 inches in youth leagues and 12 inches for the other leagues. In this type of softball, the ball must be thrown underhand and with a high speed, usually more than 70 miles per hour for the girls. The ball must be also thrown in a circular motion, called the “windmill” pitching type which helps increasing the ball’s speed and curvature. In the windmill pitch, the ball is released when it is centered in the middle of the player’s body so the ball will enter the strike zone.
There are different styles of pitching. There is the two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, changeup, two different rise balls, two different drop balls, curveball, off-speed, screwball and some others. The basic pitch is the fastball and that is mostly considered the basic point from where a fast pitch player should practice in his/her trainings. The style on which the players are thought to throw the ball varies depending upon the players’ abilities and on the coach’s methods. But players must be able to throw the pitches at very high speed because that is what speeds up the game creating more action and intensity. However, speed is not everything about fast pitch.
Girls fastpitch softball rules usually refers to the position of the body. Before starting the pitch, the player must have her hands apart, a foot on the surface of the pitcher’s plate and another one behind the pitcher’s plate. It is considered that the pitch starts when one hand lets go of the ball or when the player makes a motion after she has brought her hands together. Another rule is that the pitcher is not allowed to make more than one step forward (it must be done in the same time when she is releasing the ball) after she brings her hands together. A very complete set of fastpitch softball rules can be found on the official website of the International Softball Federation.