Safety First | fastpitch softball
At Softball is For Girls, February is slotted for health and wellness.
We will be bringing you important information about how to keep our young players healthy, in body, mind and spirit all month-long.
And of course, we cannot begin to talk about wellness without talking about safety.
Fastpitch, is not called FAST pitch, simply because the pitchers are FAST! Sports Science shows us first hand, that the game of fastpitch softball, is a game of speed. And the ball we use, is anything but SOFT! When you mix intense speed, with amazing technology infused bats, and CRAZY talent and strength – you have a recipe for a game that can be dangerous.
Last year alone, the United States reporting nearly 376,500 ER visits from broken bones to concussions and everything in between, as a result of fast-pitch softball games.
Check out this amazing video from ESPN, that shows you just how FAST fastpitch can be!
And of course, one of the most hot button debate issues in softball is FACEMASKS. Should girls wear them? Are they important? Are they necessary? Are they frowned upon by college coaches? Does wearing a facemask make you look afraid of the ball? Should they be mandatory? Do they improve or diminish player ability? And there are A LOT of opinions out there.
Facemasks, as of right now, are safety OPTIONS. That being said, they are quickly becoming mandatory for infielders in many leagues across the United States. And there are many folks, including Coach Tom Hamm, who didn’t believe facemasks were necessary for his pitcher/daughter, heralding efforts to make them mandatory safety equipment in all arenas of play.
Here is a picture of his daughter, Haylee after one particularly memorable game.
And all information about whether college coaches regard players wearing them as ‘scared’ or ‘timid’ or whether it plays a negative role in recruitment at all, has been debunked.
Furthermore, right now, to wear a face-mask or not is optional – and everyone is entitled to their opinion. That being said, it is up to the ADULTS and coaches in children s lives to make decisions based on their safety and well-being, rather than a child’s comfort zone.
There are tons of kids who cannot stand wearing seat-belts. Toddlers who writhe and wiggle in car seats, and parents force their kids to use these life saving safety tools anyways. And we have seen plenty of girls take a bad hop to the chin or nose, or neck – and become truly afraid of the ball – an awful thing to recover from.
(Notice the SEC SCHOOL NAME of the jersey on this famous player, and the gear she takes on the rubber?)
For now, face-masks are not mandatory. And yes, it is up to each and every individual parent and child. No judgment here, one way or the other. You do whatever you want. But in our humble opinion, a simple, less than $30 investment, of a Rip-It face-mask (our favorite brand because they are lightweight and small and come in smaller sizes for youths or kids with small heads) is much cheaper than a new set of teeth.
As a side note, if your child doesn’t wear a face-mask because its uncomfortable – you may want to help them get used to it, as we will not be surprised if mandatory face-mask use becomes a real THING for infielders in the near future.
This same mentality applies to heart-guards for pitchers. No matter how good she is, no matter how quick she is, no matter how adept she is with her hands—-bats today are made with aeronautical technology and your beautiful little pitcher is has less than a second to react while finishing her stride before the ball is hit. (And she’s standing anywhere form 3-7 feet closer than anyone else)
7 Simple Safe Guards for FAST-PITCH –
- Teach RULES of the games and expect your kids to play with integrity. Yes, its a rough sport – but there is no need to play prison rules.
- Wear batting helmets when hitting off any live pitching or machines, indoors or outdoors. At practice and otherwise. Simple habit that should start young. No excuses. When NEAR batting cages, have participants wear their helmets.
- Teach young children to NOT swing bats in dugouts, or in close quarters with other players.
- Teach proper fundamentals and mechanics FIRST and FOREMOST! You can reduce injuries by taking the time to teach kids how to do things right! Throwing, fielding, hitting, running, sliding etc. Teach them how to be safe and effective!
- Stress the importance of players to PAY ATTENTION to what is going on around them at the softball field at all times.
- Encourage your players to wear protective gear. Facemasks, heart guards for pitchers, and make sure helmets are equipped with face-masks. Consider how padded up football players are when they take the field, and no one is calling them sissies.
- As coaches and adults, outline safety rules and regulations early on to make them HABIT within your team culture.