Girls are playing softball at a younger age than ever before. Most recreational leagues now have teams for girls as young as four years old. Before you take your daughter to her first practice, you will need to provide her with the proper equipment. It can be difficult to choose a first glove, helmet or bat for you daughter, but a few guidelines can help you make the right decision.
The first piece of equipment that your new softball player needs is a good softball glove. Many parents make the mistake of buying their daughter a t-ball glove because it is small and seems like it is a good fit for her hand. This is a mistake. T-ball gloves are sized for small baseballs. The reduced pocket size make it hard to properly field a softball. Softballs commonly come in 11 inch and 12 inch sizes. Check with your daughter’s coach and find a glove that is sized for the ball the league will be using. The glove will look too big for your tiny girl, but if it is oiled and broken in, your daughter will be able to field better and will be safe on the field.
After you have a properly sized glove, the next order of business is to find a batting helmet. Most teams play slow pitch at the youngest age, so the danger or being hit with a ball is low. However, wild swings with a bat can cause injury, and it is good to get your daughter used to batting with a helmet. Helmets come in a variety of sizes, so make sure that you take your daughter with you when purchasing a helmet. Resist buying a helmet that is too large in an attempt to get several years of use. A helmet that is too large will not protect as well, and it can obscure vision. If your daughter has longer hair, find a helmet that is designed to accommodate a pony tail. Face masks aren’t usually required for beginning players, but they are available and can protect your daughter from facial injuries.
A glove and a helmet are the only equipment required to begin playing softball, but many players enjoy wearing cleats and having their on bats. There are cleats that are specially designed for softball, but the leather is stiff and breaking in the cleats can take time and is often uncomfortable. Soccer or all-purpose cleats are fine for beginning softball players and are softer and easier to break in.
Finding a bat can be a problem when dealing with a very young child. Fifteen and sixteen ounce bats are the proper weight for beginning players, but it can be difficult to find a bat that is very light but still has the right length. T-ball bats can be found in the right sizes, but check with your daughter’s coach to make sure that t-ball bats are allowed.
After buying all the equipment, a bat bag is necessary to keep all of the equipment in one place. Young children will be able to handle a backpack styled bat bag better than a long traditional bag. Backpack style bags hold gloves, helmets and other equipment in large pockets and bats are held in place by loops on the outside of the bag.