Despite being part of the softball family, slow pitch softball and fastpitch softball are worlds apart when it comes to league regulations, how to play, and the equipment used, such as gloves, bats, and softball size.
In this article, we look at fastpitch vs slow pitch bats and answer the oft-asked “can you use fastpitch softball bats for slow pitch”?
Difference Between Fastpitch and Slow Pitch Bats
First, yes, it is possible to use a fastpitch softball bat for slow pitch softball. In fact, any fastpitch bat with an ASA stamp (most of them do) can be used in slow pitch. However, it is not advisable.
While fastpitch and slow-pitch softball are both members of the softball family, pitch speeds impact the choice of bat significantly. Pitched ball speeds in slow-pitch softball are around 25 mph, while fastpitch underhand pitches travel at speeds upwards of 70mph for women and up to 105 mph for men.
Because of this difference in speed, fastpitch vs slow pitch bats are constructed differently.
Slow pitch bats are heavier and come in mostly end loaded options to help the adult players swinging them generate more power.
Fastpitch bats are lighter and commonly feature a balanced swing weight to give the younger female athletes swinging them quicker reaction time and faster swing speeds so they can generate more power.
Slow pitch bats require more effort to swing and can’t be swung fast enough to hit a fastpitch pitch, and most fastpitch bats are too light to hit a slow pitch ball with power.
Other Factors To Consider
When choosing between fastpitch vs slow-pitch bats, feel in the hands is critical for a hitter’s confidence and success at the plate. Here are the factors that affect feel before you make that final decision. These are:
What’s better between a one-piece vs two-piece bat? One-piece bats have a much stiffer feel in the hands and are often preferred by stronger, more experienced players who combine the force and speed of their swings with the bat’s rigidity to generate stronger hits.
On the other hand, two-piece bats have a separate handle and barrel and are then joined via a connecting piece. Two-piece bats generate more whip when swung to give contact hitters better bat speed and more power.
Length boils down to personal preference. Some batters prefer shorter barrels for better control. In our experience, long-barrels feel much better than their short-barrel bats, distributing the end load evenly to give the bat a smoother, easier swing. Longer barrels give more reach at the plate, allowing you to hit pitches that fall in the strike zone’s extremities.
However, longer bats can be unwieldy and difficult to swing, ultimately slowing you down.
Test out different-length barrels to determine the right one for you.
Fastpitch bats are measured by their drop weight, done by taking the difference between a bat’s length and its weight. For instance, a 33-inch bat with a -12 drop weight weighs 21 oz, with the rule of thumb being that the lower the drop weight, the lighter the bat is, i.e., a -12 bat is lighter than a -8 bat.
Slowpitch softball bats have a set length of 34 inches and thus won’t have a drop weight. Weight instead comes down to preference, with slow-pitch softball bats weighing anywhere between 24 and 30 ounces.
Weight will significantly affect performance at the plate, so ensure to pick a bat that you’re comfortable swinging. Try multiple bat weights to hone in on your ideal bat weight.
Ensuring your bat meets your league’s regulations is essential. Sanctioned leagues such as USSSA, USA/ASA, NSA, and Senior League Softball all have guidelines, so if you aren’t sure, check out your league’s guideline page to avoid costly surprises.
Both fastpitch and slow pitch bats are made from different materials, i.e., composite, aluminum and wood, each providing unique benefits. Composite bats offer fantastic performance overall but aren’t as durable and may develop webs or crack over time. Composite bats are also more expensive than aluminum bats and will perform poorly in colder temps.
Aluminum bats cost less than composite bats, do not need breaking in, are much more durable, and are better in cold weather.
Wood is the material of choice for experienced players and anyone looking to improve their technique. The smaller sweet spot makes hitting with wood much more challenging, improving hitting mechanics in the long run. Wood bats tend to break quite often, though.
Fastpitch vs slow pitch bats mainly differ in regards to weight. Fastpitch softball bats are light enough to give players the swing speed and control to make solid contact with the ball.
Slow pitch bats, on the other hand, are all about power. The heavier barrel may be a handful for contact hitters, but power hitters will have no problem using this additional weight to generate maximum power upon contact.