Recreational Softball and Baseball: A Beginner’s Guide

1200x900 closeup baseballs on grass
Recreational Softball and Baseball: A Beginner's Guide 4

Bet you can’t name a sport more ubiquitous throughout corporate offices across America than adult recreational softball. Baseball, the sexier older cousin of softball, is, of course, America’s favorite pastime.

Whether you’re already an athlete or maybe just want to be one when you grow up, adult rec softball and baseball leagues offer something for nearly any skill level.

This post will cover a little background on baseball and softball, the benefits of playing either sport, recommendations on gear, and how you can start playing.

Softball vs. Baseball: Same But Different

I won’t get too in the weeds for you but will give you some of the bigger differences between the sports of softball and baseball. But first, the similarities.

How are softball and baseball the same?

Baseball and fastpitch softball have nine players. Slowpitch softball has 10 players.

Softball and baseball are both played on a diamond-shaped field, although softball fields are smaller. There are three bases and a home plate.

A lot of the rules of baseball and softball are the same. The goal of both sports is to hit the ball that is pitched to you and make your way around the bases to home plate. Make it home, score a point. Woo hoo!

When you’re up at bat, you get three strikes before you’re out. 

Swing and miss? Strike!

The pitcher throws the ball in the perfect spot across home plate? Strike!

But if the pitcher makes crappy pitches, they are called balls. Rack up four balls, and you get to run to first base.

Now, if you do connect ball to bat, you run to as many bases as you can without getting out first. 

Pop that ball into the air and one of the opposing players catches it? You’re out. Can’t get to the base before an opposing player gets the ball and tags the base—or you-–first? You’re out.

Each team gets three outs per inning. The team with the most runs to home plate at the end of the game wins.

How are softball and baseball different?

The major differences between softball and baseball aren’t really all that major. Softball has a smaller field, larger ball, and fewer innings per game than baseball (seven vs. nine).

Baseball pitching is primarily overhand, or often a sidearm pitch. Softball is underhand and either fast pitch or slow pitch.

Baseball tends to be a more male-dominated sport, while competitive softball tends to be more female-dominated. At the recreational level, there are a lot of co-ed softball leagues.

What are the benefits if I play softball or baseball?

Like most sports, adult softball or baseball not only gives players physical benefits but mental benefits as well. Sports have a way of helping one clear their mind and release anxiety and stress. MedBroadcast notes softball can burn 350 calories an hour, help carve strong arms, and create friendship bonds.

Although it should be noted, sometimes those 350 calories are taken back in with a few beers after a game on social softball leagues!

coors light in baseball glove
Recreational Softball and Baseball: A Beginner's Guide 5

Ready to play softball or baseball?

If you’re ready to start playing competitive or recreational softball, you need to make sure you have the right gear. And of course, you need to find a team.

What type of gear do I need to play softball or baseball?

Unless you’re a catcher, the gear you’ll need to play casual recreational softball or baseball is pretty minimal.

Must-have gear

If you’re joining a team in a pre-existing league, the main thing you’ll need is a glove. The league will typically supply the bats, balls, and helmets. For good information on how to select the right glove, Dick’s Sporting Goods has thorough posts for both baseball and softball.

Recommended gear

Not everyone in a casual recreational adult softball or baseball league will wear cleats, but it is highly recommended. The grip on the soles of regular sneakers might leave you more prone to slipping and falling as you’re rounding the bases on your first home run.

Additional gear to consider

Longer pants and socks are recommended for protection. You may already have these, but you can also invest in baseball or softball-specific pants and socks. For hand protection, batting gloves keep blisters at bay and also improve grip.

Elbow guards, shin/leg guards, and mouth guards can protect your body parts from errant balls or bats, and also from sliding injuries.

Gear Guide

Visit our Gear section for more information on equipment.

How can I find a team to play softball or baseball?

A great place to start is to visit a site like Depending on the city you live in, there will be varied options for leagues or pickup games. You can also do a web search for adult softball or baseball leagues near you.

Again, depending on the size of your city, you might have options that range from competitive to social leagues. Organizations like Volo Sports have leagues in larger cities nationwide, and their leagues focus on both the social and semi-competitive aspects of sports. A league like this is good for beginners and intermediate players.

If you work in a corporate office space and like to take initiative, create a team with your coworkers, and encourage others in the building to do the same. Your teams can play in interoffice battles.

You can also head to the Adults Play Sports directory to find a league in your area.

Now go play!

You get the basics, and now it’s time to get out there and play. Or as we say at Adults Play Sports, Grow Up and Play! The only thing getting in your way is you.

Author: @adultsplaysports

I'm a lifelong soccer player. Took up diving, golf, pickleball, and mountain biking after the age of 45. Sports have helped me physically but also mentally and emotionally. I've built friendship bonds that will last a lifetime. When I'm not playing sports, I'm wine tasting, traveling, or watching mind-sucking reality TV.

Find out more about  why I started Adults Play Sports.

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