Project Description


Overview & Examples

Softball is a team sport popular in intramural programs across the United States. It is a direct descendant of baseball, although played with a larger ball that is pitched underhand rather than overhand. Most recreational programs play slow-pitch in which the pitcher delivers the ball at a slow to moderate speed. Slow-pitch softball is played on a smaller diamond than in baseball with bases 60-65 feet apart and fence distances at approximately 300 feet from home plate. Fast-pitch softball, played at the varsity level at many institutions, is played on an even smaller field with pitches delivered at a much faster speed.

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Traditional Formats

10-on-10 men’s, women’s, co-rec, and mixed slow-pitch leagues.


Most slow-pitch softball games are officiated by two umpires, a home plate umpire and a base umpire. An additional base umpire may be added to form a 3-umpire crew for highly competitive games.

A scorekeeper may be utilized to keep score, or score may be kept by the umpiring crew or members of the participating teams.


The NIRSA Slow Pitch Softball Rules Book & Officials’ Manual furnishes complete playing rules for league and tournament play. The rulebook and other officials training materials are available for purchase in the NIRSA Education and Publication Center at

While the NIRSA softball rulebook is utilized as the basis for rules on many college campuses, many institutions have modified select rules to better reflect their unique participant groups and program requirements.

Notes & Variations

Co-rec leagues may employ a variety of rule variations to encourage and/or limit participation by particular players including requiring the batting line-up to alternate between genders and restricting the positioning of fielders by gender.

Technological advances in game equipment are more evident in softball with high-tech bats constructed of specialized alloys providing significant advantages to teams. Rules can restrict usage of equipment to provide a more level field of competition.

Women’s leagues may use a smaller-sized softball than men’s leagues. Pitching distances and base distances may also be shortened.

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NIRSA Intramural Sports Community of Practice