Can You Steal Bases in Softball?

Baseball player running home

Americans love their sports and softball is no exception. It's a game for all ages and skill levels; but like any game, there are rules. Under the Amateur Softball Association rules, stealing bases depends on the age of the players and whether a team is playing fast pitch or slow pitch softball.

Kids' Games

Stealing is allowed for fast pitch softball for children ages 10 or under. However, they are only allowed to steal one base per pitch -- from first and second base -- and if on third base, the runner is not allowed to steal home, according to the "Coaching Youth Softball," written by the American Sports Education Program. For slow pitch play in softball, players 10 or under are not allowed to steal bases. For those who are 12 or under and 14 or under, stealing bases is allowed in fast pitch play, but not in slow pitch play.

Slow Pitch

In men and women's open slow pitch softball, stealing bases is allowed, however there are certain rules to follow when stealing. According to the AZ Softball Umpire Rulebook, if the pitched ball lands in front of the home plate, or if it hits the runner, it is considered a dead ball, and the base runner can't steal and must return to his base. If the catcher catches the ball, or the ball is missed and lands behind the plate, the ball is considered live and the base can be stolen. Also, with slow pitch softball, base runners can't lead off and they must wait for the ball to reach the home plate before they attempt to steal the base.

Fast Pitch

In fast pitch softball, stealing is similar to the slow pitch rules. However, the one big difference is when the base runner can leave the base, according to the ASA Softball Rules. With fast pitch, a runner can't lead off or leave the base, but as soon as the ball is released from the pitcher's hand the runner can attempt to steal a base. Unlike rules for youths, adults can steal as many bases as they want, including home base. Another important rule to remember in softball, is that the base runner must be walking toward their base or standing on the base, once the pitcher has the ball and is standing near the mound. If a runner is off the base, he can get an automatic out called on him.

Pay Attention

If you're quick, stealing bases can be a great way to advance to the next base. Some tips you should consider before you decide to steal is to pay attention to the catcher's throw. If he has a fast, solid throw, the chances of him getting the ball to the base players will greatly increase. Another tip is to make sure you slide into the base; trying to stop yourself at such a fast speed will result in over-running the base or injuring yourself.