Why Are Softballs Yellow?

A softball is both bigger and brighter than a baseball

Softball is a popular team sport among both men and women, and is played in many countries throughout the world. It is a derivative of baseball and shares many of the same rules, while also having enough differences to make it its own unique sport. One of the biggest differences between baseball and softball is the ball, which is larger than the traditional white ball and often colored to make an optic yellow softball.

History of the softball

Old Softball

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The original ball used for the sport was not a ball at all. During the first known game, in 1887, softball players used a boxing glove tied into the shape of a ball. As the game became more refined, the size and color of the ball became more sophisticated and unified. Finally, in 2002, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) made the familiar bright-yellow hue the official color of their respective leagues' softball for use on the softball field.

Features of a softball

Softball has different variations--mainly slow-pitch softball and fast-pitch softball--and each carries its own set of rules and specifications. The size of the ball, for instance, will vary depending on the rules of each particular league.

According to the official rules of the American Softball Association, or ASA, however, a softball has the following general specifications: It is smooth with concealed stitches or a flat surface; may be wound by hand or machine; and has a core made of a rubber/cork mixture or other similar approved materials

Why are softballs yellow?

Softball on Baseball Diamond

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The biggest reason for making softballs with a bright yellow color is that they are easier to see. The distance between the pitching mound and the batter's box is approximately 14 feet shorter in softball than in baseball, giving the hitter less time to react to the pitch. The distance between home plate and the other bases also is shorter, which means fielders, especially those at first base, need a better reaction time than most baseball players.


The word "softball" is a bit misleading. As anyone who has ever been hit by a softball will tell you, it is anything but soft. As in baseball, getting hit by the ball hurts--another reason to make it more visible by coloring it bright yellow. The ball is also larger than people who have never played may realize. Ranging from 12 to 16 inches, it can leave quite a large bruise if you are unfortunate enough to be struck by an infield line drive. This is why many infielders and pitchers wear protective masks

Types of softballs

While the 12-inch, yellow ball is the version most often associated with softball, it is by no means the only ball used in recreational or competitive play. Leagues in international competition sometimes use white softballs similar to a baseball, and adult recreational leagues are known to use various bright colors like neon-blue or pink. Additionally, the size of the ball and other equipment will vary depending on where you play.

Where can I buy softballs?

Baltimore Orioles v Atlanta Braves

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You can buy softballs from Amazon.com or from websites of official brands like Franklin sports or Rawlings. You can purchase softballs for in game use or practice softballs to help gain skills in the infield or outfield. You can also purchase other equipment like softball gloves or softball bats from these sources.