What Are the Three Sizes of Balls That Are Used in Softball?

Fast Pitch and Slow Pitch

    Both fast pitch and slow pitch softball use 11- or 12-inch softballs, depending on the size and age of the players. Boys' and girls' teams with players aged 10 and younger usually use the smaller 11-inch ball. Some women's slow pitch leagues also use the 11-inch ball. Men's slow pitch leagues primarily use the 12-inch ball, as do both men and women playing fast pitch.

Chicago Style

    A version of slow pitch softball unique to Chicago uses a softer 16-inch ball. The large ball doesn't travel as far when hit, which means few home runs. This made the game popular in the city's school parks and small neighborhood ball fields, since it solved the problem of smaller balls frequently flying out into the streets. Unlike other types of softball, fielders don't wear gloves. Many consider 16-inch softball as much a part of the Chicago's history and character as deep-dish pizza, and it has been a lettered sport in the city's public schools since 1999.

About the Author

Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.