When people think of professional athletes, they often imagine them as being in peak physical condition, but that is not always the case, especially when it comes to softball. Softball players are often considered to be some of the most out-of-shape athletes.
This phenomenon is not exclusive to softball and is commonly seen in other sports such as Baseball, American Football, and Golf.
There are a few explanations for this, which we will explore in this article.
Skill Over Athleticism
Unlike most other sports, softball is not very physically demanding, as it’s focused on skill rather than athleticism. Most players don’t get to run very often, which means that they are not required to be in top physical condition to excel.
In contrast, most other sports require players to be in good physical shape. This is because they place a greater emphasis on athleticism and less on skill or technique.
Soccer, for example, is a sport that is heavily focused on athleticism, and professional soccer players are often considered to be the fittest athletes. In soccer, being in top physical condition is required for outrunning your opponents. On average, soccer players run as much as 7 miles (11.2~ km) in a full match, that’s compared to 0.0375 miles (60~ meters) for baseball players. The figures are even lower when it comes to softball.
Strength and size can be advantageous in softball, larger players will often generate more power when hitting and pitching.
When it comes to fielding, having a larger frame can help you as this allows you to cover more ground. However, speed and agility are also important in fielding, as they allow you to reach the ball faster, something bigger players will struggle with. In fact, some of the best fielders in the history of professional softball have been of smaller size or in great shape.
What Does the Data Show
Data collected from 128 NCAA Division I collegiate female softball players shows that outfielders and infielders have a mean BMI of 25.7, compared to 26.0 for pitchers and 26.2 for catchers. That is compared to a mean BMI of 21.6 for Olympic athletes in 2016, 23.1 for female soccer players, or to a mean of 26.5 for adult females in the United States.
This indicates that female softball players, particularly pitchers and catchers, are indeed heavier than the average female athlete, and are much closer to the average female in the United States.
The data shows that softball players are indeed larger than other athletes. That is mainly because softball favors skill over athleticism, and that size and strength will have certain advantages in some positions. But that does not mean that smaller players can not excel at the sport, as being larger comes with its own disadvantages, as the ability to be quicker and more agile is lost with size.
If your size ever discouraged you from playing softball, do not let it, you can still be a great player no matter your size. It is not the size that matters, but the drive.