When taking up a sport, safety should be just as important as how fun and exciting that sport is.
The truth is that some sports carry more risk than others, and this is particularly true for contact sports.
Of course, there are some that enjoy this kind of physical intensity, but others should probably look into a sport that involves less direct contact between players.
When it comes to softball, this sport belongs in a sort of gray area.
While there’s no contact between players in the regular run of play, collisions do happen sometimes.
So, is softball a contact sport?
According to the current medical terminology in the US, softball belongs to the group of limited-contact sports.
Below, I’ll explain in more detail what it means and what kind of risks this sport carries.
Is Softball a Contact Sport?
As everyone who ever played softball knows, contact between players or with inanimate objects does happen sometimes.
However, these contacts are not required by the rules of the game, nor they are used to score points like in some other sports.
While contact can happen, especially while sliding for the base or running for the ball, it’s rarely a cause of injury.
In fact, 65% of all injuries occurring at softball games are not contact-related.
And those who come as a consequence of contact are a result of a collision with inanimate objects, such as base, fence or wall, ball, or even ground.
The contact with another player or a wall, for example, may cause a concussion, but these don’t happen as often as in some other sports.
What is Classified as Contact Sport?
In these sports, contact is required to score or to prevent the opposing players or team from scoring,
These sports are classified as full-contact sports.
Other sports can also involve contact, but it’s accidental or illegal under the rules of the game.
Based on these criteria, all sports all divided into four groups.
Full-contact sports are usually what we mean when we say contact sport.
Rules of sports in this category allow a significant impact force on players, no matter if it’s intentional or accidental.
Contact may occur while tackling and blocking other players, or making any other kind of moves that result in a collision between players.
Full-contact sports include football, different variations of rugby, Aussie rules football, lacrosse, ice hockey, and several others.
Martial arts such as MMA, boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and others also belong to this category.
Semi-contact sports usually include combat sports that involve limited and often simulated physical contact between two opposing fighters.
Competitors in this kind of sports often use excessive protection equipment in order to avoid injury.
Some examples of semi-contact sports are kickboxing, karate, taekwondo, and kendo.
Limited-contact sports, which include softball, are those where rules are designed in a way to prevent any kind of contact between players, intentional or intentional.
This doesn’t mean that there’s no contact in these sports.
Basketball, for example, involves plenty of contact between opposing players, but they’re mostly illegal and sanctioned by a referee.
Depending on the severity of illegal contact, players may even be ejected from the game.
Besides softball, limited-contact sports include baseball, basketball, field hockey, squash, volleyball, and many others.
As their name says, non-contact sports involve no contact between competing athletes.
This is achieved by having them compete in separate lanes or taking turns one after another.
Any contact in these sports is a serious breach of rules and usually leads to disqualification.
Sports in this category are tennis, table tennis, swimming, golf, bowling, badminton, gymnastics, track and field, cycling, and others.
How Dangerous is Softball?
However, it’s worth noting that, due to the large number of people engaged in these sports, softball, and baseball account for almost 10 percent of sports-related injuries.
Most injuries are a result of strains while running or sliding, being hit bay fast and wild balls, or collisions on base paths.
In addition, some overuse health issues, such as tendinitis, or back, shoulder, arm, and neck pain are also relatively common.
Which Softball Positions are at the most Risk?
While winding for a pitch and delivering the ball itself, pitchers place a lot of stress on the forearm, wrist, back, neck, and shoulder.
Catchers are particularly at risk as they’re exposed to wild pitches, plays at the plate, thrown bats, and collisions when chasing foul balls.
Batters are also at risk of being hit by a pitched ball. For this reason, pitcher helmets are mandatory in most leagues.
Most injuries to base runners come as a result of hard sliding or colliding with infielders.
How to Prevent Injuries in Softball?
Practice is essential for softball success.
However, players should be careful to limit the time spent practicing to an acceptable level and not put too much strain on themselves.
In addition, warm-up before games and practices is essential in injury prevention.
Some stretching, running, and a quick game of catch should do the trick.
Working on technique is also important.
Improper pitching, catching, or batting techniques are often the cause of arm, shoulder, elbow, and wrist injuries.
Furthermore, it goes without saying that players should at all times wear the protective equipment required by their league.
Helmets, face makes, chest and shin guards, and proper cleats play an essential role in injury prevention.
A game of softball involves minimal contact, and, in most cases, it’s unintentional and of low intensity.
This makes this sport rather safe for everyone on and around the field. However, this doesn’t mean that you should forego injury prevention measures.
While relatively rare, injuries still happen and you should do everything in your power to lower the risk.
Injuries can occur not only during games but also in practice.
Be prepared, pace yourself, learn proper techniques for your position, and always use protective gear.
This should reduce injury risk to a minimum and allow you to fully enjoy the game you love.