All softballs may seem similar to the untrained eye, but there are differences that you should know about before you buy some for your team or league. Size, COR, and compression are the main things to be concerned with.
Size is the first measurement to consider. Size will depend on the rules of your league. Softballs come in different sizes. In fastpitch, the standard size is 12”, but younger youth leagues may use an 11” or even a 10” ball. In slowpitch softball, either an 11” or 12” ball is used. If you are from Chicago, you may know that the game was first played in the Windy City, and that 16” softballs were used. They were perfect for small neighborhood parks as the ball did not travel as far. In Chicago, the game is still played with 16 inch balls and no gloves.
The COR measurement tells how bouncy a softball is. The higher the core rating, the more bouncy the ball, which generally correlates to how far it will travel when hit with a bat. Here is what the measurement means: If a softball is thrown at a wall at 60 miles per hour and it bounces off that wall at 30 miles per hour, its experienced a 50% reduction in speed. The COR would be measured at .50. Most leagues use a ball around .44 or .47 COR. A change from a Cor of .44 to a COR of .47 would result in a 6% performance increase. This means that a 240-foot out with a .44 COR ball would turn into a 254-foot home run with a .47 COR ball.
The last measurement to be concerned with is compression. This is basically a measure of how hard the ball is. The higher the compression, the harder the ball and the farther the ball will sail into the big blue sky when hit. Compression measures how many pounds of force is required to squeeze two sides of the softball in by one-quarter of an inch. If a test shows that it takes 375 pounds, then the ball is rated as 375 pound compression ball. Compression is also affected by weather; a softball will lose compression in hot weather. A wet ball will initially experience an increase in compression, but as more moisture is absorbed, compression will decrease.
Once you know what ball you need for your team or league, go online and look for the best prices. Balls are often sold by the dozen or by the bucket. To help you make your decision, check out these lists of the best softballs on the market today.
Best ASA Softballs:
To many, softball may seem like a less competitive version of baseball yet others take the sport very seriously. Whether playing at the top levels of competition or among amateur leagues, one thing can determine performance and that’s the type of softball being used. Some leagues have specific rules and guidelines determining which softballs can and can’t be used during play. Softball sizes range from 10 inches to the more common 12 inch softballs, while obscure leagues use even larger 16-inch balls used when the sport was first founded. Younger leagues tend to use the smaller ball, progressing in age and level of skill.
Governing body rules aside, the softballs on our best list were chosen because of four key factors that make them quality softballs. Each ball was selected because it had a COR measurement of .44 or higher, a compression rating of 375, high quality seams and durable leather or quality synthetic outer covering and solid ball construction. Many softballs have lower COR ratings, which will make for shorter hit distances, or are made from cheap nylon materials; however, the quality balls on this list are made to last and will give every at bat solid distance.
Two important factors to look at when buying softballs is the COR measurement and the compression rating. The COR, or the coefficient of restitution, is the term used to indicate how bouncy the ball is. The higher the COR rating, the bouncier the ball, which translates to a much farther distance the ball will travel when hit by a bat; simply put, it offers better pop. COR is measured as a decimal such as .44 or .47. The higher the decimal equates to an increased rate the softball will soar after being hit against a bat. Our best list includes fast pitch balls with a rating higher than .44.
Compression is measured in a three digit number and is the measure of how hard the softball is. The compression indicates how many pounds of force are required to squeeze the two sides of the ball by one-quarter of an inch. So if the ball is rated 375 pounds of compression, it takes 375 pounds to squeeze the ball one-quarter of an inch. Why is this important? The higher the compression rating, the more pounds required to squeeze the ball, the farther the ball will travel when hit by a bat. A ball with a compression rating of 275 is softer and will not go as far as a ball with a rating of 525. Compression can also be affected by weather, humidity, and moisture, but for the most part it’s a simple rating. The balls we’ve selected have a compression rating higher than 375; anything lower will be too soft and won’t travel.
The last two factors to consider when deciding which softball is best to use, whether on the field during play or during practice, is the seam and the construction of the ball. Seams vary slightly, meaning they are flat or raised; however the material of the ball can be made of durable leather, synthetic blend or other materials. The core of the softball, its durability and materials, also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer so take your time when deciding between brands, focus on construction not simply the name. This list includes balls with both flat and raised seams, but constructed of thicker material to offer a better grip. They are also manufactured using leather or a strong synthetic, but not using nylon or cheaper materials.
The Worth Red Dot Softball has a high rating of .47 COR and a 375 pound compression rating which is among the top performing softballs. Yet, the ball is construction using high quality leather and durable proprietary cork materials which offer the best quality softball on the market. Using such high quality material, the Red Dot is sure to take hit after hit without falling apart like other cheap softballs. Read Full Review
The Dudley SB12 has one of the highest ratings for softballs, providing player’s great distance at every at bat. The solid cork and leather construction make the balls great for everyday practice use as well as during games. The raised laces make the Dudley SB12 a favorite for pitcher, who use the laces to help guide different more complicated pitches. Read Full Review
The Worth Dream Seam fast pitch softball has a high rating of .47 COR and a 375 pound compression rating which is among the top performing softballs. The softball is constructed using Worth’s proprietary three-piece construction and cork core materials offer you a durable, quality softball. The raised seam offers field players and pitchers the right amount of control and movement for consistent pitching and throwing play after play. Read Full Review
The Decker Red Shark SuperGrip is a great choice for players. It is a softball with solid and quality construction, providing players with great durability over long term use. One of the most underrated softballs on the market, players tend to get much more distance than they expect and find the rating is better than indicated. Read Full Review
The Evil Ball 44/375 HOT is a great choice for heavy hitters. The softball offers great performance from rounds and rounds of Harmonic Optimization Technology (HOT) testing focusing on frequency patterns from bat swings. The ball is made from a solid polyurethane core and sealed with Vapor Block technology. It offers great pop and distance, but may not hold up to daily hitting. Read Full Review
Best Slowpitch Softball:
Whether playing in a slow pitch or fast pitch softball league, the type of ball you use can either help or hinder performance. While certain leagues dictate rules and guidelines concerning the type of softball that can be used, size or governing body approval ratings, there are a few must-haves of a great slow pitch softball.
The softballs on this list were chosen because of four key factors that make them quality balls. Each ball was selected because it had a COR measurement of .44 or higher. COR is the coefficient of restitution. It is the term used to indicate how bouncy the ball is. The higher the COR rating, the bouncier the ball, which translates to a much farther distance that the ball will travel when hit by a bat, or simply put, it offers better pop. COR is measured as a decimal such as .44 or .47. The higher the decimal equates to an increased rate the softball will soar after being hit against a bat.
Our best list includes fast pitch balls with a rating higher than .44.The list also features softballs with a compression rating of 300 or higher. While higher ratings are often used in fast pitch, many lower ratings are used in slow pitch to avoid injury. Compression is measured in a three digit number and is the measure of how hard the softball is. The compression indicates how many pounds of force is required to squeeze the two sides of the ball by one-quarter of an inch. So if the ball is rated 375 pounds of compression, it takes 375 pounds to squeeze the ball one-quarter of an inch.
Why is this important? The higher the compression rating, the more pounds required to squeeze the ball, the farther the ball will travel when hit by a bat. So a ball with a compression rating of 275 is softer and will not go as far as a ball with a rating of 525. Compression can also be affected by weather, humidity and moisture; but for the most part is a simple rating. These balls have a compression rating higher than 300 to account for the slower pitch speeds.
Two other important factors to consider when selecting slow pitch softballs is the construction of the ball and the quality of the materials. These balls were chosen because they’re made using high quality leather or polyurethane outer coverings versus nylon or other cheaper materials. They also feature solid interior core construction using strong polyurethane. These materials will offer quality balls that will last over repeated use during practices and games, without falling apart right away.
The Worth Launch 650 slow pitch softball has a rating of .50 COR and 650 pound compression, making it the top performing slow pitch ball out there. Offering high performance during games, this ball will travel far and maybe even turn into a home run. Read Full Review
The Dudley Thunder Heat slow pitch softball is a high quality ball rated at .44 COR with 375 pounds of compression. They are durable balls that will offer great distance during a game yet strong enough to withstand the constant abuse of batting practice. Read Full Review
The Worth Hot Dot slow pitch softball is a .52 COR rated ball at 300 pounds of compression. It’s a favorite among heavy hitters and less powerful players. It offers great durability, quality construction, and fantastic pop. Every player will be happy with the performance of this ball. Read Full Review
The Decker Red Big Shark is a slow pitch softball with a .52 COR rating with 300 pounds of compression. This is a high quality, long lasting softball which will withstand constant batting during practices, while giving players great distance. Read Full Review
The Thunder ZN slow pitch softball is a high quality professional grade softball. It features a high .44 COR rating at 525 pounds of compression, meaning the ball will fly off the bat. The materials used to make the ball are durable polyurethane interior and composite covering offering durability. However, it is best suited for the beatings administered during batting practice. Read Full Review