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Batter Up!

Family of four playing baseball in their yard

Whether in a pickup game on an empty lot, or an organized match through a youth or adult sports league, baseball and softball are fun ways to get moving, which benefits your long-term health.

The American Cancer Society recommends that children and teens get at least 1 hour of moderate- intensity activity (the level of a brisk walk) or vigorous-intensity activity (the level of a run) every day, with vigorous-intensity activity at least 3 days a week.

Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous- intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week.

Baseball and softball incorporate a lot of activity, including running, swinging a bat, and throwing a ball. They have the same basic rules, with a few differences. Baseball pitchers throw overhand, while softball pitchers throw underhand. Baseballs are smaller than softballs, and bats differ in both size and shape between the two sports. Distance between the pitcher and home plate, and between bases is shorter in softball, and there are only 7 innings per game compared to 9 in baseball. The sports also differ in some rules, including stealing bases and how to break a tie.

Historically, both men and women have always played both baseball and softball. Since baseball was created in 1839, however, leagues have periodically excluded girls and women from playing. Softball was invented about 50 years later, initially as an indoor form of baseball. Over the years, most leagues and schools have encouraged girls to play softball and boys to play baseball.

Safety First

Baseball and softball injuries can be serious. Keep in mind these safety tips from

  • Wear a batting helmet anytime you’re at bat, waiting to bat, and running the bases.
  • If you’re playing catcher, wear protective gear, including a catcher’s helmet, chest protector, and shin guards.
  • Boys should wear an athletic supporter and cup.
  • Get to the field early and warm up.
  • Take practice swings only in a designated area, and watch out for others taking practice swings.
  • Never throw bats or helmets.
  • Watch out for foul balls and if you see one, shout, “Heads up!” to warn others.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.