Wheelchair Softball

Wheelchair softball was started in Sioux Falls, Dakota in the early 1970's. The first ever wheelchair softball team were known as The Sioux Wheelers.

The game of softball was first played on Thanksgiving Day in 1887 in Chicago, Illinois. Softball is a bat and ball game. It is a descendant of the game of baseball with some key differences.

Both games are played on diamond fields, but a softball field is smaller than a baseball field, and a wheelchair softball field is smaller again and must have a hard surface, either asphalt or concrete. There are four bases: home base, 1st base, 2nd base, and 3rd base. The game of wheelchair softball is played by two teams with ten players on each team, and all players must have a wheelchair with footplates.

The objective of the game is to score more runs than the other team by hitting a ball into play and running around the bases.

The game is officiated by one or more umpires. The umpire’s job is to make on-field decisions. The umpire indicates decisions by both signals and by vocalising the call. The calls in which hand signals are used by umpires are Safe, Out, Strike, and Foul Ball.

Safe is made by signalling with hands flat down moving away from each other.

An Out is signalled by the umpire raising his right hand in a clenched fist with a call of “Out”.

A Foul Ball is signalled by raising both arms in the air with a call of “Foul Ball”.

A Strike is signalled just like an Out Call with a call of “Strike”. All decisions made by an umpire are final.

A game usually consists 7 innings. The object in each inning is for the batting team is to score as many runs as possible. The pitching team’s objective is to get the batting team out. When three of the batting team are out, the teams then switch sides in the innings.

The pitcher can get a batter out by a Strikeout, Flyout, Tag Out, or a Force Out.

A Strikeout is when the batter misses the ball consecutively on three occasions, when this occurs the batter is deemed to be out.

A Flyout is when the batter hits the ball into the air and is then caught by a fielder. This is the only time that a ball can be caught out of bounds and still result in a out for the batting team.

A Tag Out occurs when the batter is tagged by an opposing player while the ball is in the catchers hand and before the batter gets to the base.

A Force Out is when a fielder holding the ball touches the base which the batter is running towards.


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Rules

The hitter cannot have a limb in contact with the ground or the ball is dead, the batter is out, and all base runners return to the previous base.

The base runner must be seated in their wheelchair and may tag or make contact with the base using either their hand or with one or more of the wheels of their wheelchair.

If a player is knocked out of their wheelchair, they may proceed to the next or previous base by any means necessary other than by hopping, walking or running. When they get to either the next base or the previous base, they may make contact with the base with any part of their body.

A fielder may not advance towards or play the ball with any lower limb in contact with the ground.

A player may return to their chair and advance toward the ball.

All wheelchair softball teams must have a quadriplegic on their team. If a team does not have a quadriplegic they must play the game a fielder short. When the team is hitting there must be a quadriplegic in the batting line-up and bat in the same position throughout the game. Failure to have a quadriplegic hit in position will be an automatic out. A team must have ten players with at least one paraplegic.

The equipment used in Softball consists of a Softball, Bat, Gloves, Uniform, and Helmet. The Bat used in softball can be made of Wood, Aluminium, or Carbon Fiber. All fielders wear leather gloves. Gloves have webbing between thumb and forefinger. The catcher and first baseman wear mitts. These are different to fielding gloves as they have extra padding and no fingers. The ball used in Softball is made of light material, covered with leather or synthetic material. The ball measures 16 inches in circumference (where a baseball is only 9 inches in circumference). A uniform consists of a cap, sleeveless shirt, undershorts, socks and shorts or pants. A softball helmet must have two ear flaps and a guard.

The benefits of playing softball include helping to improve memory and concentration, improving fitness, and helping to maintain a healthy weight. Playing softball enhances self confidence. It also helps in creating new friendships. Everyone deals with pressures in life, so participating in a sport helps cut down on the pressure as participating in sport helps relieve stress and fight depression. There is also a great support system when playing on a team.


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