Most sports such as basketball, football, and ice hockey have set game times, and it’s clear when the game will end for everybody. However, it isn’t so in softball, which can make the game times change drastically and make it unclear when it ends.
So, how long do softball games last? On average, a softball game lasts 1.5 hours; however, it varies depending on the game. A regulation game has 7 innings but can be set between 3 and 7 innings. An inning will end when both teams have batted until three outs. In case of a tie in the seventh inning, a tiebreaker rule will begin.
That being said, the only knowledge about the game’s length is the number of innings per game. If you want a further knowledge about the rules regarding softball’s time or other rules, check out the Official Rules of Softball and USSSA Rules.
Anyways, to determine the game’s length more accurately, we need to learn more about innings.
What Is an Inning?
Normally you see halftimes, periods, and rounds when looking at sports and the sections they have been set. However, in softball and baseball, the sections of the game are called innings. So, what are they?
An inning is a basic unit of play in softball and baseball. The regulation amount of innings per game is 7, but it can be anywhere between 3 to 7. Each inning consists of two halves where the other team bats, the other defends, and vice versa. Each turn will end when the batting team has three outs.
There are some exceptions to the game and inning length that you should know about.
First, there is the run rule. A run rule awards a victory to a team with a 12-run lead after 3 completed innings or 2 1/2 innings if it’s the home team. The same rule applies if a team has a 10-run lead after 4 innings, or 3 1/2 innings if it’s the home team, or an 8-run lead after 5 innings, or 4 1/2 innings if it’s the home team.
Therefore, if one team performs that much better in that match than the other, it will end the game quicker. And even if the run rule isn’t reached, but one team reaches the three outs very fast each time, the game can end rather quickly even with the full seven innings.
However, a tiebreaker procedure will begin if a game isn’t a smashing victory for the other team, but it’s a fierce battle to the seventh inning that ends in a tie.
A tiebreaker rule is set after completing the seventh inning when both teams are at a tie.
The Official Rules of Softball rule 5 section 3.b. states that the game shall be continued by playing extra innings, or until one side has scored more runs than the other at the end of a complete inning, or until the team second at bat has scored more runs in their half of the inning before the third out is made.
In most cases, the game will last 7 innings if it is designated so. The run-rule or the tiebreaker is rarely seen, but they still happen. The softball game will often last between one to two hours with a 1.5-hour average.
How Long Is a Youth Softball Game?
The time rules for youth softball aren’t as loose as kids aren’t as consistent in performance, meaning the games could last forever if a time limit weren’t set.
How long do youth softball games last? A youth softball game has a time limit of 1 hour and 40 minutes or 5 innings, whichever comes first. The rule includes that no new innings are started after 1 hour and 25 minutes, and extra innings aren’t used as ties are allowed in normal season play.
These are the NYS rules for 10-12-year-olds, so these rules may and often will change for younger players. This is because younger players aren’t as advanced, which means that the innings can be very short, meaning that all players don’t have a chance of playing.
There are some usual modifications that you can make for younger players, such as:
- Reduce the field size or/and number of bases
- Give each player a batting turn regardless of 3 outs
- Give each player 3 swinging turns
- Limit the number of scores per inning
- Use bigger or/and softer softball
- Use thicker bats
- Add a 4th outfielder
These are just a handful of ideas that you can use and are already used in many softball games with little children. The point of youth softball is to have fun and get skills to play proper softball with great memories when they are older.
I remember how great it was when I was a kid when such rules were in use because it wasn’t great being the 9th batter that can never bat or advance even to the first base.
The five Little League Softball divisions are
- Tee Ball 4-5 years old
- Minor League 5-11 years old
- Little League (Major Division) 9-12 years old
- Junior Division 12-14 years old
- Senior Division 13-16 years old
How Long Do College Softball Games Last?
Given that little league has a different set of rules than regulation-based softball, what is the case with college softball?
How long do college softball games last? College softball follows the official softball rules, meaning that a game has seven innings that last 1.5hours on average. Depending on the game, it can be longer if a tiebreaker rule is initiated, or if a run-rule is reached, it can be considerably shorter.
To learn more about college softball, check out the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) site, as they have much value to provide!
My Favorite Softball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Here are my top softball equipment recommendations that I think will take your game to the next level.
- Bat: My favorite certified fastpitch softball bat is the Easton Ghost. This bat has a double-barrel construction which is incredible if you are looking for a great feel and are a fan of satisfying pop and sound. The handle is a great bonus as it’s great to hold on to and very thin. The technology used for this bat provides great durability and flexibility. This bat comes in various styles and sizes.
- Softball: The best softballs, in my opinion, are the Franklin Sports Official Softballs. These affordable yet official featured balls are perfect for practice if you want to train with a similar ball as in a real game. These balls have the official 12-inch circumference and weight. The yellow color makes it easy to spot, and the flat seams enable minimal air resistance so that they will fly consistently and far.
- Glove: Rawlings Liberty Advanced Fastpitch Glove should be introduced to every softball player. The 12.5″ size makes it a breeze to catch and secure softballs. The glove is very comfortable as it’s made from full-grain leather, and the pull-staps will perfect the fit. The design is breathtaking as well. Be prepared for a little break-in time tho.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.