The Real Health Benefits Of Playing Softball

Team sports have long held a reputation for their social, mental, and physical benefits. Each sport comes with its own advantages and drawbacks, of course, and softball is no exception. As explained by Busy Playing Softball, one of the biggest benefits unique to softball is that it is a stick-and-ball game with limited risk to players' shoulders and elbows. Baseball pitchers are highly susceptible to joint injuries in these areas, but by using an underhand pitch, softball is gentler on the joints and comes with fewer risks.

That is not to say that softball is risk-free. Another benefit of the sport is that training for softball increases flexibility (via Health Fitness Revolution). This is especially true of the hamstrings, hip flexors, pecs, and calves. Softball's style of play works out most muscle groups, but these areas are put under particular strain. Without proper stretching, they can sustain injury. As beneficial as flexibility and safer levels of joint strain are, the real health benefits of softball lie in the way players use energy and their hand-eye coordination.

Coordination and conditioning

Making contact with the ball in sports like baseball and softball is a key aspect of the game, and doing so requires hand-eye coordination. Busy Playing Softball lists this benefit of the game, along with the sport's tendency to improve players' quickness or reaction time. This skill goes beyond sports, however. Handwriting, grasping objects, and eating are all skills that require hand-eye coordination (via Beyond the Clinic).

Just as the benefits of hand-eye coordination training go beyond the sport, so does the deepest health benefit. Health Fitness Revolution explains that softball's gameplay style requires explosive movement — specifically when catching a ball, throwing it to another player, or striking it with a bat — mingled with longer periods of active rest. This combination gives softball the benefits of anaerobic exercise, which include strengthening bones, burning fat, and strengthening muscles, according to Piedmont Healthcare. This anaerobic effect combines with softball's other benefits to make it a total body workout.