Softball is a sport that has been around since the late 19th century. With most sports on the rise in terms of participation, softball actually had its lowest participation numbers in the US in 2021 vs. the previous ten years. According to Statista, 8.1 million people in the United States played softball (6.01 million were slow-pitch players, while 2.09 million played fast-pitch). Despite the slowing growth, those that do play, watch, or coach are some of the most passionate people I know. In today's article, we take a look at the best softball books on the market.
Instead of just a laundry list of books, we broke these down into subsections on the history of softball, the mental game of softball, coaching softball, softball biographies, and softball training books. Hopefully, this will make it easier to identify a book or books that align with what you're looking for.
As an aside, how about the women's softball team at the University of Oklahoma? The Sooners are riding a 51-game winning streak as the women's college world series kicks off. The record for most consecutive wins in NCAA men's baseball is 34 games, a record shared by Florida Atlantic (1999) and Texas (1977). The longest winning streak in any NCAA sport is women's basketball. The UCONN Huskies won 111 straight games from 2014-2017.
Before we get into the list, I always find it helpful to take a step back and think about what you're trying to achieve. Put another way, why are you here?
Why Read One of These Books?
I broke things down into 6 areas. As you go through these, you certainly don't need to pick one, but having an idea in mind will help you pick a book that's aligned with your goals.
Skill Development: Softball books often provide detailed instructions, tips, and techniques for various aspects of the game, including hitting, pitching, fielding, base running, and strategy. They can help you understand proper mechanics, improve your technique, and develop a deeper understanding of the game. By learning from experienced coaches and players, you can enhance your skills and become a more proficient softball player.
Tactical Knowledge: Several of these books delve into different game strategies, defensive alignments, offensive plays, and situational awareness. They can teach you how to make effective decisions on the field, understand the dynamics of different positions, and anticipate game situations. Understanding game strategy can give you a competitive edge and contribute to your team's success.
Rules and Regulations: Some books, such as The Blue Book, cover the official rules and regulations of the sport. Familiarizing yourself with the rules can help you avoid penalties and play the game correctly. Additionally, understanding the rules can enhance your overall enjoyment and appreciation of the sport as you gain a deeper understanding of its intricacies.
Coaching and Leadership: Many of these books can be valuable resources for coaches, providing guidance on team management, practice planning, skill development drills, and effective coaching techniques. If you are a coach or aspiring to become one, reading one of these can offer insights into leadership, motivation, and fostering a positive team environment.
Inspiration and Motivation: Many books often feature stories of successful athletes, coaches, and teams who have achieved remarkable accomplishments in the sport. Reading about their journeys, struggles, and triumphs can be highly inspiring and motivational. These stories can help you stay motivated, set goals, and overcome challenges on and off the field.
Historical and Cultural Understanding: Last, a book like Fastpitch dives into the history of the sport, its evolution, and its cultural significance. Books like these can provide insights into the origins of the game, notable players and teams, and the impact of softball on society. This knowledge can deepen your appreciation for the sport and its place in the larger context of sports history.
Like I said, you may have multiple "why's," and that's perfectly ok. Hopefully this list will help you in your journey.
The Best Softball Books
The History of Softball
Author Erica Westly covers the evolution of the sport, including the challenges and obstacles faced by female players and coaches, and highlights some of the most inspiring and influential figures in the game. Through personal stories and interviews with players, coaches, and experts, Westly provides insight into the complexities of the sport and its impact on the lives of those involved. The book also delves into topics such as the business of softball, the science behind the sport, and the ongoing fight for gender equality in sports.
The Mental Game of Softball
Winning State Softball
Knight has written multiple books on mental toughness and takes readers through what he calls "7 mental toughness skills." This is a great read for younger players playing on a travel team or in junior high or high school. The word "toughness" sometimes has negative connotations, but it's really about staying in the moment, not allowing yourself to get distracted or rattled, and staying calm. As parents, frankly it can be hard to have these conversations with teenagers, not because you can't/don't want to, but because they're apprehensive to listen. This is a good way to bridge that gap.
Coaching Softball Books
The Blue Book
Martin has been publishing this series for 14 years! If you're a youth fast pitch coach or player (or even a parent), this is a good investment. As someone that's coached a lot of youth teams (and also been a referee), so many disputes arise from participants simply not knowing or understanding the rules of the game.
Softball Skills & Drills
Once you know the rules, it's important to take your players' skill development to a new level. Judi Garman is one of the winningest coaches in college softball history with 1124 wins! She knows a thing or two about player development and shares her wisdom on how to master fundamentals and compete as a team.
Throw Like A Girl
This is a fantastic book, and we've written about it previously, including it in our Best Motivational Books and also our article on 4 of the Best Sports Books For Your Teen Daughter. Read it, enjoy it, gift it. If you're in search of softball inspirational stories, I'd rank this book at the top of the list. You can learn more about Jennie below.
Rise and Shine
This is a book about dream chasing. Monica Abbott set a goal in 5th grade to become an Olympian. She would go on to win two silver medals as a pitcher for Team USA. From her time at the University of Tennessee to playing professional softball, Abbott takes you through the ups and downs and provides a blueprint of encouragement for any young athletes to follow. This book has made multiple best-seller lists for good reason.
Softball Training Books
The Softball Pitching Edge
Want to pitch better? This is an excellent resource and covers everything, from technique to pitch selection to how to avoid injury. Kempf has been training fast pitch softball pitchers since 1987 and is widely considered the resource when it comes to softball pitching.
Mind of a Superior Hitter
For both baseball and softball players, McCree has some great advice in here from professional hitting coaches on things like hitting slumps, situational batting, and how to bring a more confident approach to the plate. Mind of a Superior Hitter is an elite training book and most appropriate for ages 11 and up. Perspective is a powerful thing, and often just rehearsing some of these situations in your mind can lead to improved outcomes.
Softball is a sport that requires both physical and mental toughness, and the books on this list reflect that. From the history of the sport to personal biographies and training/technique books, hopefully you found what you were looking for.
Have a book that we should check out? Shoot us a note below in the comments section or on our Contact Page.
For additional recommendations on books by sport, check out our Recommendations page, as well as our Blog.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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