There are many versions of softball and levels of competition to cater for different age groups and abilities. While each of these versions tends to share common terminology, they often have variations on the standard rules of Softball.
The Official Playing Rules 2014-2017 (adapted for local conditions from the ISF Official Rules of Softball is used for all Australian Championships, national events run by Softball Australia and international events hosted by Softball Australia. In the case of Australian Championships, these rules are supplemented by the Australian Championship Regulations.
When starting out it's important to know some basic softball terminology and rules including:
Fielding positions: players are positioned on the field to cover as much area as possible. According to the rules, all players, except the catcher, must be in fair territory when the pitch is released. The pitcher must be on the plate and the catcher must be in the catcher's box.
Fair territory: this is the entire area between first and third bases, including the lines between those bases and home plate and the extension of those lines to the outfield limits or home run fence
Fair ball: any ball that comes to rest in the infield or first touches the ground in the outfield within fair territory
Foul territory: any area outside fair territory
Foul ball: any ball that comes to rest in the infield or first touches the ground in the outfield anywhere outside fair territory
Strike zone: the space over any part of home plate between the batter's armpits and the top of their knees when they assume a natural batting stance (see diagram)
A strike: a batter is only allowed three strikes. A strike is:A ball: any pitched ball that does not pass through the strike zone and is not swung at by the batter. After four balls, the batter is allowed a walk to first base.
- Any ball that passes through the strike zone that the batter does not hit
- Any ball that does not pass through the strike zone, but the batter attempts to hit but misses
Other basic rules are listed in the terminology section of About softball.