Shorts or Pants For Softball Players? (Back at the Beginning)


Softball players can choose to wear shorts or pants. NCAA rules provide for the option for either in their rules. However, all players on the same team must be dressed in the same manner.

In this article, I will provide information showing why the answer to the question about whether or not softball players can wear shorts is not an easy yes or no. Read on to find out more about shorts and softball. 

Back at the Beginning

Records show women playing baseball as early as 1860. The first women’s professional league was formed in the 1940s. Initially, the leagues main purpose was to fill ballparks during the second World War.

The league started as a softball, then rules were modified to baseball. 

However, the key note here is about the uniforms. When women first started playing baseball, they wore skirts. “Femininity is the keynote of our league; no pants-wearing, tough-talking female softballer will play on any of our four teams,” Carey, one of the players in the initial league said. 

Looking back, we would think the skirts offered no true function for a softball player. The focus certainly seems to be on femininity and not athleticism. Women’s sports have changed dramatically since the 1940s. 

Evolving to shorts might have been considered a step toward a more functional uniform from the lady-like skirts. 

Shorts allowed players more movement than the pants available to women. Until recently many of the women’s uniforms were adapted versions of men’s uniforms, so shorts provided a necessary option. 

Considering Heat 

Shorts give us the feel of summer. And what’s more summer-like than a softball game at the local park? Many players like the comfort of shorts on the softball diamond on a 100 degree summer day. 

Shorts are considered by many to be cooler to wear in the heat. However, with the knee-high socks and shorts, there is not a perceptible difference in how hot a player feels on the softball field. 

And there are other concerns

Softball is a physical sport. Aggressive baserunning requires sliding into bases as an option. When players wear shorts, they wear padded compression undergarments to protect their thighs and glutes from scrapes and injury. 

Short Alone Are Often Not Enough

Under the uniform shorts, the compression shorts continually slide out of place. So the out of place compression shorts did not truly provide protection from abrasions and bruises. 

Taping and retaping of the shorts was needed to provide players the protection they sought. In addition to the lack of protection, this added discomfort for the players. 

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Uniform Pants Offer Additional Protection From

Sliding

Wearing the compression shorts under uniform pants offers more protection. This provides more confidence in the players to slide aggressively without reduced fear of injury. Long pants provide protection for the entire length of the leg. 

Sliding wounds are difficult to heal. The players are sliding on dirt, which if it enters the wound can cause infections. Other sports that do wear shorts such as soccer are not playing or sliding in dirt. 

Cleating

Additionally, when sliding players can be cleated. Pants will provide some protection from the cleats wounding a player. The pants provide a barrier between the cleats and the player’s skin, which will reduce the chance of cutting into the skin. 

Functionality

Uniforms and the materials they are made from have evolved dramatically. Women’s uniforms are no longer just an adaptation of men’s uniforms. Many companies are now making uniforms to fit a female’s body. 

The tailoring of the fit and the refining of design to address functionality have made pants more preferable to the female softball player. Designers are creating women’s uniforms that truly fit, and perform optimally for womens movements.

Materials used to make uniforms of today are lighter and more breathable. This addresses the concern of pants being too oppressive to wear on hot summer days on the ballfield, offering a shorts like breathability to the wearer.

Professionalism 

Many players today feel that wearing pants makes them more professional. In many venues of society, pants are worn and not shorts. Baseball players briefly experimented with shorts. Lack of professionalism was one of the reasons cited for the fleeting trial. 

Shorts are worn for practice and training. So when it is game time, upping the ante and wearing the team’s uniform pants adds to the feeling of being the best in the game and accomplished in your field.  

It takes a team

So the decision on shorts or pants is not for one player to make. If I am an advocate for shorts, I need to convince my entire team to wear shorts. A team decision is needed so all players are wearing the same components of the uniform. You want your team in agreement at game time.

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