They had such a good time that the Farragut Boat Club members spread their new sport to the city’s other clubs.
Two years later, George Hancock, one of the original participants in the first indoor baseball game, had written an official set of rules for the sport.
Its popularity spread throughout the Midwest and soon, to the rest of the country.
This indoor baseball game in Chicago is thought to be the first iteration of what would become modern softball.
And since it was played indoors with a smaller field and shorter baselines, pitchers used a relatively slow underhand toss instead of the typical overhand pitch found in baseball.
As it gained popularity in the first decades of the twentieth century, indoor baseball was moved outside, where more spectators could watch.
In 1933, when softball debuted at the Chicago’s World Fair, the softer underhand toss had evolved into the fastpitch motion we’d recognize today, which is competitive and hard to hit.
The men and women who played softball in the ensuing decades would play this version of softball. Slowpitch softball, which involves gently lobbing the ball to the batter, was seen as a children’s game at the time.
Today, fastpitch and slowpitch softball are both popular, though fastpitch might be edging ahead.
As more girls and young women across the U.S. sign up for fastpitch softball, the windmill motion becomes more visible and more well-researched.
#Is the Softball Windmill Better for Your Arm Than Baseball Pitching?
For many years, softball players, coaches, and trainers argued that the softball pitching motion causes less damage to your shoulder and arm than a baseball pitch.
The underhand throw is supposed to be more “natural” for the body and the windmill’s greater emphasis on lower body strength takes some pressure off the arm and shoulder.
The windmill and baseball pitch use different motions, but the notion that the windmill is natural and causes no damage to your shoulder or arm is false.
For many years there was not enough data on softball pitchers and so the “no-damage” idea proliferated. But the cat's out of the bag.
📊 Study Conclusion: Recent studies have shown that the windmill motion does indeed put pressure on your body and may lead to damage or injury. Softball pitchers are subject to high joint loads just like baseball pitchers are.
A 1998 study of softball pitchers found that the elbow reaches a maximum compressive force of 70 percent of body weight.
Another 2009 study found that the windmill, with its sudden snap at the end of the motion, puts more stress on the biceps than an overhand throw.
One of the greatest risks cited by most studies on the softball pitching motion is overuse.
Baseball pitchers often have limits on how much they can throw per game and per week, from the youngest players up to the major leagues.
Softball players have no such limits and pitch significantly more than their baseball counterparts.
Pitchers on travel ball teams on average throw 1.5 games per day over a weekend tournament. Having this average means that tossing 2-3 games per day is not uncommon.
High school and college softball teams will have a pitching staff of between one and four players, whereas baseball pitchers will make up half the roster.
🔑 Key Insight: High-level softball pitchers throw more innings and more often than their baseball counterparts. Because softball players tend to pitch more than baseball pitchers, they’re more likely to become fatigued and their muscles will overcompensate, potentially leading to injury.
Researchers in this area ask whether coaches and trainers should limit softball pitchers’ throwing time to help avoid unnecessary risks. But, so far, no national safety standards have been established.