Softball rules for pitchers in 10-and-under, or 10U, leagues reflect the fact that players are relatively new to pitching at this level. Rules of the American Softball Association, or ASA, allow 10U pitchers to throw the softball from a shorter distance and use a smaller ball for an easier grip. Some recreational 10U leagues limit the innings a player can pitch or use a pitching machine for half of the game.
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Distance to Home Plate
In fast-pitch softball leagues for players 10 years old and younger, or 10U, the ASA requires pitchers to throw the ball from a distance of 35 feet. In slow-pitch leagues, the distance from the pitcher's rubber to home plate is 40 feet, according to ASA regulations.
Taking into account younger pitchers' smaller hands, 10U leagues use 11-inch softballs that weigh at least 6 ounces, in contrast to the 12-inch ball used by 12U leagues and above.
According to All Experts.com's Dr. Mark R. Ambrose, a professional ASA umpire, 10U pitchers must start with both feet on the pitching rubber and with their hands separated. At the start of the pitcher's motion, she must bring her hands together for one to 10 seconds. She may drop one arm to the side before starting the windmill motion. Pitchers are required to drag the back foot along the ground, avoiding an illegal crow hop or leap, the pitchsoftball.com website states.
Pitchers who have left the position, but who have not left the batting order, can return to pitch again at any time during the game, ASA rules state. However, guidelines for 10U recreational softball leagues vary on the number of innings a pitcher can play the position. Some city recreational leagues also use a combination of pitching machine, coach pitch or player pitch in 10U leagues, to avoid excessive walks given by inexperienced pitchers.
ASA rules limit regulation 10U games to 1 hour and 40 minutes, unless extra time is needed to finish a complete inning. Each team may call three conferences when the coach comes out to the pitcher's mound, according to ASA rules for 10U players. If the coach comes out for a fourth meeting, the pitcher must leave the position to return to the dugout or play another position on defense.