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There is a mathematical method to the win zone. Tatem Stoelting, Denton, Texas, knows being aggressively accurate ensures friend will likewise be continual as a plate umpire. (Photo Credit: USA Softball)

The softball strike zone has not changed because that a lengthy time; it is still the region explicitly described in the rules because that each softball code. There are slight differences in the rule among the password so let’s start with these definitions from each of the codes:

NFHS and USSSA soft ball — forward armpit to the optimal of the knees, any part of ball.

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USA soft ball — the armpit come the top that the knees; any component of ball.


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NCAA — bottom the the sternum to the optimal of the knees, top of the ball.

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Area above Home Plate 

To gain a much better perspective of an actual strike zone, that is helpful to visualize it as a hexahedron (also referred to as a cuboid) above the entire plate. Visualize this threedimensional zone above the plate with the peak at the armpit (NCAA — bottom of sternum), the bottom at the optimal of the knees, and two that its sides directly over the external edges of the plate.

Judge the pitch as it crosses the entire plate, not simply the former of the plate. Pitchers who throw great drop and rise balls need to be offered this entire zone.

Horizontal Zone 


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The horizontal facet of the strike zone contains the 17 inches of the plate add to the outer edge that the ball. The diameter of the ball is 3.82 inches. By consisting of this extension for both sides of the plate, the actual (and “callable”) strike zone is 24.64 inches wide. If the circumference of the round barely grazes the plate, the is a strike if it likewise satisfies the vertical zone. This horizontal aspect is fixed and is the exact same for every batter.

Vertical Zone 


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The vertical element of the strike zone is figured out by the armpit (or bottom that sternum because that NCAA) and the peak of the knee as the pitch crosses the plate. This vertical aspect is variable, dependent ~ above the distance indigenous the batter’s upper limit and also her knees. It changes from batter come batter; the is inexplicable for batters to have the same specific height and organic batting stance. That is more likely the an umpire will have actually as many as 18 different strike zones during a video game (for starting players), and probably much more as substitutes are entered.

All batters carry out not have a stance with both knees at the very same height. We are currently seeing much more batters with a view in which one knee is lower 보다 the other knee as soon as they establish their organic batting stance in the batter’s box.

Umpires must recognize this and be conscious that the tip to use is the optimal of the knee closer to the ground together the bottom parameter for the zone.

Home Plate as It applies to the Strike Zone 

How often have girlfriend heard, “That ball hit the corner” or “Hey, Blue, the plate has actually corners”? Yes, it does have corners. There are actually five corners on the plate. People are typically referring to the front corners in the above quotes, but none that the five corners identify a strike. Because that a key to it is in a to win for its horizontal aspect, it should touch a side that the plate which is parallel to the batter’s box line.

Tips for Calling the win Zone 

We have to work for an accurate strike zone transparent the game. In the past, there has actually been an emphasis on gift consistent also as accurate. We should no much longer be talking around consistency since if accuracy is our height priority, our zone will it is in consistent.

With that in mind, an aggressive strike ar is far better than a tight strike zone. This walk not typical you call strikes that are not strikes.



What is the difference? An aggressive strike ar means the umpire walk not miss out on the strikes at the outer edges that the zone.

A tight zone suggests the umpire is missing those strikes.

Use your Tools

The first step is to realize that, as plate umpires, we have actually a valuable tool in our kit — ours brush. Allow your catchers and batters understand from the start — by interacting nonverbally with that tool — friend are very aware of the external edges that the plate and will speak to them.

After the defense has actually finished its warmup pitches in its half of the first inning, wait till both the batter and catcher are in the area of the plate. Do a little bit of a manufacturing by sweeping off the external edges on both political parties of the plate as well as the plate itself. Proceed to carry out this in ~ the beginning of each half-inning, for this reason the batters and catchers have constant reminders the the corners are strikes (within the upright zone).

If there is black about the outside edges of the plate, it is not included in the 17 inch of the horizontal zone. However we recognize if the pitch grazes the external edges, a strike contact is a good call. And we also know the catchers will frequently tell their teammates what type of zone “Blue” is calling. We perform not have actually to be rocket scientists to realize that the more hitters swing, the fewer pitches must be called. One huge caveat — follow v with this through ringing up strikes ~ above the outside edges or all this effort is wasted.

Taking the Vertical aspect to Another measurement (3D) 

Warning, there will be math. As far as the vertical dimensions the the strike zone, right here are part statistics for college soft ball athletes, taken from multiple studies (use these together a reference; obviously, they would be different depending on the period level of the game):

One of the smallest players who played college softball was 4’11”The tallest players do not get much taller 보다 6’2”The average height of a college softball player is in between 5’6” and 5’7”The median distance native the bottom the the sternum to the top of the knees for a 5’7” mrs is about 22”

Putting every these factors together, it can be stated that the strike zone for an mean college soft ball player is an area that is 24.64 inch wide, 17 inch in depth and has a vertical length the 22 inches. This translates to just over 5.3 cubic feet for the strike zone because that an typical college player. Different batters’ heights result in different vertical elements for each batter and also taking the the smallest and tallest players, the to win zone could range native 4.75 cubic feet (player height 4’11”) come 5.95 cubic feet (player height 6’2”).

Obviously, we are not thinking about the cubic area that the region as we gain into our set. The important factor is that you visualize that cubic area as you get collection for the pitch. Then, continue to be with the pitch for the entire area over the plate.

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John Bennett, Anaheim, Calif., works NCAA, high school and travel softball, and is involved with training umpires at all levels. He operated the 2014 NCAA Division II championships and also multiple other championship series.