Abstract. Dickson, N., Ruot, C., Madeson, M., and Edwards, L. A descriptive and comparative study of physical and performance characteristics of NCAA Division II and Division III softball players.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe and compare the physical and performance characteristics of Division II and III softball players. This research also aimed to collect physical and performance measurements to begin the establishment of normative data on college softball players

Methods: Participants included two teams of female varsity National College Athletic Association Division (NCAA) II (N=19) and III (N=16) student-athletes. Athletes were evaluated prior to the softball season on select physical and performance characteristics; including height, weight, body composition, lean body mass, right and left grip strength, batted-ball velocity, throwing velocity, running speed, and vertical power. An independent t-test was performed to determine statistically significant differences between the Division II and Division III softball players.

Results: Results of the physical and performance measures are illustrated in Table 1.

Table 1.

Physical and Performance measures of DII and DIII softball players.

Measurements (mean) DII DIII

Height(in) 61.64 64.2

Weight(lbs) 146.95 148.94

Body composition 24.26 24.66

Lean body mass 115.08 111.47

Grip strength R(kg) 31.42 32.66

Grip strength L(kg) 28.73 28.66

Batted-ball velocity(mph) 61.46* 56.44

Throwing velocity(mph) 52.24 53.44

Running speed(sec) 6.25 6.07

Vertical Power(in) 14.88 14.45


The results of the study indicated that the only variable found to be statistically significant was batted-ball velocity (t (33) = -2.706, p = 0.011). Results showed no other statistically significant differences in physical and performance characteristics.

Discussion: The results of this study suggest that the physical and performance characteristics of DII and DIII softball players are similar, with the only significant difference being observed in the batted-ball velocity. This difference suggests that DII athletes are able to hit the ball harder than DIII athletes. Examination of Table 1 indicates that, although not significant, lean body mass is greater in DII than in DIII. A higher lean body mass suggests more muscle which in turn may translate into greater batted-ball velocity.

The research perhaps suggests that differences in performance of DII and DIII players may be attributed to some additional factors other than the physical and performance characteristics measured in this study. Further research is needed in identifying the characteristics of various levels of collegiate softball players. Subsequently, the establishment of normative data pertaining to collegiate softball will help potential collegiate softball players and coaches understand what physical and performance characteristics are needed to compete at different collegiate levels.



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