Slow-pitch softball is one of the most popular sports in the United States. One of the charms of softball is the way new ideas and rules are constantly adopted to keep up with changes in the game. One of the older variations from the original game of softball was the addition of an extra, or 10th, fielder. The extra fielder was added in large part to give more people a chance to participate.
Consider which player should be the extra fielder. The chosen player should have the appropriate defensive skills to handle the selected position in the field. Weigh the advantage that will be gained defensively with the player's batting skills. Consider the defensive abilities of the players who will be adjacent to the extra fielder.
Know the opposition. Be aware of whether the opposing team has a lot of power, or is more of a singles-hitting team. Know how many runs the opposing team usually scores and consider their baserunning speed. Some teams score a lot by hitting home runs or long balls in the outfield gaps. Others do it with line drives and aggressive baserunning.
Take into account the size of the field, and whether it has a fence. Know whether there are any home run rules in the game. Home run rules limit or completely ban the number of balls that are allowed to be hit over a fence.
Place the player in the field based on the above considerations. The most common way to position a 10th fielder is as an extra outfielder. In this alignment, the four outfielders form an arc with a left fielder, left-center fielder, right-center fielder and right fielder. Another spot in which an extra fielder is often placed is behind second base, resulting in a five-man infield. The more common four-man outfield is best employed against teams that don't have exceptional bat control, and hit a lot of balls to the outfield. The five-man infield is generally used against teams that are very good at hitting balls up the middle, or into the biggest hole in the infield.
- If a field has a short fence, and the game has restricted home rules, it is often a good idea to use a five-man infield. If a team is not allowed to hit the ball over the fence, it will compensate by trying to hit low line drives that won't clear the fence. Don't be afraid to move the extra fielder around. When an opposing team gets in a good groove hitting line drives, try to change its momentum by adding a fifth outfielder. If the other teams is hitting into gaps in the outfield, or taking extra bases on base hits, it's time to add the extra outfielder.
- It can be very dangerous to play a five-man infield, if the players in a three-man outfield don't have the speed to cover the gaps and foul lines. In a three-man outfield, it is more imperative to have players with strong throwing arms. In a three-man outfield, the outfielders will have to make more throws. They will also often throw on the run after moving to their left or right.