Softball's Designated Player (DP) and "Flex" rules

Not sure if this should be in the General Sports forum or if softball is close enough to baseball for it to belong here, but as someone about to commentate on my first-ever softball game on Sunday, I thought I'd solicit some opinions on the DP and FLEX rules and how they differ from the pure DH rule in baseball. For those of you more familiar with softball than I am, do they work well? Do they work better than the DH rule does in baseball? The DP/FLEX rules sure seem confusing, even when explained in shorthand form...for example check out and this explanation of how the rules work:

Basic Softball Substitution Rules:
  • DP can play any position on defense
  • DP and Flex titles never terminated even when used
  • Team member numbers can go from 10 to 9 or 9 to 10 an unlimited number during the game
  • If DP replaces a defensive player that isn’t the FLEX, the defensive player will still get to bat
  • DP and Flex can play defense simultaneously
  • DP and Flex cannot play offense simultaneously, because the only position a Flex can replace in offense is the DP
  • DP, Flex, and substitutes are all to be in same the same spot in batting order
Any thoughts?


Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Aug 31, 2001
Central VA
Honestly, most of the benefits of this rule wouldn't be realized in baseball due to the difference in substitution rules. In softball, any player that was in the original lineup can re-enter once.(ie after being pinch-hit or pinch-run for).

In thinking about how a softball coach might use the DP/Flex, it really depends on your roster.

A very typical deployment would be a big, power-hitting/poor fielding DP hitting for a smaller, lesser hitter who is probably a little faster. If the DP gets on later in the game, or even in a big spot early in the game, the flex can run for the DP. Flex can play offense for the DP an unlimited number of times, but when the DP comes out it counts as a substitution for them.

If you had a number of pretty good hitters and one speed demon, you could put the speed demon as flex, and run every time your DP got on without worrying about losing your DP, as you have similar hitters on the bench.

If you have several speed demons and one hitter that is better than the rest, you can put that hitter as flex and your first speed demon in the DP spot. Then keep having your flex hit for your DP, but returning the DP to the lineup if the flex gets on base.

Pitchers in softball are also more likely to be good hitters, so the ability to mark your pitcher as a DP, then at the beginning of the game declare that your DP is going to play defense for your pitcher allows you to keep that bat in the lineup if you make a pitching change.

Of course, the most common is to have a P/Flex with the DP hitting for the pitcher. This is for the same reasons that it happens in baseball -- you don't want your pitcher getting injured or fatigued, or you need them to focus their practices on pitching.

I learned about the DP/Flex from Patty Gasso (Oklahoma Head Coach) in an NFCA class 15 years ago. 200 high-school, D1, D2 and D3 college coaches took 2.5 hours to wrap their heads around it. It's tricky, but there are some cool ways to use it.


has a special friend in GHoff
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
The DP/Flex rule is great for competitive youth teams. Makes it easy to get more kids playing time while keeping your options open in case of injury.

Allowing a sub to reenter once helps a lot too.

Oh and the courtesy runner. Two more kids that aren’t starting can contribute.