Softball membership has increased by 2.5 per cent in the last 12 months ©Getty Images

Softball Australia has announced a membership growth of 2.5 per cent over the past 12 months, bucking the trend of a declining number of athletes since 1996.

Growth in participation is up 2.05 per cent as well in comparison to the 2019-2020 period that was unaffected by COVID-19.

Membership of softball in Australia has shrunk since 1996 despite the Aussie Spirit being on the podium for four Olympic Games consecutively from 1996 to 2008.

It was the first distinguishable growth since 2013, where numbers plateaued for a four-year period.

Queensland had the largest participation growth overall with a 13 per cent rise, followed by Western Australia on 11 per cent and Victoria and South Australia on 10 per cent.

Australia has a successful record in softball at the Olympics ©Getty Images
Australia has a successful record in softball at the Olympics ©Getty Images

Five of the eight states or territories, also had a membership growth in the last 24 months compared to pre-COVID-19 data.

"This is a fantastic result and great news for the sport in Australia," said Softball Australia national participation manager Nick Frayne.

"With new participation programmes like Home Run Heroes, better reporting and data insights available through RevSport, and more flexible softball opportunities across the board post-COVID, I'm optimistic that we now have a strong pathway to grow membership and become sustainable at all levels in the future."

Softball Australia is also looking into a nationwide project to see how slowpitch, a more casual form of the sport, can be implemented into clubs to help growth.