Basic Baseball Rules
For young players and parents unfamiliar with the
rules of baseball, here are the basic rules:
Batting, Outs, and Strikes
A youth baseball game usually consists of 6 innings.
In each inning, each team will pitch and field while the other team
bats. When the batting team gets 3 outs, the other team bats.
A batter is out when any of the following occur:
They get 3 strikes
They hit a ball that is caught before the ball hits
The ball is thrown to the first-baseman and the
first-baseman touches the base with their foot while the ball is in
their glove or hand.
Any member of the fielding team tags the batter with
the ball or the glove containing the ball before they get safely to
Any member of the fielding team tags the batter with
the ball or the glove containing the ball when the batter is on
their way to 2nd base, 3rd base, or home.
Any base-runner is out if any of the following occur:
Strikes and Fouls
A batter may get a strike in 3 different ways:
A "foul" ball is one that is hit so it rolls to the
outside of the line from home plate to 1st base or outside the line
from home plate to 3rd base. A ball that is hit within the two lines
previously described is a "fair" ball. A batter never receives a 3rd
and final strike for hitting a foul ball. If foul balls are hit after
2 strikes are obtained, the batter keeps batting. The exception is
that if a foul hit ball (or fair ball) is caught before it strikes the
ground, the batter is out.
The Strike Zone
The strike zone is approximately the width of the home
plate (or a little wider) and has height from about the knees to the
shoulders of the batter. This zone will vary slightly among
leagues and umpires. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, if the
pitched ball is within the strike zone and the batter does not swing,
the umpire will call a strike.
Balls and Walks
If the pitcher pitches to an area outside the "strike
zone" that is called a "ball" by the umpire and the batter does not
swing, this will count as a "ball". If the batter is awarded 4 balls
before striking out or getting out in any other way, they will be
given a "walk". In a walk, the batter is allowed to safely proceed to
Running the Bases
After a batter hits a fair ball, they will attempt to
do one of the following:
Run to 1st base only.
Run to 1st base, then 2nd base (called a double).
Continue past 2nd base and run to 3rd base (called a
Continue past 3rd base to home plate (called a home
In addition, any previous batters that are on one of
the bases may advance to subsequent bases and finally home. A run is
scored for each player of the batting team successfully reaching home
Over-Running the Bases
After a fair ball is hit, the batter proceeds to run
to first base. If the batter is only going to run to first base, they
are allowed to overrun the first base and are "safe" if they touch
base before the first-baseman catches the ball while standing on base.
The batter is still safe even if they are off base, provided they run
straight past the first base and turn to their right. If the
batter, however, tags first base and rounds the corner to 2nd base,
they may be tagged out if they are not successful! Also, players
running from 1st to 2nd or 2nd to 3rd base may always be tagged out if
they overrun the base and the 2nd or 3rd baseman tags them. So in
summary, overrunning a base without danger of being tagged out is only
allowed for a batter running straight past first base.
Tagging Runners Out
Any player of the fielding team may tag any runner out
by touching the player with the ball in hand or the glove containing
the ball provided the runner is off base with exception of the first
base over-run covered in the previous paragraph.
Force-Out vs. Tag-Out Situations
Two runners of the batting team can not occupy a base
at the same time. This means that if there is a runner at 1st
base and the next batter hits a fair ball, this runner on 1st must
advance to at least 2nd base. This is known as a "force out at 2nd"
situation. If this is the case, the second baseman only has to
tag the base before the runner arrives, rather than tag the runner. If
the second baseman has enough time, they may even throw to first base
to get the hitter out as well - if successful, this is known as a
"double play". In a "bases loaded" situation with runners at
each base, a force out is possible at 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, or
home since all of the runners and batters are forced to advance
to the next base. On the other hand, if a runner is
already at 2nd base with 3rd base empty and the ball is hit, the 2nd
base runner trying to reach 3rd may only be tagged out by actually
tagging with the ball (as opposed to simply tagging base). This
last case is a "tag out" situation. So in summary, if a runner
is forced to advance, a force out is possible. If a runner is not
forced to advance, they must be tagged out. A force-out on the batter
is always possible at first base.
Rule Concerning Runs Scored When 3rd Out Is Made
All runs scored before the 3rd out is actually
obtained will count if the third out occurs in a tag-out situation.
So for example, if there are two outs and runners at 2nd and 3rd and
the batter hits a ball that results in the 2nd base runner being
tagged out at 3rd for the 3rd out yet the 3rd base runner made it home
before the actual out was made, the run would count. If
on the other hand, the runner made it home after the 3rd out was
actually made, the run would not count. If the 3rd out occurred on
a force-out situation, the run at home would not count, even if it was
achieved before the 3rd out was made.
Rules Concerning Pop Fly Balls
A "pop fly ball" is a ball hit into the air so a
fielder can catch it before it hits the ground. If a pop fly is
caught before it hits the ground, the batter is automatically out.
In addition, any runners that start to advance to another base
before the ball is caught are out if the ball is thrown back to
the baseman and the baseman tags the base with his/her foot before the
runner returns back to base. So for example, a pop fly is hit.
While the fly ball is in the air, a runner on 2nd base advances to
3rd. The ball is caught and thrown back to the 2nd baseman and he/she
tags base before the runner can get back on base. The runner would be
out. A runner may "tag up" however, and then safely run to the
next base. "Tagging up" means the runner waits until after
the fair-hit pop-fly ball is caught and then runs to the next base.
So, if our 2nd base runner had waits until the ball is caught before
proceeding to 3rd base, the runner would be safe, provided they did
not get tagged out at 3rd base.
In youth baseball leagues for ages 9 and below,
stealing bases in generally not allowed although there are exceptions.
For youth baseball leagues for ages 9-12, stealing bases is allowed.
An existing runner may run to the next base after the pitch is thrown
and arrives at the catcher, even if the ball is not hit. This is known
as a steal. The pitching team may try to tag this runner out. This is
a tag-out situation. Note that a runner may not steal on a ball hit
foul - in this case the stealing runner is allowed to safely return to
the original base. Also note that some leagues may allow stealing
bases before the ball gets to the catcher. Check your local