Spring Baseball - Rules & Regulations

Rules and Regulations

The WIAA Board of Control approved the Baseball Coaches recommended pitch count restrictions that were advanced by the WIAA Sport Medical Advisory Committee.  The restrictions will go into effect for the 2017 spring and summer seasons.

The Pitch Count grid is a tool for coaches to use and the pitch count recorder is only a recommendation.

Pitch Count Restrictions | Pitch Count Grid | Pitch Count FAQ

Answer to a common question as the MLB rules have allowed a return to two piece catcher's protection head gear:

Q:  I have a question for you concerning catchers head protection in baseball. It is our understanding that the older style head protection consisting of the scull cap – (no earflaps)  and the wire faceguard  is illegal at the HS level. The newer hockey style head protection is legal and approved at the HS level for baseball catchers. Is this correct? Can you send me the ruling on this? We have a number of coaches and players wanting to order the style we feel is illegal.

A:  You are correct.  Those are illegal and have been for quite some time.  They must have full ear protection.  
Rule 1 Players, Field and Equipment
ART. 3 . . . The catcher shall wear, in addition to a head protector, a mask with a throat protector, body protector, protective cup (male only), and baseball protective shin guards.
ART. 4 . . . The catcher's helmet and mask combination shall meet the NOCSAE standard. Any helmet or helmet and mask combination shall have full ear protection (dual ear flaps). A throat protector, which is either a part of or attached to the catcher's mask, is mandatory. A throat protector shall adequately cover the throat. The commercially manufactured catcher's head, face and throat protection may be a one-piece or multi-piece design. While in a crouch position, any non-adult warming up a pitcher at any location shall wear a head protector, a mask with a throat protector and a protective cup (male only).
PENALTY: Failure by a player to wear proper equipment after being so ordered by the umpire, shall result in ejection. 

Effective immediately (posted 8/14/12) and until further notice, this bat (Reebok Vector TLS 32" length) should be considered a non-compliant bat and subject to NFHS Baseball Rules 4-1-3b and 7-4-1a. More information, click here

Effective immediately (posted 3/26/12) and until further notice, this bat (Reebok Vector TLS 33" length) should be considered a non-compliant bat and subject to NFHS Baseball Rules 4-1-3b and 7-4-1a. More information, click here. | Bat Pix
Effective immediately (posted 2/21/12) and until further notice, this bat (Marucci CAT5 33" length) should be considered a non-compliant bat and subject to NFHS Baseball Rules 4-1-3b and 7-4-1a.  More Information, click here. | Bat Pix

NFHS Approved Bat Listing - To determine if your bat is legal, it must be on this list.

Rules Changes Approved for High School Baseball, Softball

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 6, 2015) – Rules changes for the 2016 baseball and softball seasons were made at rules committee meetings last month in Indianapolis. Those changes were subsequently approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Board of Directors.


Beginning with the 2016 season, umpires will be required to issue a warning to coaches before restriction to the bench/dugout or ejecting them as part of a new penalty progression to promote preventive officiating.  

The revision to Rule 3-3-1 Penalty was one of two changes recommended by the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee at its June 7-9 meeting.

Previously, issuing a warning to an offending coach was optional for umpires, who will now restrict to the bench/dugout or eject coaches who commit a violation after previously being warned for a minor offense. However, coaches can still be ejected on a first offense if it is deemed to be major.

Also part of the modification to Rule 3-3-1 Penalty, coaches who receive a written warning (Rule 10-2-3) will be restricted to the bench and/or dugout for the remainder of the game.

 “The new rule change has initiated a penalty progression, starting with a written warning, restriction to the bench/dugout and subsequent ejection from the contest,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee.

The changes to Rule 3-3-1 Penalty will help to de-escalate contentious situations and allow coaches to dictate their status in the game by their behavior, Hopkins said.

“A successful game official practices preventive officiating, and this new penalty progression will allow the official to issue penalties that give the coach the opportunity to remain in the game and teach his players.”

The other change approved by the Baseball Rules Committee is an addition to Rule 3-3-1. Article “q” will state that a coach, player, substitute, attendant or other bench personnel shall not “have any physical contact, spitting, kicking of dirt or any other physical action directed toward an umpire.” The addition of article “q” serves to clarify other behaviors that would result in an ejection from the game, Hopkins said.

“Bad behavior that is being imitated from other levels has no place in education-based athletics and will not be tolerated,” Hopkins said. “If we are to continue to use sport to teach life lessons, then we have to ensure that appropriate behavior and conduct are modeled from those adults in the role of coach/teacher.”

In addition to the two rules changes, the Baseball Rules Committee approved three Points of Emphasis for the 2016 season. Points of emphasis are developed by NFHS rules committees and should receive special focus and attention by officials, coaches, players, fans and other leaders within the high school setting.

Points of Emphasis developed by the Baseball Rules Committee for the 2016 season are as follows:


Baseball Rules Interpretations - 2016

By NFHS on February 05, 2016 baseball

Publisher’s Note: The National Federation of State High School Associations is the only source of official high school interpretations. They do not set aside nor modify any rule. They are made and published by the NFHS in response to situations presented.
Robert B. Gardner, Publisher, NFHS Publications © 2016

SITUATION 1: A head coach uses vulgar and profane language when addressing the base umpire. The base umpire ejects the head coach without first issuing a warning. RULING: When an unsportsmanlike act using profane language directed at an umpire is judged to be a major violation, the penalty is an immediate ejection. No warning is necessary. (3-3-1f2 Penalty)

SITUATION 2: A written warning accompanied by a bench restriction must occur prior to an ejection. RULING: If an unsportsmanlike act is judged to be a major violation, an ejection may be made without a prior warning being given. Additionally, there are specific acts in Rule 3-3-1l-q, where the penalty is an immediate ejection. (3-3-1f-k Penalty, 3-3-1l-q Penalty)

SITUATION 3: A head coach is upset about a close call at home plate. During an animated discussion, he bumps the plate umpire. RULING: The head coach is ejected. Physical contact with an umpire, even if unintended or accidental, shall result in an ejection of the offender. (3-3-1q Penalty)

SITUATION 4: The first base assistant coach is upset over an “out” call on a steal at second base. The assistant coach goes to the area around second base and, while arguing the call, kicks dirt on the base umpire. RULING: The assistant coach is ejected; no warning is needed prior to the ejection. The head coach is restricted to the bench for the remainder of the game. (3-3-1q Penalty, 3-3-1f6 Penalty)

SITUATION 5: During the course of the game, the plate umpire has utilized numerous non-verbal, preventative warnings to the head coach. In the sixth inning, the coach continues to complain about various calls and is ejected by the plate umpire. RULING: Unless the last event was a major unsportsmanlike act, the head coach must first receive a written warning and be restricted to the bench before an ejection. (3-3-1f Penalty, 10-2-3j)

SITUATION 6: Having previously received a written warning and a restriction to the dugout for a minor unsportsmanlike outburst, the coach again loudly complains about the plate umpire’s strike zone and performance. RULING: The coach is ejected from the game. Having been previously warned and restricted to the bench, any subsequent minor or a major violation results in ejection. (3-3-1f Penalty)

SITUATION 7: What is a head coach who is restricted to the bench allowed to do? RULING: Even though the head coach is restricted to the bench and may not occupy a coaching box, he is still the head coach. He still represents the team in communications with umpires and may address and coach base runners, the batter, defensive players and other coaches. He may hold team conferences at the dugout or bench area. He may leave the bench/dugout area to attend to a player who becomes ill or injured and may request to talk to an umpire concerning a rule or rule enforcement. However, he shall be ejected for any further misconduct. (3-2-1, 3-3-1f Penalty)

SITUATION 8: What may a coach who is ejected do? RULING: A coach who is ejected shall immediately leave the vicinity of the playing area and is prohibited from further contact – direct or indirect – with the team during the remainder of the game. His presence away from the field shall be such that he cannot be seen or heard from the playing field. He may return when requested to attend to an ill or injured player. (3-3-2)

SITUATION 9: A pitcher comes to the mound wearing a “camouflaged” compression sleeve that does not extend below the elbow. RULING: A camouflaged compression sleeve worn by the pitcher is legal. (1-4-2)

SITUATION 10: A pitcher is wearing a compression sleeve on his pitching arm that extends to his wrist. The compression sleeve is a solid black color. RULING: This compression sleeve is legal. Compression sleeves worn by the pitcher that extend below the elbow shall be solid black or solid dark color. (1-4-2)

SITUATION 11: The pitcher has a white compression sleeve that extends only to his elbow on his (a) pitching arm, (b) non-pitching arm or (c) both arms. RULING: This is legal in (a), (b) and (c). Compression sleeves worn by a pitcher that extend only to the elbow may be white, gray, solid black or a dark color. Compression sleeves may be worn on one arm (pitching or non-pitching) or both arms. (1-4-2)

SITUATION 12: The pitcher is wearing a long, dark black compression sleeve to his wrist on one arm and a white compression sleeve that extends only to the elbow on the other arm. RULING: This is legal provided the plate umpire does not judge this to be distracting to a batter. (1-4-2; 6-2-1f)

SITUATION 13: The pitcher has a compression sleeve that extends to his wrist. The portion of the sleeve that is below the elbow is a dark solid color, while the portion of the sleeve that extends to the elbow is white. RULING: This is illegal. A compression sleeve that extends below the pitcher’s elbow must be solid black or a solid dark color. (1-4-2)

SITUATION 14: The home team is wearing a vest-type uniform with a white shirt worn underneath. The sleeves of the shirt under the vest extend only to the elbow. RULING: This is legal. A pitcher’s shirt worn under the vest is not an undershirt. It may be white, provided it does not extend below the elbow. (1-4-2)

SITUATION 15: The visiting team is wearing a vest-type uniform with a white shirt worn underneath. The sleeves extend to the players’ wrists. The plate umpire informs the coach that this is not legal for the pitcher. The pitcher changes to a black shirt under the vest with sleeves that extend to his wrists. The opposing coach argues that this is not legal as uniforms must be of the same color and style. RULING: It is legal, in this instance, for the pitcher to wear a shirt under his vest of a different color than the rest of the team. Any sleeve worn by the pitcher that extends below his elbow must be a solid black or a solid dark color. (1-4-1, 1-4-2)

SITUATION 16: The catcher helps warm up a pitcher in (a) the bullpen or (b) on the field. He takes a crouch position and is wearing a skull cap and a catcher’s mask that is not attached. RULING: This is not compliant equipment for the catcher. The catcher’s helmet and mask combination shall meet the NOCSAE standard and shall have full ear (dual ear flaps) protection. (1-5-4)

SITUATION 17: A left-handed pitcher attempts to pick-off the runner at first base. Simultaneously with his throw, the pitcher picks up his pivot foot and places it behind the pitcher’s plate. The throw bounces off the first baseman’s glove and goes into dead-ball territory. The base umpire awards the runner third base, ruling that the pitcher was an infielder and the award is two bases. RULING: The award should be second base; only one base. The status of the pitcher at the time he made the attempted pick-off throw was still that of a pitcher, not an infielder. After the pitcher places his pivot foot on the ground clearly behind the pitcher’s plate, his status then changes to that of an infielder. Moving his pivot foot at the same time he attempts the pick-off does not change his status as a pitcher. (6-1-3, 8-3-3d)

SITUATION 18: With a runner on first and no outs, the batter hits the pitch in the left-center gap and R1 attempts to reach third base. The center fielder overthrows third base and the pitcher, backing up the play, catches the throw, and then steps into the dugout. RULING: This is a two-base award to both runners, awarded from the time the pitcher stepped into the dugout. The throw from the outfielder was complete when the pitcher caught it, and the subsequent action is a new one. If both runners are between second and third, they both will be awarded home. If they were both between first and second, R1 is awarded third and the batter is awarded second base. (5-1-1i, 8-3-3c2, 8-3-5)

SITUATION 19: R1 is attempting to score from third base and is obstructed by the catcher who tags him on the play. After the play is over, the home plate umpire declares “Time” and awards the runner home. R1 does not touch home plate. The next batter enters the batter’s box and the plate umpire announces “Play.” The pitcher next requests “Time” and appeals the runner not touching home plate. RULING: This is a legal appeal. The runner will be declared out and the run will no longer count. All bases must be touched, even on an award. A dead-ball appeal may be made before the next legal or illegal pitch. (8-2-1, 8-2-5 Penalty)

SITUATION 20: The batter singles to right field and (a) the ball rolls to a stop and the right fielder, attempting to pick up the ball, kicks it into dead-ball territory; or (b) the bounding ball strikes the right fielder’s leg and deflects into dead-ball territory. RULING: In (a), the right fielder applied the impetus that caused the ball to go into dead-ball territory, the same as if he had thrown it there. The award to any runner is two bases from the base occupied at the time of the kick. In (b), the force on the batted ball caused the ball to go into dead-ball territory, so the award to any runner is two bases from the base occupied at the time of the pitch. (8-3-3c, 8-3-5)


Printable Version - Please print and place in your rules book.

Pace of Game Play

The NFHS baseball committee identified these areas in need of improvements that detract from what otherwise is an exciting and enjoyable game:

  • Handling offensive and defensive charged conferences in a timely manner.  
  • Speeding up the time between innings (1 minute) and during pitching changes.
  • Maintaining the time between pitches (20 seconds).
  • Umpires diligently counting the number of warm-up pitches.
  • The batter’s box rule (the batter must generally keep one foot in the box during an at-bat).  Unless it meets one of the eight exceptions:
    • The batter swings at the pitch.
    • The batter is forced out of the box by the pitch.
    • The batter attempts a “drag bunt.”
    • The pitcher or catcher feints or attempts a play at any base.
    • The pitcher leaves the dirt area of the pitching mound or takes a position more than five feet from the pitcher’s plate after receiving the ball.
    • A member of either team requests and is granted “Time.”
    • The catcher leaves the catcher’s box to adjust his equipment or give defensive signals.
    • The catcher does not catch the pitched ball.

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