Summer Baseball - Rules & Regulations

Pitcher Instruction Week

Effective in the spring of 2018, spring baseball coaches will have up to five days of pitching instruction during the week prior to the first date for baseball practice (Sun to Sat). Only one session per day per athlete is permitted with the maximum length of two hours per individual.

Regulations for Baseball Pitcher Instruction

Rules and Regulations

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2018-19 HS Baseball Rules Changes Focus on Pitching Mechanics

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 5, 2018) — The elimination of the requirement for the entire pivot foot to be in contact with the pitcher’s plate is among the changes approved for the 2018‐ 19 high school baseball season.

            This revision in Rule 6‐1‐3 was one of three changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee at its June 3‐5 meeting in Indianapolis. All changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

            “We are very fortunate that the state of high school baseball is in an excellent position, which is indicative of the few rules changes that were passed,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and staff liaison for baseball. “We appreciate the hard work of dedicated coaches who, in addition to minimizing risk associated with the sport, teach the game in a way that makes our young people enjoy playing for their high school. We must

also acknowledge the highly professional and responsible game umpires. Without their thorough knowledge and implementation of NFHS rules, we would not be able to enjoy the small injury rate and increase in player participation.”

            The rationale behind the change to Rule 6‐1‐3 is a result of the difficulty for pitchers to consistently make contact with the pitcher’s plate when pivoting. Before starting the delivery, the pitcher shall stand with his entire non‐pivot foot in front of a line extending through the front edge of the pitcher’s plate and with the pivot foot in contact with or directly in front of and parallel to the pitcher’s plate.

            “The committee concluded that many pitching mounds are such that it is problematic for a pitcher to have his entire pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate,” Hopkins said. “Therefore, no advantage is gained by having some of the pivot foot not in direct contact with the pitcher’s plate.”

            The committee also approved two new umpire signals. The two new signals, indicating calls for “Correct Rotation” and “Information Available,” were approved to further improve communication between partners.

            “It is always wise to be able to communicate clearly with your partner(s) during a game,” Hopkins said. “With so many moving parts (defensive players, base runners, umpires), it is imperative that umpires communicate easily and inconspicuously from players and fans. These mechanics say a lot without brining attention to the signaling umpire.” 

            The “Correct Rotation” signal comes when in a three‐ or four‐man mechanic, the umpires indicate to their partner(s) where they are rotating to a specific base for coverage of an anticipated play. The umpire(s) points with both hands in the direction of the base that they are moving toward.

            To assist in providing pertinent information between partners, the “Information Available” signal occurs when the game umpire is indicating that he/she has some information that is relevant to their partner by tapping two times over the left chest (heart).

            Additionally, the NFHS Rules Review Committee extended the implementation date to January 1, 2020, for baseballs to meet the NOCSAE standard. 

            According to the 2016‐17 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, there are 491,790 boys participating in baseball at 15,979 schools across the country, and 1,145 girls playing the sport in 269 schools.

            A complete listing of the baseball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page, and select “Baseball.”

            This press release was written by Cody Porter, a graphic arts/communications assistant in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department.

2018 NFHS Baseball Major Rules Changes

1-3-1                                 The ball shall be a sphere formed by yarn wound around a small core of cork, rubber or similar material and covered with two strips of white horsehide or two strips of white cowhide tightly stitched together. It shall be 5 to 5 ¼ ounces in weight and have a circumference of 9 to 9 ¼ inches. The Coefficient of Restitution (COR) shall not exceed .555. The ball shall meet the NOCSAE standard at the time of manufacture and the mark is required on all balls. (Effective January 1, 2019) A minimum of three umpire-approved baseballs shall be provided to start the game. Unless otherwise mutually agreed upon, the home team has this responsibility. No less than two baseballs shall be used to complete the game.

The NFHS Authenticating Mark is required on all balls that will be used in high school competition. A current list of NFHS authenticated products can be found on the website:

                                             Rationale:    To maintain a consistent and uniformed standard for high school baseball competition. To ensure that every baseball manufactured meets the same level of quality and playability. This proposal is recommended and endorsed by the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) to minimize risk.

1-3-2a2                            Non-wood bats shall not have exposed rivets, pins, rough or sharp edges or any form of exterior fastener or attachment(s) that would present a potential hazard.

                                             Rationale: Clarification to better delineate what cannot be attached on a bat.


1-5-3                                 The catcher shall wear, in addition to a head protector, a mask with a throat protector, body/chest protector that meets the NOCSAE standard at the time of manufacture (Effective January 1, 2020), protective cup (male only), and baseball protective shin guards.

Rationale: A NOCSAE standard has been developed to protect the heart and the cardiac silhouette from commotio cordis. The NOCSAE standard could be included in a product that is either a separate device/apparel or a device constructed into a traditional chest protector. This proposal is recommended and endorsed by the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) to minimize risk.

8-2-7                                 A batter-runner who reaches first base safely and then over-runs or over-slides may immediately return without liability of being put out provided he does not attempt or feint an advance to second.  A player who is awarded first base on a base on balls does not have this right.

Rationale: This is a simple change that is fair for all batters and is more umpire-friendly.

2018 Major Editorial Changes

NFHS Casebook          It has been recommended to amend the entire NFHS Casebook to reflect the nomenclature of how runners are identified in case situations. R1, R2, R3 will now represent the base that they (the runners) are occupying. In addition, the Batter-Runner will now be known as “BR” and the Batter will be identified as “B”.

Rationale:   Moving to this new identification of base runners will assist in promoting and educating officials through various NFHS print and electronic mediums.


2018 Points of Emphasis

1.     Sportsmanship (National Anthem Stand-Offs, Bench Jockeying, Celebrations, Negative comments between opponents)

2.     Jewelry Rule Enforcement

3.     Proper Administration of NFHS Rules

4.     Proper Pitching Positions


About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 16 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.7 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at 

2019 Points of Emphasis

1.     Sportsmanship 

2.     Compliance of Players' Equipment

3.     Baserunners' Responsibilities

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. 


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

Baseball Rules Interpretations - 2018

By NFHS on January 31, 2018 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 © 2018

SITUATION 1: With a runner on second base and one out, the batter attempts to check his swing on a 3-2 count. As the pitch skips by the catcher, the batter takes off for first base. The plate umpire eventually checks with the base umpire as to whether the batter checked his swing (in which case it would be ball four) or if the batter did swing at the pitch (in which case it would be strike three). As the batter runs through first base, the base umpire answers the plate umpire by announcing that the batter did not swing, that he successfully checked his swing. The catcher throws the ball to the first baseman, who tags the batter as he directly returns to first base. RULING: The batter is not out. A batter-runner who reaches first base safely and then overruns or overslides may immediately return without liability of being put out provided he does not attempt or feint an advance to second. This applies to base hits as well as a base on balls. (8-2-7)

SITUATION 2: The home team gives the home plate umpire and the opposing team its lineup card at the plate conference. No one notices that only eight players are listed to bat in the lineup. The pitcher is the defensive position that was not listed. In the bottom of the second inning, the ninth batting position comes to bat and the starting pitcher gets in the batter’s box. At that time, the visiting team calls “Time,” and shows the plate umpire that the ninth player for the home team is not listed. The visiting team’s head coach argues that the game should be forfeited or the opposing coach should be ejected or the team must bat for the
rest of the game with only eight players and each time the ninth position comes to bat an out must be called. RULING: The omission should have been caught by the umpire and the coaches at the pre-game conference before the game. However, knowing that it is the pitcher who was left off the lineup, the plate umpire should allow the lineup card to be corrected by adding the pitching position and putting the starting pitcher in the spot. The game continues with no penalty to the home team. (1-1-2, 4-1-3)

SITUATION 3: Adams is the catcher for the home team and is to lead off in the bottom of the third inning. Smith pinch-hits for Adams and hits a lead-off single. The home team’s head coach legally re-enters Adams into the game and then requests to have a courtesy runner run for Adams. The opposing coach argues that this is not legal. RULING: This is legal. Smith was not the catcher of record the last half-inning the home team was on defense and, as a result, a courtesy runner cannot run for him. But the coach may choose to re-enter Adams, the catcher of record, and have a courtesy runner run for him. (Case Book CR 17)

SITUATION 4: Several members of Team A are wearing plastic wristbands in support of a cause for one of their team members. They were told that these bracelets are not considered jewelry. RULING: Plastic bracelets are jewelry and shall not be worn. (1-5-12, 3-3-1d)

SITUATION 5: With one out and a runner on third base, the defense is warming up a pitcher in its bullpen, which is located inside the fence in live-ball territory along the left-field fence. A ball from the bullpen gets past the bullpen catcher and goes to the fence to the left of the catcher. Meanwhile, the pitcher throws a wild pitch that gets past the catcher and goes to the fence to the right of the catcher. The catcher retreats to the fence, picks up the bullpen ball and throws it to the pitcher covering the plate for an apparent out on the runner advancing home. RULING: The runner is safe. Only the game ball can be used to record an out. (1-3-1)

SITUATION 6: The home team’s pitcher, when he comes to the mound to pitch, brings his personal rosin bag with him. At the end of the half-inning, the pitcher picks up his rosin bag and takes it to the dugout with him. RULING: This is not legal. The same rosin bag must be made available to both teams. The home team pitcher may use his rosin bag only if he leaves it on the mound for the opposing pitcher to use. [3-3-1f(4)]

SITUATION 7: A team has renovated its field with artificial turf throughout the playing area. At the home plate area, a “normal” plate was not put in. A part of the turf was painted the legal size and placement of a home plate. Is this legal? RULING: Yes, this is legal for a home plate. (1-2-10)

SITUATION 8: R3 and R2 are on base with one out. B1 hits a single to the outfield. R3 scores and R2 is thrown out at home for the second out. B1 misses first base and ends up on second base. The defense appeals that the batter-runner missed first base and the appeal is upheld for the third out. Does R3’s run count? RULING: No, it does not count. A run does not count if the runner advances to home plate during action in
which the third out is made by the batter-runner before he touches first base. (9-1-1a)

SITUATION 9: The visiting team arrives for the game with all fielders wearing camo sleeves. The pitcher had black compression sleeves. The home team’s coach complains that this is not legal as all players must be dressed the same. RULING: Camo sleeves worn by a pitcher are not allowed. Other players on the team may wear camo compression sleeves provided they are approximately the same length and are not ragged, frayed or slit. (1-4-2)

SITUATION 10: A pitcher has a black compression sleeve that comes to his elbow on his non-pitching arm and a dark-colored compression sleeve that comes to his wrist on his pitching arm. RULING: This is legal. (1-4-2)

SITUATION 11: With R2 on second base, a grounded batted ball deflects off F1’s ankle. The ball deflects toward F5 as he moves in to field the ball and he is run over by R2. Both R2 and the batter-runner are safe. Is this interference or obstruction? RULING: This is interference and R2 will be declared out. F5 must be given the opportunity to field this batted ball on his initial attempt. The batter-runner will be awarded first base unless it is judged the interference prevented the defense from making a double play. (8-4-2g)

SITUATION 12: The pitcher’s spot in the lineup is due to bat. The coach substitutes another player for the pitcher and, after the player gets on base, requests that a courtesy runner run for him. RULING: This is not legal. The player is a pinch-hitter, not the pitcher of record the last half-inning on defense. The team may not use a courtesy runner for him. (Suggested Speed-Up Rules)

SITUATION 13: With the bases loaded, the batter hits a ground ball to the second baseman, who attempts to tag out R1 who is advancing to second base from first. A short run-down ensues in which R1 is eventually tagged after the runner from third base touches home plate. The offensive team’s coach argues that the run should count as it scored before the tag-out which was not played as a force out. RULING: The run does not score. The tag-out is still a force out and a run cannot score when the third out is made by another runner being forced out. (9-1-1b)

SITUATION 14: A runner is caught in a rundown between home and third base. The third baseman is chasing the runner back to third and has clear possession of the ball when he reaches out and tags the runner. After the tag, the fielder stumbles and within a few steps falls to the ground causing the ball to come out of the glove. RULING: The runner is safe. The fielder must maintain control of the ball from the tag through any subsequent activity. Falling down and dropping the ball results in a no tag on the runner. [2-24-4, 8-4-2h(2)]

SITUATION 15: The batter’s hit deflects off home plate and the catcher stands up and catches the ball in midair. The plate umpire points fair and expects the catcher to throw to first base, but instead, the catcher throws the ball back to the pitcher who immediately assumes his pitching position on the pitching plate. No one on either team realizes the ball was declared to be fair, so neither the batter nor the defense takes any resulting action. What should the plate umpire do? RULING: The umpire should continue to signal a fair ball. Regardless of how much time has elapsed or how the two teams have reacted, the umpire must continue
with the call as he sees it. (10-2-1)

SITUATION 16: While taking his warm-up pitches, the plate umpire notices the pitcher is wearing a medical-alert bracelet on his pitching hand. Is the pitcher allowed to continue to wear the medical-alert bracelet? RULING: If a medical-alert bracelet is to be worn by the pitcher, it shall be worn on the non-pitching hand. (1-5-12)

SITUATION 17: With the bases loaded and one out, the batter hits a high pop fly that is properly declared to be an infield fly. The ball glances off the first baseman’s glove over fair territory and bounces into the first-base dugout. RULING: The ball is dead and the batter is declared out. The runners from third base and second base are awarded home, and the runner from first base is awarded third base. (2-5-1f, 2-19-1, 5-1-1f, 8-3-3c, 8-4-1j)

SITUATION 18: With the game tied in the bottom of the seventh inning, the home team has runners on first base and second base. During a time-out, R1 and R2 switch places to put the fastest runner on second base so that the team has a better chance to score from second base. The ball is made live and the defensive coach notices the changes and tells the plate umpire. RULING: The umpire shall call both runners out (one for passing a runner and another out for running the bases in reverse order) and eject them. A warning is given to the coach unless the umpire knows without a doubt the coach was involved, in which case the coach would be ejected. If the switch was detected before the ball was made live, the infraction would be corrected with only a warning given to the team. [3-3-1f(4); 8-4-2m, n]

SITUATION 19: With a runner on first base, the batter hits a base hit to the right-field fence. The runner from first goes all the way to third base and, as he steps on the base, it dislodges and slides into foul territory. The runner takes several steps toward home, slips and heads back to third where he touches the ground where the base would have been as the third baseman applies a tag on him. RULING: The part of the ground where the base was located shall serve as the base. It will be umpire’s judgment as to whether the runner reached the place where the base was located before being tagged. (8-4-2h1)

SITUATION 20: With one out and runners on second base and third base, the batter hits a deep ball into right center field. The right fielder makes a spectacular catch and an even more spectacular throw to get the runner from third base out at home plate for the third out. The defensive team in the first-base dugout runs out of the dugout to celebrate the catch and throw to home. One of its team members bumps the batter as he turns to head to his dugout on the third-base side. As the batter walks past the pitcher, words are exchanged and they begin to fight. RULING: With the ball being dead, there is no penalty for the defensive team being outside the dugout. When the one defensive player bumps the batter, a team warning (at a minimum) should be given to the team and, depending on the circumstances, the defensive player might be ejected for his action. The batter and the pitcher are ejected for fighting. Any players on either team who moved from their position when the fight began shall also be ejected. (3-3-1f PENALTY, 3-3-1p)

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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