If you've volunteered to coach in a local league, you've likely received a list of rules for the age group you've been assigned to. Leagues often have different rules and different ideas about how strictly coaches must adhere to the rules. The rules may vary quite drastically from the Major League Baseball games your players watch on television, and you'll need to make sure they understand what's considered acceptable play in your league.
The rules of baseball concern outs, balls and strikes, and base running. Here's a quick review of basic rules to go over with your players.
- Players are out under the following circumstances: when they get three strikes (although many leagues allow for more with very young players), when they hit a ball that is caught before it drops to the ground, or when they're forced or tagged out before reaching a base or while off base.
- Batters get a strike by swinging at and missing a pitch, by failing to swing at a ball that is inside the strike zone or by hitting a foul ball on one of the first two strikes.
- A ball is a pitch that does not cross the plate inside the strike zone. When a batter gets four balls, the batter walks to first base.
- Base-running rules vary greatly by league and age group, especially concerning stolen bases. In fact, some little leagues prohibit stolen bases. A common base-running rule used for teams of younger players is that runners may not advance when a fielder fails to catch a ball at the base. This is because fielding skills are often underdeveloped in relation to hitting skills in young players [source: Youth Baseball Basics].
Now that you know the rules of the game, you're ready to plan the first practice. Read on for practical tips on how to teach players the basics and how to run an effective practice.