Rookie Ball Rules


The main focus of the managers, coaches and parents in the Rookie Ball division is to teach the fundamental skills of baseball and provide all the players with an opportunity to learn all positions, skills, good sportsmanship, and the rules of the game in a safe, positive and fun environment.

1.  Field Preparation, Pre-Game, Post-Game, Scheduling, and Touches

  • Pre-game: Home team is responsible for readying field for play.  A pitching machine should be placed 28 feet from home plate and tested at the pitch speed of 28 m.p.h.
  • Each team will also provide three new soft-core safety balls (e.g., a "PT Ball") for the game.
  • Visitors should assist the home team in preparing the field.
  • Post-game: Managers will be held responsible to clean up their respective side of the field following practices and games (including trash). It is the responsibility of the managers to get their equipment and players out of the dugout immediately after the game.
  • Rescheduling: It will be the responsibility of the managers to reschedule all games. Please check with the Rookie Ball Rep for field availability.
  • Weekly Touches: During the regular season, except for rain outs and other rescheduled games, each team will be limited to no more than 2 touches per week.

2.  Coaching, Coach Positions and Dugouts

  • Bellaire Little League is a volunteer organization, including all of its Managers and Coaches. All Bellaire Little League teams are to be managed and coached by league volunteers approved by the Board in accordance with the By-Laws of the league. Before and during the season, the League may conduct clinics for players which may utilize professional coaches, and otherwise may make professional coaches available to teams at certain practices to facilitate player and manager development. No professional coach or other person may be compensated in any manner, directly or indirectly, other than by the League for working with, coaching, or instructing Bellaire Little League teams at team practices or games.
  • The manager is responsible for the conduct of his/her team's players, spectators and coaches.
  • The manager should ensure that any person placed on the field as an assistant coach, first, third or pitching coach is aware of all the rules, all the requirements of proper instruction and displays good sportsmanship at all times.
  • Parents of the players should be made aware of the rules and be instructed that they should conduct themselves properly at all times.
  • Questions concerning rules, calls, etc. should first be addressed to their team manager and then the managers discuss and resolve any issues.
  • First and third base coaches are to help "police" the base paths. They should notify the defensive coach of any impending obstruction of the base paths. Defensive coaches should be aware that the base coaches will be helping to keep infielders out of the base lines and should not be offended by another coach should he/she point out this type of situation. It should be noted that standing in the base path is not a violation of any rule, however, impeding a base runner from advancing to a base is. Therefore, this rule should apply primarily to a first baseman who positions himself in the base path with a base runner at first base, or a fielder who continually fails to clear the base path causing base runners to go around him/her. It should be noted that if a fielder is in the act of fielding a batted ball, the base runner must avoid the fielder.
  • Base Coaches: Adults must coach first and third base and must stay in foul territory in proximity of the base they are coaching. A base coach is not allowed to interfere with the defensive or offensive player. If they do, the runner will be called out. The base coach will be the umpire at their respective bases.
  • The defensive outfield coaches: Two defensive coaches may roam the outfield grass and give instructions to both the infielders and outfielders. These coaches are not allowed on the infield. One of these two coaches will be responsible for making the calls at 2nd base.
  • The offensive pitching coach: The offensive pitching coach shall at all times remain in the pitching area behind the pitching machine, except as may be necessary to allow infielders to field their respective positions. The offensive pitching coach is not permitted to verbally coach or instruct base runners. If a batted ball hits the pitching machine or the pitching coach the batter is awarded 1st base and all other runners advance one (1) base, if forced. The pitching coach shall use the pitching machine located 28 feet from home plate to “pitch” balls at 28 m.p.h.
  • Dugout: Each team should have a dugout coach who keeps track of the batting order and ensures batters are ready to hit when there turn arrives. Absolutely no food or drinks (with the exception of water or sports drinks) are allowed in the dugout during the game.
  • The use of tobacco in any form is prohibited on the playing field, benches and dugouts. Smoking is not permitted on any League facilities. The use of alcoholic beverages or profanity is prohibited anywhere at the baseball complexes.

3. Time Limit for Games

  • The official game start time is the scheduled start time.
  • The game consists of (5) five innings or 75 minutes on Saturdays and 70 minutes during the week - please complete your game within 70 minutes during the week to allow for the next game to start!
  • No new inning will start after 65 minutes of play on Saturday and 60 minutes during the week.
  • Only 1 minute will be given to each team between innings to get ready offensively and defensively.
  • –Catchers are recommended but not required.  Male catchers must wear a cup.
  • Any game that is halted due to weather and has completed one full inning will be continued from that point until the game is complete. There will be no ending of the game in the bottom half of an inning if the home team is ahead since the score is not kept – please finish the inning!

4. Batters – Pitches, Batter Safety, and Batting Order

  • February/March and all of Fall season - A batter shall be given five (5) pitches to put the ball into play, one extra pitch will be allowed if the third pitch is hit foul. If the ball is not put  into play after (5) five pitches (and foul balls) the batter will then hit off a tee.
  • April - Please only do 3 pitches then the Tee.
  • If a batter throws or wildly slings the bat after hitting (or attempting to hit) the ball to the extent his/her coach believes other players are endangered, time-out will be called and the coach will discuss the infraction with the batter. If it happens during the game again, the batter will automatically be called out.
  • The batter/runner will always wear protective helmets with full face masks.
  • There is no bunting allowed.
  • The Infield fly rule does not apply.
  •  There is no on deck circle. Players must remain in the dugout until it is their turn to bat. Players shall not pick up a bat until it is their turn to hit.
  • A continuous batting order will be used. The batting order will consist of all eligible players. Once established, the order cannot be changed except for injury or players arriving late or leaving early.
  • All batters should hit every inning regardless of outs, unless the managers agree otherwise.
  • If a batter is injured during an at-bat and cannot continue the at-bat, the next batter in the lineup comes up and continues the at bat. He does so with inherit ball/strike count. Furthermore, when it is time for that player who was injured to bat again and he is still unable to do so, he is skipped, disregarding any batting out of order rule.

5. Runners –No Stealing Bases, Advancement, Courtesy Runner for Catcher

  • There is no stealing allowed.
  • Players are allowed to slide, but head first sliding is not allowed.
  • Standing in the base path is not a violation of any rule, however, impeding a base runner from advancing to a base is obstruction.
  • If a fielder is in the act of fielding a batted ball, the base runner must avoid the fielder.
  •  Runners may advance one base on an overthrow and at their own risk if the ball remains in play, with a maximum of one overthrow per batted ball in play. If the ball goes into dead ball territory, runners may advance one base without liability to be put out.
  • Once the ball reaches the infield and is in possession of the infielder, including the pitcher or catcher, runners may not advance.
  • Teams that are using catchers shall replace the catcher for the next half inning with a courtesy runner (the player that made the last out).
  • Players can take one base on a basehit - if the ball is hit past the outfielders, the batter can take 2 bases.  Coaches must NOT interfere with a ball in play.  Coaches should never stop a live ball with their foot.

6. Defense – Number of Players & Positioning

  • The catcher (optional): The player shall be positioned at a minimum of three (3) feet behind the batter to avoid injury or interference. The catcher will ALWAYS wear a helmet/face mask with dangling throat protector, long-model chest protector, cup, and shin guards. This rule applies to games and team practices. Catchers may be used defensively and at least attempt to catch the pitched ball. Catchers should be positioned in the normal location behind home plate.  To speed up the game, catchers should not throw the ball back to the pitcher.  The pitcher should have 5-10 balls ready to pitch to speed up the game.
  • The player pitcher: When the ball is “pitched,” the player shall have at least one foot on the pitching circle (the pitching mound) and behind the front legs of the pitching machine until the pitch is released. Pitchers must wear a protective helmet with full facemask.
  • The infielders: Each infield player must be in a "set position" ready to field the ball. They may not be placed on the grass part of the infield. This rule is in effect to give an otherwise less developed batter an equal chance to attain first base.  Keep your infielders back, they cannot be too close to the hitter!
  • The outfielders: A team must field a minimum of 8 fielders and may field up to 10 players. There shall be a maximum of four (4) outfielders and a minimum of two (2) outfielders. In a normal 10 player roster, the positions shall be left fielder, left-centerfielder, right-centerfielder, and right fielder.
  •  NO ROVING OUTFIELDER. Outfielders can back up throws at the bases but cannot be the "main" put out man, i.e. ball is hit to 2nd baseman and left-centerfielder covers second base for a force out.
  • Defensive players should be rotated every inning at least.  Do not keep the same players at key positions like pitcher and first base.

7. Scoring and Records

  • There is no score in rookie ball.

8. Umpiring by Coaches

  • Home plate: A coach from the offensive team shall position himself directly behind the catcher when the batter is taking pitches (umpiring from the mound is not permitted). He is responsible for keeping track of strikes, number of pitches, and any calls at the plate. The home plate coach is responsible for removing the batter's tee if a runner is attempting to score and may also pick up passed balls to help speed up the game.  He/she should also be helping get the balls from the catcher if there is a catcher, and working to speed up the game by running the balls back to the pitcher.  The pitcher should have at least 5 balls ready to pitch.  Do not try to use only a few in the game.
  • The first and third base coaches shall make the safe/out calls at those bases. The defensive fielding coach shall make all calls at second base. The coach/pitcher shall make the call at home plate. We know there will be mistakes and that there will be disagreements with some calls. Let's strive to always present a positive role model for those for whom this League exists. For any game in which an umpire is present, the umpire's decision is final.
  • There will be no arguing with the opposing coaches. If there is a dispute, it should be handled professionally between innings or after the game. Coaches are to serve as role models to players and spectators.

9. Mandatory Play Rules

  • Players who attend practice must play a minimum of half the game in the field.  Everyone should play key positions during the game - like 1st base and pitcher.
  •  Each team will employ a continuous batting order of all players able to play in the game.
  • Rookie Ball is an instructional League. Managers should be fairly rotating their players at all positions per the Rotation rule below.
  • The goal should be to avoid playing a player twice at any one position until every other player has had an opportunity to play that position.
  • Managers should give every player a chance to learn each position.
  • If a player struggles at a skill or position, the manager should help the player improve and not dismiss the player from that position.
  • Managers are to be sensitive to hiding players behind the plate or in the outfield. Avoiding "Hot Spots" in the name of safety is fine; however players must be rotated so that each of them has the opportunity to play all skilled positions.
  •  No player shall be allowed to play the same position for the entire game and every player should play an infield position at least one (1) inning per game.
  •  A player should not be allowed to play an infield position when, in the opinion of the Manager, the player may be at risk of injury solely because of a lack of skills. The Manager must present this option to the player's parents and to the League Rep.
  • A player will be allowed to play a maximum combination of two (2) total innings at pitcher and first base in one game.
  • Keep good records of positions played by each player on your team to ensure minimum playing time requirements are met and that all players have played equally in all skilled positions.
  • For teams with 10 or fewer players, no defensive player should sit out an inning except for disciplinary reasons or injury. For teams with greater than 10 players, no player may sit two (2) defensive innings until all players on the game roster have sat one (1) defensive inning.  No player may sit two (2) consecutive defensive innings.

All other Little League rules apply. Refer to the Little League rulebook for any situation that may arise.

Revised January 2023