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Rules FAQ

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Frequently Asked Rules Questions - last updated 9/16/15:

Field Setup
Q: Is it permissible to physically mark the horizontal boundaries of the strike zone during a regulation game?

Pitching & Kicking
Q: Is a pitch that fails to bounce twice before reaching the plate considered a Ball regardless of what the kicker does?
Q: If the kicker stands completely still and is struck in the leg by a pitch, or if they are trying to get out of the way, does that count as a kick?
Q: May a kicker foul off a pitch using a hand?

Fielding
Q: What kinds of Foul Balls can be caught for an Out? May runners tag up on such Outs?
Q: Can a ball be fielded as fair when first touched by a fielder in the “shaded area” depicted in Diagram 2B?
Q: Can a ball be fielded as fair when first touched by a fielder in the kicking box?
Q: If a runner physically hinders a fielder attempting to make a play, what is the appropriate call?
Q: Which Rules apply if a live ball is interfered with in foul territory?
Q: If a loose ball touches the base to which a runner is forced, is the runner out?
Q: Are fielders allowed to render otherwise fair balls foul by stepping into foul ground and reaching in to touch the ball in fair ground?
Q. Is there an "infield fly" rule? Are fielders permitted to intentionally let kicked balls drop in order to attempt a double play?
Q. Are fielders permitted to kick the ball while attempting to make a play?

Base Running
Q: When the ball is returned to the pitcher on the mound, what determines whether a runner off base may attempt to advance or must return to their last occupied base? Is there a “halfway” rule?
Q: Can a kicker who overruns first base be tagged out if they turn to the left?
Q: At what point may a runner “tag up” to advance on a caught ball?
Q: When a runner misses a base, or leaves base on a caught ball before it is first touched, and the play ends without the runner returning to retouch the base, or without the fielding team putting the runner out, should the fielding team "appeal" the play by holding the ball at the missed or vacated base once the play is concluded?
Q: When a runner is called out after a play for missing a base (see Rule 14.02l) or failing to tag up (see Rule 14.02m), and that is the 3rd out of an inning, does the call nullify any runs that scored on the play?
Q: If a runner is being held on base by a fielder other than the pitcher, and the fielder won't throw the ball back to pitcher for fear of the runner taking another base on the throw, how should this stalemate be resolved? May the Ref call Time to end the play? Is it considered "stealing" per Rule 10.03 to run on a throw back to pitcher following a stalemate?
Q: Can you define “Force play situation” (see Rule 10.09)?
Q: Are runners allowed to slide into First base?
Q: When an Extra Base is in use, must all cases where a fielder or runner touches the "wrong" base result in a reversal of the call?
Q: Is interfering with a fielder involved with the play the same as interfering with the ball?
Q: After a runner has been called safe due to a head shot, is the ball automatically dead or may runners still advance?

Overthrows *NEW*
Q: If a kicker/runner safely overruns first base, and the ball is then overthrown, how far may that kicker/runner advance?
Q: If a fielder tries to catch a kicked ball but fails, deflecting the ball into foul territory, is that an “overthrow” that restricts the runners?
*NEW* Q: When is the base limit on an overthrow situation removed, allowing running to commence (per rule 10.07d)?

Fielder Position Infractions (formerly Encroachment)
Q: How do the Fielder Positioning rules differ from the old “Encroachment” rules?
Q: Should these warnings or penalties be applied even when the ball is not kicked?
Q: Can a Catcher or Fielder out of position while a pitch is in progress correct themselves before the pitch reaches the kicker, and therefore avoid the warning or penalty?
Q: Can a Position infraction occur after the pitched ball passes the kicker, or after it is clear the kicker is not going to kick the pitch?
Q: Does the result of the play stand when these infractions are warned or penalized? Can the kicking team decline a penalty?
Q: Do all runners on base advance when a free base penalty is applied?
Q: May a kicker move backward during a pitch in order to draw a Position infraction call?
Q: May fielders line up to begin a play in foul territory?
Q: Are catchers required to line up "single file" behind the kicker?
Q: If the kicker lines up behind the kicking box, is the catcher also required to remain behind the kicker? Or may the catcher line up at the back of the kicking box, in front of the kicker?
Q: If the kicker lines up to the side of the kicking box, must the catcher also do so?
Q: Once the pitch is being delivered, may the catcher move up alongside the kicker as long as he doesn't pass the kicker?
Q: What if the kicker is lining up in an absurd location, or stopping & starting in a deliberately tricky fashion in order to draw the catcher out of position?
*NEW* Q: Is there any situation in which a position infraction will result in awarding first base without a prior warning?

General Rules & Referee issues
Q: If the Head Ref isn’t sure of the correct final ruling for an unusual situation on the field, may the result of a game be determined retroactively once a correct ruling is found after the fact?
Q: When is it appropriate for a Head Referee to call a time out?
Q: What advice can you give to Referees on the correct application of Obstruction calls (Rule 10.02) and Baseline violations (Rule 10.01)?
Q: How do I submit a suggestion for a new rule or a change to an existing rule?
Q: How do I obtain a clarification on the proper interpretation of a rule?

Field Setup
Q: Is it permissible to physically mark the horizontal boundaries of the strike zone during a regulation game?
A: Not with anything raised that could potentially interfere with play, such as cones. Cones should mark the BACK corners of the kicking box, but may not be placed near the plate or in the kicker’s way (1.02). [Back to top]

Pitching & Kicking
Q: Is a pitch that fails to bounce twice before reaching the plate considered a Ball regardless of what the kicker does?
A: No. Just as with a pitch outside the strike zone, it is only a Ball if the kicker does not attempt to kick the ball. [Back to top]

Q: If the kicker stands completely still and is struck in the leg by a pitch, or if they are trying to get out of the way, does that count as a kick?
A: Yes – it is the kicker’s responsibility to evade a pitched ball that they do not wish to kick. However, the Head Ref has some discretion here, and should call a pitch a Ball if the Ref judges it to be a deliberate and unsportsmanlike throw at the kicker. [Back to top]

Q: May a kicker foul off a pitch using a hand?
A: No. A kicker touching a pitched ball by hand (before it is called a Ball or Strike) is considered interference, and results in an OUT for the kicker (14.02e, 15.02c). Once a pitch is past the kicker and recorded as a Ball or Strike, there is no penalty for helping return the ball to the pitcher. [Back to top]

Fielding
Q: What kinds of Foul Balls can be caught for an Out? May runners tag up on such Outs?
A: All of them, except for when the ball touches a foreign object such as a batting cage or fence (13.02h). Other fouls, including kicks on or above the knee (13.02e), balls touched more than once by the kicker in the kicking box (13.02f), and balls first kicked outside the kicking box (13.02g) MAY be caught for Outs, and runners may attempt to tag up and advance on them, provided the caught ball is not in the possession of the pitcher on the mound. [Back to top]

Q: Can a ball be fielded as fair when first touched by a fielder in the “shaded area” depicted in Diagram 2B?
A: Yes. “The area directly forward the kicking box is fair territory” – Rule 1.01g. [Back to top]

Q: Can a ball be fielded as fair when first touched by a fielder in the kicking box?
A: No. The kicking box itself is foul territory in all respects, except that a kicked ball may roll or bounce through it without instantly becoming foul. [Back to top]

Q: If a runner physically hinders a fielder attempting to make a play, what is the appropriate call?
A: If the Referee judges the interference to be deliberate and unsportsmanlike, this should be treated as Interference per Rule 15.02b: the play ends, the runner is out, and other runners must go back unless forced forward. [Back to top]

Q: Which Rules apply if a live ball is interfered with in foul territory?
A: Generally the remedies for fair territory interference (Rule 15.02a) will apply, however, if an overthrow is in effect (Rule 10.07) the interference rules are superseded by the overthrow rules. [Back to top]

Q: If a loose ball touches the base to which a runner is forced, is the runner out?
A: No - for a force-out to be recorded, the ball must be in the control of a fielder who is touching the base (14.02c). [Back to top]

Q: Are fielders allowed to render otherwise fair balls foul by stepping into foul ground and reaching in to touch the ball in fair ground?
A: No. Fair/foul calls should be made on the basis of the ball's position in almost all cases. For borderline decisions, Rule 1.04 simplifies the call by identifying as "an extension of fair territory" any partially-fair fielder and any live base runner outside the kicking box. Think of it this way: A fielder could extend fair territory into foul by touching a borderline ball while straddling the foul line (or jumping from fair ground) - but a fielder can NEVER extend foul ground into fair via the converse. Fair balls can NOT be made foul through footwork. [Back to top]

Q. Is there an "infield fly" rule? Are fielders permitted to intentionally let kicked balls drop in order to attempt a double play?
A: There is no "infield fly" rule in the WAKA rules, nor any countermeasure against fielders who find it to their tactical advantage to let a ball drop rather than catch it.

The infield fly rule as seen in MLB has a fairly intricate set of criteria, both in terms of the situation (e.g., number of outs and base runners), as well as the definition of the "ordinary effort" required to make a catch. When it comes to kickball, an amateur social sport, WAKA has found that "ordinary effort" is not really an applicable concept, and keeping rules as simple as possible for volunteer Referees to call is a benefit to everyone involved. Kickers are therefore advised to try and avoid kicking pop flies in the immediate vicinity of bases to which their runners will be heading. [Back to top]

Q. Are fielders permitted to kick the ball while attempting to make a play?
A: Yes. [Back to top]

Base Running
Q: When the ball is returned to the pitcher on the mound, what determines whether a runner off base may attempt to advance or must return to their last occupied base? Is there a “halfway” rule?
A: There is not a “halfway” rule, nor any rule requiring that a runner be a certain distance from their next base in order to legally proceed. However, there is a requirement that in order to advance, the runner must be in “forward motion” at the time the pitcher receives the ball on the mound (15.01). Therefore, a runner who is running may keep running, but a runner who is stopped must go back. A runner may not pause a step off the base and attempt a late dash once the pitcher’s back is turned. Note that, as always, any subsequent attempted play that brings the ball off the mound or out of the pitcher’s possession WILL allow any runner to resume advancing at their own risk. [Back to top]

Q: Can a kicker who overruns first base be tagged out if they turn to the left?
A: An idle left turn that still brings them directly back to first base does NOT constitute an active attempt to advance per 10.06. However, even the slightest deliberate move towards second base would allow the runner to be tagged out. [Back to top]

Q: At what point may a runner “tag up” to advance on a caught ball?
A: The runner may tag up as of the moment the kicked ball is first touched by any fielder (10.05). [Back to top]

Q: When a runner misses a base, or leaves base on a caught ball before it is first touched, and the play ends without the runner returning to retouch the base, or without the fielding team putting the runner out, should the fielding team "appeal" the play by holding the ball at the missed or vacated base once the play is concluded?
A: No. After the play has concluded, any Ref that witnessed a runner miss a base or leave one prematurely may call the runner out at that time, without the formality of appeal (see Rules 10.05, 14.02f, l, and m). Any Out so called is applied as of the end of the play. Note that any runner leaving a base before a pitched ball is kicked is immediately out (see Rules 10.03 and 14.02g). [Back to top]

Q: When a runner is called out after a play for missing a base (see Rule 14.02l) or failing to tag up (see Rule 14.02m), and that is the 3rd out of an inning, does the call nullify any runs that scored on the play?
A: These outs are applied as of the end of the play, therefore:

  • On failed tag-ups: the run is nullified only if it was the scoring runner that failed to tag up.
  • On missed bases: the run is nullified only if it was the scoring runner that missed a base, OR if the runner that missed the base was in a force situation compelling them to reach the missed base. [Example: if a kicker never touches first base, no runners on base may score (see Rule 10.09).] [Back to top]

Q: If a runner is being held on base by a fielder other than the pitcher, and the fielder won't throw the ball back to pitcher for fear of the runner taking another base on the throw, how should this stalemate be resolved? May the Ref call Time to end the play? Is it considered "stealing" per Rule 10.03 to run on a throw back to pitcher following a stalemate?
A: When such a stalemate occurs between a fielder an runner, and no other runners are attempting to (or are able to) advance, then the play is essentially over. At this point, it is good form for a Referee to call a time out (see Rule 3.03a) and move the game along, but even if time is not called, a Referee may send a runner back who attempts to "steal" a base on the throw back to pitcher that ends the stalemate. [Back to top]

Q: Can you define “Force play situation” (see Rule 10.09)?
A: When a kicker puts a ball fairly in play and becomes a runner, this “forces” any runner on the base immediately ahead of the kicker to advance, as it does any runner on the base immediately ahead of a forced runner. Runners so forced are no longer safe on the base they originally occupied, until and unless a runner or kicker behind them is put out. Note that a runner’s requirement to tag up before advancing on a caught ball (10.05) does not constitute a “force” in this sense. When the 3rd out of an inning is made on a runner failing to tag up, that does NOT nullify any runs scored on the play prior to the out being made, unless it was the scoring runner put out in this fashion. [Back to top]

Q: Are runners allowed to slide into First base?
A: Runners are not prohibited from sliding into First, however they are restricted from interfering with a fielder, such as by making contact with the first baseman's leg. Where an Extra Base is in use, a sliding runner MUST keep entirely to the foul-side Extra Base and avoid touching the fair-side First Base. Sliding runners who touch First Base will be out per Rule 1.06c, as will those who touch a fielder making a play at First, provided that fielder is in fair ground and out of the running lane. [Back to top]

Q: When an Extra Base is in use, must all cases where a fielder or runner touches the "wrong" base result in a reversal of the call?
A: No, context matters - the Extra Base is not a "land mine."

  • For fielders, the standard is "hindrance" - is the runner impeded, blocked, or forced to slow down because the fielder is out of position? For instance, if a fielder fleetingly touches both bases while the runner is still 10 feet away, that does not logically hinder the runner, who should still be out regardless of the fielder's foot slip.
  • For runners, their restriction applies when a play is occurring, or could occur, at First base. When it becomes clear a play at first is impossible, the fielder should vacate First base, as the runner would be permitted to use it en route to 2nd.
  • Note also that per Rule 1.06f, there are situations where it is safer to use what would normally be the "wrong" base – when in doubt, the safe choice should not be penalized. [Back to top]

Q: Is interfering with a fielder involved with the play the same as interfering with the ball?
A: Absolutely - per Rule 15.02b, if a kicker or runner deliberately hinders a fielder to prevent a play, then the interfering player should be out, and other runners should be sent back to the last base they were safe at before the interference occurred. [Back to top]

Q: After a runner has been called safe due to a head shot, is the ball automatically dead or may runners still advance?
A: A head shot alone does not create an automatic dead ball nor prevent runners from advancing. However, all interference and overthrow rules remain in effect and may apply to the deflection. For instance, a ball that deflects foul off the head shot would be an overthrow, and limit (though not entitle) the hit runner to one base beyond the one he was safe at due to the head shot. [Back to top]

Overthrows
Q: If a kicker/runner safely overruns first base, and the ball is then overthrown, how far may that kicker/runner advance?
A: Overrunning first base is NOT equivalent to “running toward” second base (see Rule 10.07b), and therefore the kicker/runner would be limited to second base. The kicker/runner is permitted to attempt an advance to third base only if the kicker/runner had started an active attempt to reach second base (see Rule 10.06) before the ball was overthrown. [Back to top]

Q: If a fielder tries to catch a kicked ball but fails, deflecting the ball into foul territory, is that an “overthrow” that restricts the runners?
A: No – Rule 10.07a defines an overthrow as “a ball thrown, kicked, or deflected into foul territory while making a defensive play toward a player or base;” – therefore a misplayed catch of a ball directly off the kicker’s foot does not qualify, since it is not a defensive play towards a player or base. Similarly, an attempted defensive play that sails into center field does not restrict the runners either, since the ball has not entered foul territory. [Back to top]

Q: When is the base limit on an overthrow situation removed, allowing running to commence (per rule 10.07d)?
A: Only when a play is attempted on a runner prior to reaching the base to which they are limited per rule 10.07b. If a runner attempts to advance beyond this restriction, any ensuing play attempt on that runner is nullified, and all runners advancing as a result of that attempt should be sent back to the last base they legally occupied during the play. A play attempt on a runner not yet at their base limit does remove the overthrow restriction for all runners, per 10.07d, but an attempt on a runner past their limit does not remove the restriction for any runners. [Back to top]

Fielder Position Infractions (formerly Encroachment)
Q: How do the Fielder Positioning rules differ from the old “Encroachment” rules?
A: There are still the same three types of infractions, but they are now treated as a violation of the same rule. A single warning will be issued to the team committing any Position infraction, and all subsequent infractions by that team result in a free base to the kicker. [Back to top]

Q: Should these warnings or penalties be applied even when the ball is not kicked?
A: Yes (8.02). [Back to top]

Q: Can a Catcher or Fielder out of position while a pitch is in progress correct themselves before the pitch reaches the kicker, and therefore avoid the warning or penalty?
A: No. Improper position at any point during the pitch is considered a Position infraction (8.02). [Back to top]

Q: Can a Position infraction occur after the pitched ball passes the kicker, or after it is clear the kicker is not going to kick the pitch?
A: No (8.02). [Back to top]

Q: Does the result of the play stand when these infractions are warned or penalized? Can the kicking team decline a penalty?
A: On plays where a WARNING is issued, the result of the ensuing play STANDS, unless the Ref judges there to be unsportsmanlike conduct on the play. Note that a Warning may also be given when no ensuing play occurs. On plays where a FREE BASE PENALTY is applied, the free base is awarded in lieu of a play. Refs should immediately indicate an infraction has occurred and play should stop. Any play that does ensue should be NULLIFIED and a free base awarded instead. A team may NOT decline the penalty in favor of the result of a nullified play. [Back to top]

Q: Do all runners on base advance when a free base penalty is applied?
A: No, runners on base only advance if forced forward by the process of the kicker advancing to first base. [Back to top]

Q: May a kicker move backward during a pitch in order to draw a Position infraction call?
A: No, a Position warning or penalty (see Rule 8.02) should NOT be called if the infraction is caused by the kicker moving backwards (8.02c). [Back to top]

Q: May fielders line up to begin a play in foul territory?
A: No. Rule 1.07 states "Prior to the kick, no participants (or spectators) may be in the sideline area except for the kicker, the catcher, Referees and designated base coaches." The sideline area is defined by Rule 1.03e: "the sidelines are lines 10 feet on the outside of and parallel to the foul lines, the area between the foul lines and the sidelines is the sideline area. Violations of this rule can be considered Position infractions (see Rule 8.02). [Back to top]

Q: Are catchers required to line up "single file" behind the kicker?
A: No - to maintain "Proper Field Position" per Rule 8.02c, the catcher is required to be behind the plane of the kicker's body, but may be off to either side, as long as the catcher remains within or behind the kicking box. [Back to top]

Q: If the kicker lines up behind the kicking box, is the catcher also required to remain behind the kicker? Or may the catcher line up at the back of the kicking box, in front of the kicker?
A: The catcher must begin and remain behind the plane of the kicker, wherever the kicker lines up (8.02c). (Exception: when a shallow batting cage or similar obstruction allows no room for a catcher to be behind a kicker, then the catcher may line up alongside the kicker, as long as the catcher allows the kicker to move forward first.) [Back to top]

Q: If the kicker lines up to the side of the kicking box, must the catcher also do so?
A: No - the catcher must always remain within or directly behind the kicking box (i.e., between the cones that define the back corners of the box), and behind the plane of the kicker (8.02c). [Back to top]

Q: Once the pitch is being delivered, may the catcher move up alongside the kicker as long as he doesn't pass the kicker?
A: No - the catcher must remain behind the plane of the kicker until the ball reaches the kicker (8.02c). [Back to top]

Q: What if the kicker is lining up in an absurd location, or stopping & starting in a deliberately tricky fashion in order to draw the catcher out of position?
A: This is unsportsmanlike, and no Position warnings or penalties should be assessed where the Ref judges the violation to be kicker-induced and outside the legitimate motions of a plate appearance (8.02c). [Back to top]

Q: Is there any situation in which a position infraction will result in awarding first base without a prior warning?
A: Yes, egregious or unsportsmanlike position infractions may result in awarding the kicker first base at the discretion of the referee. (See Rule 17.01.) [Back to top]

General Rules & Referee issues
Q: If the Head Ref isn’t sure of the correct final ruling for an unusual situation on the field, may the result of a game be determined retroactively once a correct ruling is found after the fact?
A: NO. The Head Ref must make a final ruling to the best of their ability and judgment (3.05), and the result on the field will be final. [Back to top]

Q: When is it appropriate for a Head Referee to call a time out? (See Rule 3.03)
A: Appropriate circumstances for a time out include, but are not limited to:

  • Normal conclusion of a play -- i.e., the ball is in possession of the pitcher on the mound, and no runners are in forward motion (see Rule 15.01);
  • The ball is interfered with (See Rule 15.02) or is otherwise rendered unplayable;
  • A base runner and a fielder holding the ball are in a stalemate, with no runners able to advance farther (See above);
  • An injury to any participant. [Back to top]

Q: What advice can you give to Referees on the correct application of Obstruction calls (Rule 10.02) and Baseline violations (Rule 10.01)?
A:

  • Remember that the baseline is not always a straight line between two bases, but is determined by the route the runner takes.
  • A fielder possessing or actively receiving the ball cannot be guilty of Obstruction.
  • Neither type of infraction immediately ends the play, though they can be called after the conclusion of the play.
  • Runners that choose to advance beyond an awarded base while the play is still in progress do so at their own risk.
  • Refs may award an additional base beyond the one the runner is obstructed from reaching, if the Ref feels that deliberate and unsportsmanlike Obstruction alone has prevented an uncontested advance. [Back to top]

Q: How do I submit a suggestion for a new rule or a change to an existing rule?
A: To be considered by WAKA, all rules submissions are required to follow the specific format described below. Visit the Contact Rules Questions page, and compose a message that includes all of the following information:

  1. State the current rule as it is written and the rule number. If it is a proposed new rule, please let us know where in the rules you think this new rule should go.
  2. Draft a suggested rewrite of the rule (or, if it is a new rule, draft the wording of the proposed new rule).
  3. State how the rewrite or new rule will affect any other current rules and which rules it will effect. Draft the new language for the rules that will be affected if your proposed change is implemented.
  4. Provide detailed reasoning behind the rewrite of the rule or the proposed new rule. Let us know why you think this change/addition should be implemented.

Submissions that do not follow this format or fail to include all the required information will NOT be considered by the WAKA Rules Committee. An updated edition of the official Rules is produced annually, so please be patient! [Back to top]

Q: How do I obtain a clarification on the proper interpretation of a rule?
A: In the event of any Rules controversy or confusion, WAKA players and Referees are encouraged to speak to their WAKA Customer Service Representative, and to write in to WAKA on behalf of the league, by visiting the Contact Rules Questions page. (Please remember that all rulings on the field will stand, even if they are later found to be in error.) This Rules FAQ page will be updated to address common issues as WAKA becomes aware of them. Please check back to see the latest changes before writing in! [Back to top]