Official Rules(view all)

8.01 Legal Pitching Delivery

There are two legal pitching positions, the Windup Position and the Set Position, and either position may be used at any time. Pitchers shall take signs from the catcher while standing on the pitcher’s plate.

Pitchers may disengage the pitcher’s plate after taking their signs but may not step quickly onto the pitcher’s plate and pitch. This may be judged a quick pitch by the umpire. When the pitcher disengages the pitcher’s plate, he/ she must drop the hands to the sides.

(a) The Windup Position. The pitcher shall stand facing the batter, the pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate, and the other foot free. From this position any natural movement associated with the delivery of the ball to the batter commits the pitcher to pitch without interruption or alteration. The pitcher shall not raise either foot from the ground, except that in the actual delivery of the ball to the batter, said pitcher may take one step backward, and one step forward with the free foot. From this position the pitcher may:

(1) deliver the ball to the batter, or

(2) step and throw to a base in an attempt to pick-off a runner, or

(3) disengage the pitcher’s plate. In disengaging the pitcher’s plate, the pitcher must step off with the pivot foot and not the free foot first. The pitcher may not go into a set or stretch position. If the pitcher does, it is an illegal pitch [a balk in Intermediate (50-70) Division/ Junior/ Senior/ Big League].

NOTE: When a pitcher holds the ball with both hands in front of the body, with the pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate, and the other foot free, that pitcher will be considered in a Windup Position.

(b) The Set Position. Set Position shall be indicated by the pitcher when that pitcher stands facing the batter with the pivot foot in contact with, and the other foot in front of, the pitcher’s plate, holding the ball in both hands in front of the body and coming to a complete stop. From such Set Position the pitcher may deliver the ball to the batter, throw to a base, or step backward off the pitcher’s plate with the pivot foot. Before assuming the Set Position, the pitcher may elect to make any natural preliminary motion such as that known as “the stretch.” But if the pitcher so elects, that pitcher shall come to the Set Position before delivering the ball to that batter.

NOTE: In Little League (Major) and below the pitcher need not come to a complete stop. Intermediate (50-70) Division/ Junior/ Senior/ Big League: the pitcher must come to a complete and discernible stop.

(c) At any time during the pitcher’s preliminary movements and until the natural pitching motion commits that pitcher to the pitch, said pitcher may throw to any base provided the pitcher steps directly toward such base before making the throw. The pitcher shall step “ahead of the throw.” A snap throw followed by the step toward the base is an illegal pitch [a balk in Intermediate (50-70) Division/ Junior/ Senior/ Big League]. (See Penalty for illegal pitch/ balk under Rule 8.05.)

(d) If the pitcher makes an illegal pitch with the bases unoccupied, it shall be called a ball unless the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter, or otherwise. A ball which slips out of the pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called “no pitch” without runners on base, and an illegal pitch [a balk in Intermediate (50-70) Division/ Junior/ Senior/ Big League] with runners on base. (See Penalty for illegal pitch under Rule 8.05.)

(e) If the pitcher removes the pivot foot from contact with the pitcher’s plate by stepping backward with that foot, that pitcher thereby becomes an infielder and in the case of a wild throw from that position, it shall be considered the same as a wild throw by any other infielder.

(f) A pitcher must indicate visually to the Umpire-in-Chief, the batter, and any runners the hand with which he/ she intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his/ her glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher’s plate. The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter, or the pitcher incurs an injury. In the event a pitcher switches pitching hands during an at-bat because he/ she has suffered an injury, the pitcher may not, for the remainder of the game, pitch with the hand from which he/ she has switched. The pitcher shall not be given the opportunity to throw any preparatory pitches after switching pitching hands. Any change of pitching hands must be indicated clearly to the Umpire-in-Chief.

(g) Tee Ball: The pitcher shall keep both feet on the pitcher’s plate until the ball is hit.