Top 10 Misunderstood Rules

These ten rules have been selected as rules about which there are many common misconceptions. These misconceptions then lead to many forms of abuse whether it be heckling from the fans who misunderstand (or don’t agree with) the rule, verbal abuse from coaches and/or players, etc.


The Top 10 Misunderstood Rules in Softball Are:

Left Hand Turn from First
Check Swing
Award of Bases on Overthrow
Batted Ball hitting Home Plate, First Base, Second Base or Third Base
Batter stepping on home plate or mat or directly in front of home plate or mat
Fair ball bouncing out of play or off a defensive player
Infield Fly
Lead-off (Pitcher’s Circle) - Fast Pitch only
Difference between Interference / Obstruction
Double Base

1.Left hand turn from first. 
A runner forfeits his/her exemption from liability to be put out if, after overrunning first base, he/she makes an attempt to run to second base.

The key to this rule is to continue to second base. There must be at least an attempt towards second base. It does not matter which direction the batter-runner turns after reaching first base if they are coming back to first base without attempting to advance to second base.

2.Check swing.

If it is the plate umpire’s judgement that the batter made an attempt to swing at the ball (but not a full swing), the plate umpire shall call the pitched ball a strike. This call is NOT to be appealed to the base umpire - use the guiding principle that the plate umpire does not call it a strike unless he/she saw the attempted swing - therefore no need for an appeal of what the plate umpire saw.

However, if the batter attempted to swing at the ball but the plate umpire did not see the attempt (perhaps blocked out by the catcher) then a ball shall be called. With this call, the plate umpire does have the opportunity to check with his/her base umpire(s) with or without a request from the defensive team.  The plate umpire may make the request on their own or may choose to make the request when requested to do so by the defensive team. The key to the base umpire is that they shall only answer a check swing request made by the plate umpire - they do not respond to a request made directly to them by a defensive player.

Should the base umpire see the attempt that the plate umpire did not see, they shall respond by calling “yes” and the call shall be changed from ball to strike.

3. Award of bases on overthrow.

 The common misconception with this rule is the old rule of “one plus one,” a rule that was changed long ago. The correct ruling is that when a thrown ball goes out of play (beyond the established boundary lines of the playing field)

Keys to remember with this rule:

4. Batted ball hitting home plate, first base, second base or third base.

  Home Plate

 First or Third Base

  Second Base

5. Batter stepping on home plate or mat or directly in front of home plate or mat.

  Stepping on Home Plate or Mat

  Stepping directly in front of Home Plate or Mat

  Points of Emphasis:

6. Fair ball bouncing out of play or off a defensive player.

  When a fair ball bounces out of play, including if it deflects off a defensive player, the umpire shall declare “Dead Ball” as soon as the ball goes out of play.

7. Infield Fly.

  Requirements for an Infield Fly:

 What should the umpire do?

  Once an Infield Fly is declared:

8. Lead-off (Pitcher’s Circle) - Fast Pitch only.

The Pitcher’s Circle is the area within an 8’ radius of the pitcher’s plate - the lines are considered within the circle.

The common misconception is that if the ball is thrown back to the pitcher and he/she has it in his/her position in the pitcher’s circle before the batter-runner reaches first base that the batter-runner must stop at first base.

Even though the ball may be in the pitcher’s possession in the pitcher’s circle, the batter-runner may:

If the runner stops and simply stands there off the base while the pitcher has possession of the ball in the pitcher’s circle and no play is made - “DEAD BALL - RUNNER IS OUT - LEAD-OFF” If the runner stops and then makes a move in more than one direction immediately after the stop while the pitcher has possession of the ball in the pitcher’s circle and no play is made “DEAD BALL - RUNNER IS OUT - LEAD-OFF”

Points of Emphasis:

9. Difference between Interference/Obstruction

  Interference:

  Obstruction:

  These two rules require:

Contact does not always mean interference or obstruction occurred. There is such a thing as incidental contact - 2 players both unsure of where to go and contact is made. Rule 8.10(c) states that the runner is not out when more than one fielder attempts to field a batted ball and the runner comes in contact with the one who, in the umpire’s judgment, was not entitled to field the ball.

TIP - when contact occurs and in the umpire’s judgment that neither interference nor obstruction occurred, make a “SAFE” signal with no verbal call - shows that you saw it and you made your decision that no call was necessary.

10. Double Base.

The Double Base is used at first base with the orange portion in foul territory and the white portion in fair territory. Referring to 4. above - a batted ball striking the white/fair portion is declared a fair ball, a batted ball striking the orange/foul portion is declared a foul ball - a batted ball striking the centre of the double base is declared a fair ball as it therefore hits a portion of the white/fair portion of the base.

The defensive player (typically the first baseman) must use only the white/fair portion of the base at all times. (see Exception below)

The offensive player must use only the orange/foul portion of the base on his/her first attempt at first base when a play is being made on him/her. This includes when the batter-runner runs on a dropped third strike. (see Exception below)

On a ball hit to the outfield with no play being made at first base, the offensive player may touch either portion of the base on his/her first attempt at first base.

Once an offensive player has touched the orange/foul portion of the base on his/her first attempt at first base, he/she must then use the white/fair portion of the base:

  Points of Emphasis:

  Exception (introduced 2013)