Little League Baseball Rules


The Little League Baseball rule book includes two sections, known as Regulations and Playing Rules. The foregoing links provide specific references to these two sections.

Included here is a page of instructions to Rutherford Little League’s base umpires (last updated 1999). These deal with positioning, hints for dealing with tricky situations, recent rule changes, and umpire comportment.

Also available is a direct link to Jim Booth’s rule pages. Booth is an umpire in California District 3, and he also serves as a rule interpreter for the district. His pages demonstrate the finer points of some of the trickier rules.

Finally, here are the Rutherford Little League Constitution, Local Rules (baseball), and Local Rules (softball). These apply strictly to the Rutherford Little League. In addition, here are the pitching limits as established by Little League Baseball (and as modified by Rutherford Little League for its softball program).

Following is a summary of the most important differences between Little League baseball rules and the official rules of baseball. Note that these rules apply to leagues with players aged 12 and younger, the extent of the Rutherford Little League program. (For players born through 2005, league age is the player’s age on April 30 of the playing year. For players born in 2006 or later, league age is the player’s age on December 31 of the playing year.)


THE FIELD is roughly two-thirds the size of a baseball field. Many Little League games are played on softball fields, which use similar dimensions. The bases are 60 feet apart (as opposed to 90 feet in baseball), and the pitcher stands 46 feet from the batter (not 60 feet 6 inches). The outfield fence must be at least 165 feet from the plate, and most fields have fences closer to 200 feet away.

EVERY PLAYER on a Little League roster must play at least two innings in the field and bat at least one time. To ensure each player a chance, Little League allows players who leave the game to re-enter, provided their substitutes have played their two innings and batted. The re-entry and mandatory play rules differ in tournament play.

THE GAME is six innings long (not nine). If it rains, an “official” game is four innings (instead of five), 3½ if the home team is ahead. In most leagues and in tournament play, the game ends if one side holds a ten-run lead in an official game.

THE BATTER is automatically out on strike three in Little League, whether or not the catcher holds on to the third strike. NOTE: For the 2012 Tournament and beyond, the dropped third strike rule is in effect.

DESIGNATED HITTERS do not exist in Little League Baseball. All nine fielders bat in their proper turn, just like in the National League.

BASE RUNNERS must stay on their bases until the pitched ball has been batted or reaches the batter. If a runner leaves a base ahead of time, the runner’s advance, and the advance of every runner on base at the time, is restricted to no more than how far the batter advances as the result of his safe hit.

DOUBLE HEADERS (two games involving the same team or teams) may be scheduled no more than once per calendar week (Sunday through Saturday), except when one game is the completion of a suspended tie game.

PITCHERS are limited in how much they can pitch. A pitcher aged 11 or 12 may not pitch more than 85 pitches in a day; 9- and 10-year-olds are restricted to 75 pitches in a day; 8-year-olds and younger are limited to 50 pitches in a day. Rest periods following a pitching appearance are determined by the number of pitches thrown that day.

THE MANAGER is allowed two visits to a pitcher during an inning, one more than in regular baseball. A third trip in one inning or a fourth trip in the game mandates the pitcher’s removal.


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© Rutherford Little League, Inc. / updated 19-Feb-2015