SMLL Rules Overview
In the sections below, we’ve tried to summarize Little League rules that stand out as things our coaches should know, for regular season games in T-Ball through 50-70, here at Sierra Mountain Little League. We also highlight our local “ground rules”, where we call out the special circumstances related to our facilities and describe the approved divergences and intepretations of Little League’s official rules.
These describe the general conditions for most scenarios encountered by the coaches at SMLL and are a best effort at summarizing the rules. The official Little League rules, subject to approved modifications as listed in SMLL’s Ground Rules, are the final word. At games, the umpires are the final word.
In addition, Little League offers their own lists of rule highlights:
- for coaches: 10 Commonly Misinterpreted Little League® Rules
- for parents: Common Little League® Rule Misconceptions: What Parents Need to Know
- for everyone: this season’s Rule Changes and Clarifications
SMLL Ground Rules
Please see our latest ground rules. New for 2023, they include the allowance of Game Changer for keeping score and the adoption of continuous batting orders in all divisions.
SMLL Local Field Rules
- Any kid warming up an outfielder must have a helmet on.
- Home dugout is always third base dugout.
- No one is allowed to use tobacco or alcohol while at the Little League fields.
- Vulgar language and unsportsmanlike behavior will not be tolerated – this will lead to an automatic ejection from the game; please refer to the Player and Parents Codes of Conduct.
- Only approved Managers, Coaches, Players, and registered volunteers are allowed in the dugout or on the playing field during games and practices
- The home team is responsible for turning the lights on and off, locking and unlocking the restrooms, cleaning up trash, emptying the trash cans, prepping the field, and dragging the field after the game.
- Children and Players are not allowed to play around the main buildings of the community center; they are especially not allowed to play on the big hills behind the field as this is a safety hazard. Players caught playing around these areas will be suspended from the next game.
- A batted fly ball in fair territory which hits the wires hanging over the Major and Minor A left field will be ruled a ground rule double.
- Makeup games will be scheduled during free blocks of time.
- Major teams will have preference on the Major field. Thereafter, the field/practice schedule will be determined at the coaches meeting. Major teams will have preference over Minor teams for the major field. The order for picking the schedule will be determined by the reverse order of the draft and the practice schedule will be posted in the dugout.
- Home runs must clear the fence and the yellow tubing.
- If a batted ball hits a wire, it cannot be caught for an out.
- A fair batted ball going through the fence will result in a ground rule double.
- A pitched ball trapped in the backstop will be a dead ball; no runner may advance.
Team Size and Substitutions
|Division||Min on Field||Max||Batting Plan|
|Tee Ball||None||10||All players hit in order|
|Minors||7*1||9||All players hit in order|
|AAA||7||9||Continuous batting order|
|Majors||9||9||Continuous batting order|
|50-70+||9||9||Continuous batting order|
* Minors: at managers’ discretion, a team may play with fewer than 7 players
Player sharing is possible between teams in various ways, depending on division:
- In T-Ball and Minors: players may be shared at the team managers’ discretion.
- In AAA and above: players must be borrowed from the player pool. Speak to our Player Agent if you need to request a player.
Game times are complicated to summarize. For regular season games, these are the basic parameters:
|Division||Max Time||Min Innings||Max Innings||Regulation Innings|
|Tee Ball||1:00||3½ or 4*||6||6|
|Minors||1:301||3½ or 4||51||6|
|AAA||1:451||3½ or 4||6||6|
|Majors||None||3½ or 4||6||6|
|50-70 and above||2:00||4½ or 5||None||7|
* Rule 4.10(c)(3): games will end half an inning earlier if the home team still has the lead after the visiting team has completed its first 4 (or 5) half-innings
There are various circumstances, like tied scores, run rules (see below), and curfew, that prompt earlier finishes, longer times, or more innings. Please see section 4.10 of the Little League rulebook for specifics.
When a team has a strong lead over its oppenent, the team behind in runs should concede victory and the game can be terminated before a “full” number of innings is played, as long as all players have met their minimum play requirements.
For regular season games:
|In Divisions||Lead||Home has lead||Visitors have lead|
|Runs||at Inning||at Inning|
|AAA*1||10 or more||3½||4|
|Majors||15 or more||2½||3|
|10 or more||3½||4|
|8 or more||4½||5|
|50-70 and above||15 or more||3½||4|
|10 or more||4½||5|
|8 or more||5½||6|
* AAA: Note that the 15-run rule is ignored according to league ground rules.
See The 8, 10, and 15-Run Rules: What Parents Need to Know
Pitchers in every division have limits on the number of pitches they can throw in a game, how many days of rest they need afterward, and when they can switch between catcher and pitcher.
Baseball Pitching Limits
|Pitch Limit Per Day||50||75||85||95|
All pitchers must have days to rest after pitching in a game:
- Once a pitcher has been removed from the mound, they cannot return as a pitcher in the same game.
- A pitcher may finish their current batter once reaching their limit.
- A catcher who has caught for 3 or fewer innings, then throws 21 or more pitches in the same day (31 for 15- & 16-year-olds), may not play catcher again on that day.
- A catcher who has caught for 4 or more innings in a game may not pitch at all on that day.
These describe the general conditions for most scenarios encountered by the coaches at SMLL. Please see Little League’s Regular Season Pitching Rules) for important details.
Softball Pitching Limits
|Age Range||Minors & Majors||Junior & Senior|
|Pitch Innings Per Day||12||No limit|
|Rest Days After 7 Innings||1||No requirement|
Note that no more than 5 pitchers may be used in a single game.
For more info:
- Little League’s Regular Season Pitching Rules
- Little League’s Pitch Counts, Days Rest, and Why They Matter
- SportsSafety.org’s Looking for Relief… Pitching, Pitch Counts, and What to Look For
Coaches During Games
Only 3 coaches per team are allowed on the field during games, which includes 2 base coaches and 1 adult who must supervise the dugout while the team is at bat.
People can’t just freely exchange roles during a game. A person outside the field must stay outside the field, and a person on the field must fulfill all the roles of a team coach throughout.
Coaches, consider arranging with a team parent to assist with off-field needs during the game. It can be very helpful to have someone to find that player who took too long on a bathroom break, to fetch a drink for the player getting dehydrated, or to grab those batting gloves someone forgot.
Up through Majors, on-deck batters need to stay in the dugout and leave their bat on the rack until it’s time to hit.
Regulations prohibit on-deck batters. This means no player should handle a bat, even while in an enclosure, until it is his/her time at bat. This applies only to Little League (Majors), Minor League, and Tee Ball.
See Appendix B - Safety Code for Little League
According to Little League, in the regular season, “every rostered player present at the start of a game must participate in each game for a minimum of six defensive outs and bat at least once”. There are special rules for games that end early, varying team sizes, and the Minor divisions.
If a player does not meet their play requirements in a given game, they must start the next game, complete the reqs missed from that last game, and then those of the current game, before being removed from play.
Tournaments do not have mandatory play, but they do use continuous batting order, just as SMLL has adopted for regular season play in all divisions.
For further explanation, please see Regular Season Rules and Regulations Spotlight: Player Re-Entry, Special Pinch-Runner, Pitch Count, and Mandatory Play
According to Rule 7.13…
In baseball, the basic rule is this:
When a pitcher is in contact with the pitcher’s plate and in possession of the ball and the catcher is in the catcher’s box ready for delivery of the ball, base runners shall not leave their bases until the ball has been delivered and has reached the batter.
In other words, the ball has to reach the plate from a pitch before a base runner can start to steal.
SMLL has adopted a local rule that there will be no base stealing in T-ball.
In softball, from Majors up, base runners may not leave their bases until the pitched ball has been released by the pitcher. In Minors, they may not leave until the ball reaches the batter.
According to Rule 7.08(a)(5), runners are out for violating those rules. But… if the softball slips from the pitcher’s hand, it’s in play and the runner may attempt to steal.
For more on stealing bases in softball, see Softball Base Running: The Circle Rule