USSSA Rule #3 – Definitions

The following section has been taken from the USSSA Official Fastpitch Playing Rules and By-Laws Twelve Edition

ALTERED BALL is one which has had its physical structure changed in any way, including (but not limited to) balls that have been frozen, micro-waved, heated, melted, cooled, recovered, restictched, surface modified to be rougher or softer, etc.

ALTERED BAT is a bat that has had its physical structure changed, including, but not limited to:

1. The bat has had the surface of the barrel or the taper changed in any way such as by addition of graphics, painting, repainting, removal of bat material or paint by any means including but not limited to sandpapering or applying a solvent to the surface such as fingernail polish remover or by any other means.

2. The bat has had the plug or the knob removed/replaced or changed in any way.

3. The bat has had anything removed or added or inserted to the inside or outside of the bat other than tape at the handle or knob. Other examples of altering a bat would be changing or replacing manufacturers’ markings or replacing the handle of a bat with a new handle.. Replacing the grip, adding tape or adding a build up to the handle is not considered altering a bat.

4. The bat has been subjected to pressure in a manner that exceeds that of striking the bat at game speed swing speed against a USSSA approved ball traveling at game speeds. Such pressure would include, but is not limited to, compressing the bat, rolling the bat, vicing the bat or hitting the bat against an object such as a tree or pole. The bat has in any other way had its on field performance improved by physically changing the bat (other than by hitting the bat at game condition swing speeds against a USSSA approved ball traveling at game condition speeds).

BALL. The ball is one of the playing implements. The term is also used to designate a pitch, which is not touched by the bat and is not a strike.

BASE LINE. A base line is an imaginary direct line between the bases.

BASE ON BALLS. If a batter receives four balls, he is awarded a base on balls (often referred to as a “walk”) and shall go immediately to first base before time-out can be called. The defense may not notify the Umpire nor cause illegal pitch(es) to intentionally walk a batter. A team may intentionally walk a batter. However they must throw four pitches. They cannot simply declare to put the batter on base nor can the pitcher commit repeated illegal pitches.

BASE PATH. A base path is a direct line between a base and the runner’s position at the time a defensive player is attempting (or about to attempt) to tag a runner.

BAT, ILLEGAL. An illegal bat is one that does not meet the requirements of Rule 2 Sec 10 – The Official Bat as described in the Equipment Rule.

BATTED BALL. A batted ball is any ball that comes in contact with the bat. It need not be intentional.

A. A FLY BALL is a batted ball that rises to an appreciable height above the ground.

B. A LINE DRIVE is a batted ball which travels parallel or nearly so with the ground through most of its flight.

C. A GROUND BALL is one that is neither a fly nor a line drive.

BATTER. The offensive player whose turn it is to bat.

BATTER-RUNNER. The batter-runner is a player who has finished their time at bat and has left the batter’s box (both feet touching completely outside the box) but has not yet been put out or reached first base.

BATTER’S BOX. The batter’s box is the area including the lines in which the batter is positioned while at bat.

BATTING ORDER. The batting order is the official listing of offensive players by first and last name, in the order in which they are to bat. Uniform number and defensive position shall be listed on the lineup sheet.

BLOCKED BALL. A blocked ball is a fair ball, batted or thrown, which is touched, stopped or handled by a person not engaged in the game; or touches any object which is not part of the official equipment or official playing area; or touches loose equipment.

BUNT. A bunt is a legally batted ball, which occurs when the batter does not swing to hit the ball, but holds the bat in the path of the ball to tap it slowly to the infield.

BUNT, ATTEMPTED. An attempted bunt (“offer”) is any movement of the bat toward the ball when the ball is over or near the plate area. Holding the bat in the strike zone is considered an attempt to bunt. In order to take a pitch, the bat must be pulled back away from the ball. If an attempted bunt results in a foul ball, it is treated as any other foul ball, if the batter has two strikes and this happens, he is out.

BUNT, DRAG. A drag bunt is a bunt where the batter attempts to bunt the ball by running forward in the batter box, carrying the bat with her. The movement of the bat is in conjunction with the batters forward movement.

CATCH. A catch is the act of a fielder getting secure possession in a hand or glove of a live ball in flight and firmly holding it.

A. In establishing a valid catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove complete control of it and that the release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.

1. If a player drops the ball after reaching into the glove to remove it or while in the act of throwing, it is a valid catch.

2. It is considered a catch if a fielder catches the ball before leaving live-ball area by stepping or falling into a bench, dugout, stand, bleacher or over any boundary or barrier, such as a fence, rope, chalk line, or a pre-game determined imaginary boundary line of the field of play. Falling into does not include merely running against such object.

3. A fielder who is out of play may come back to live ball territory and make a valid play.

4. A collapsible fence is considered in play.

B. A Catch shall not be credited when

1. The fielder traps the ball.

2. A fielder catches a batted, pitched or thrown ball with anything other than the hand(s) or properly worn glove. A cap, protector, mask, pocket or other part of the uniform may not be used to catch the ball. A ball prevented from hitting the ground by a player’s equipment (providing it is in its proper place) or body shall not be ruled caught until the ball is securely held in the player’s hand(s) or glove/mitt.

3. The fielder uses any equipment or part of her uniform that is displaced from its proper position to play on a batted ball.

4. A fielder is out of play while:

a. One foot is entirely touching out of play. Note: an out of play line is in play.

b. Any other part of the body is touching out of play.

c. In the air after being out of play.

5. The fielder is standing on the fence as it is lying on the ground beyond the original plane of the home-run fence when they contact the ball.

6. The ball strikes anything or anyone other than another defensive player while it is in flight even though it is then caught by a defensive player.

7. Immediately after a catch, the fielder collides with another player, Umpire or fence, or falls to the ground and fails to maintain possession of the ball.

CATCHER’S BOX. The catcher’s box is area in which the catcher must remain from the time the pitcher steps on the pitcher’s plate until the pitch is released. The catcher’s body and equipment are considered within the box unless touching the ground outside the box.

COACH’S BOX. The coach’s box is the area to which the two base coaches (one per box) are restricted prior to release of the pitch.

CONFERENCE, CHARGED. A charged conference takes place when a coach or bench personnel requests time-out to meet with offensive or defensive personnel.

CONFERENCE, PRE-GAME. A pre-game conference is a meeting involving the Umpires and the coaches near home plate. Team captains may also attend.

CROW HOP. A crow hop is the act in which the pitcher’s pivot foot leaves the pitcher’s plate and replants prior to delivery of the pitch.

DEAD BALL. It is a dead ball when the ball is not in play. The ball is not considered in play again until the pitcher is in possession of the ball and is stationed within the 16-foot circle and the Plate Umpire calls “Play Ball.”

DEAD-BALL AREA. The dead-ball area is beyond any real boundary, such as a fence, rope, chalk line, any stands, bleachers, dugouts, players’ bench or designated media area; or any imaginary boundary line as determined in the pregame conference. If a ball becomes lodged in a fence or backstop, it is considered to be in dead-ball area.

DESIGNATED PLAYER (DP). The Primary Role of the DP is to play offense (bats/runs) for the FLEX. The DP may play defense at any position.

DUGOUT. An out-of-play area reserved for rostered players, coaches, and official representatives of the team only.

EJECTED. A player or coach removed from the game by the Umpire, usually for an unsportsmanlike act or conduct. A flagrant act will require the player or coach to leave the grounds for the remainder of the game. Any ejected player or coach discovered participating in the game would constitute a forfeit.

FAIR BALL. A fair ball is a batted ball which:

A. Settles or is touched on or over fair territory between home and first base or home and third base;

B. Is on or over fair territory including any part of first and third base when bounding to the outfield.
C. Touches first, second or third bases.

D. While on or over fair territory touches the person of any Umpire or player or their clothing or equipment except the batter in the batter’s box.

E. While over fair territory passes out of the playing field in flight.

F. First falls or is touched on or over fair territory beyond first or third base.

G. While over fair territory, an offensive player interferes with a defensive player attempting to field a batted ball.

NOTE: A fair fly shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line, including the foul pole, and not as to whether the fielder is in fair or foul territory at the time he touches the ball. It does not matter whether the ball first touches fair or foul territory as long as it does not touch anything foreign to the natural ground in foul territory and complies with all other aspects of a fair ball.

FAIR TERRITORY. Fair territory is that part of the playing field within, and including, the foul lines from home plate to the bottom of the playing field fence and perpendicularly upwards.

FIELDER. A fielder is any player of the team in the field.

FLEX. The Primary Role of the FLEX is to play defense only which can be at any defensive position. The FLEX player is placed in the FLEX position, a nonbatting position listed last in the lineup. The FLEX may remain in the FLEX position for the entire game, or may assume the DP’s position in the batting order and play offense (bat/run).

FORCE PLAY. A force play is a play on the batter-runner at first base, or any other runner who loses the right to the base occupied and is forced to advance because the batter became a batter-runner. For a given runner, a force play ends as soon as batter-runner reaches first base or any other runner reaches the next base or a following runner is put out. When a forced runner, after touching the next base, retreats for any reason toward the base they last occupied, the force play is reinstated.

FORFEIT. A forfeited game is one awarded to the opponent of the offending team. The score shall be recorded as 7 to 0.

FOUL BALL. A foul ball is a batted ball which:

A. Settles or is touched on or over foul on foul territory between home and first base, or between home and third base.

B. Bounds past first or third base on or over foul territory.

C. First falls on foul territory beyond first or third base.

D. While on or over foul territory touches the person of an Umpire, a player or any object foreign to the natural ground or contacts the batter in the batter’s box.

E. Is in foul territory when a base runner in foul territory interferes with a defensive player’s attempt to field a batted ball.

F. Touches the batter or the bat in the batter’s hand(s) a second time while the batter is still within the batter’s box.

FOUL TERRITORY. Foul territory is that part of the playing field outside the foul lines and perpendicularly upwards.

FOUL TIP. A foul tip is a batted ball, which goes directly and speedily from the bat to the catcher’s mitt or hand and is legally caught by the catcher, ball remains live.

Note: Any batted ball that travels directly from the bat to any part of the catcher’s body or equipment other than the hand(s) or glove/mitt, is a foul ball and dead. It is not a foul tip.


A. A regulation game is seven innings (term at bat) unless extra inning(s) are necessary because of a tie score, or unless shortened because the home team does not require its half of the seventh inning or only a fraction of it, or because of weather or darkness.

B. A called game is one that is ended by order of the Umpire.

C. A suspended game is a game to be completed at a later time.

ILLEGAL PLAYER. A player who takes a position in the lineup, either on offense or defense, who does not have a legal right to the position.

INELIGIBLE PLAYER. A player who is unregistered or who does not meet requirements to register.

Examples of an ineligible player but not limited to are:

1. Playing under an assumed name.

2. Players not on the team roster.

3. Violating divisional age requirements.

IN FLIGHT. A batted or thrown ball is in flight until it has touched the ground or some object on fair or foul ground, or it has touched a person other than a fielder.

INFIELD. The infield is that portion of the field in fair territory that is normally skinned and covered by infielders.

INFIELD FLY. An infield fly is a fair fly (not including a line drive or an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort (rule does not preclude outfielders from being allowed to make the catch); and provided the hit is made before two are out and at a time when first and second base or all bases are occupied.

INFIELDER. An infielder is a fielder who defends the skinned area of the field around first, second, third or shortstop areas. They usually are the first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, pitcher and catcher.

INITIAL PLAY. A fielder is considered to be making an initial play on a fair batted ball, a ball which could become fair or a foul fly ball when he has a reasonable chance to gain control of a batted ball that no other fielder (except the pitcher) has touched or a reasonable chance to catch the ball in flight after it touches another fielder. The fielder is still considered to be making an initial play if he fails to gain control of the batted ground ball and is within a step and a reach (in any direction) of the spot of the initial play.


A. An inning is that portion of the game, which includes a time at bat for each team.

B. A half inning is the interval during which one team is on offense (batting) and the other is on defense (fielding). A half inning ends when there is a third out or when, in the last inning, the winning run is scored. In either case, if there is a delayed out declared by the Umpire for a base running infraction, a possible fourth out may be recognized for the inning, depending on the circumstances. A new half inning begins immediately after the end of the previous half inning.

C. An extra inning is one, which extends the game beyond regulation play in an attempt to break a tie score.

INTERFERENCE. Interference is an act which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play.

A. Offensive interference is interference (physical or verbal) by the team at bat, or when a runner creates malicious contact with any fielder with or without the ball, in or out of the baseline; or when a coach physically assists a runner during playing action.

B. Umpire interference is when the Umpire, inadvertently moves so as to hinder a catcher’s attempt to throw or when a fair, untouched ball touches an Umpire before the closest infielder has a reasonable opportunity to field the ball.

C. Spectator interference is any action by a spectator, which impedes the progress of the game.

LEAP. A leap is when both feet are airborne

OBSTRUCTION. Obstruction is the act of a defensive team member which hinders a runner or changes the pattern of play or when a catcher or fielder hinders a batter unless the fielder is in possession of the ball or making an initial play on a batted ball. The act may be intentional or unintentional, physical or verbal.

A. It is catcher obstruction when a catcher hinders or prevents a batter from swinging at a pitch.

B. A fake tag is an act by a defensive player that simulates an attempt to tag a runner. Faking a tag is always considered obstruction.

ON-DECK BATTER. The on-deck batter is the offensive player who follows the batter in the batting order.

ON-DECK CIRCLE. An on-deck circle for each team is a circle 5 feet in diameter located a safe distance to the side and away from home plate, at least 30 feet if space allows.

OUTFIELD. The outfield is that portion of the field beyond the infield.

OUTFIELDER. An outfielder is a fielder who defends the outfield.

PASSED BALL. A passed ball is a pitch which the catcher fails to stop or control with ordinary effort and which enables a runner to advance.

PIVOT FOOT. The pitchers pivot foot is that foot which is in contact with the ground, as opposed to the non-pivot foot, which the pitcher uses to step toward home plate.

PLAY BALL. Play ball is the term used by the Plate Umpire to indicate that play shall start and shall not be declared until all defensive players are in fair territory except the catcher, who must be in the catcher’s box, and all runners are properly on base.

QUICK PITCH. A quick pitch is a pitch made by the pitcher with the obvious attempt to catch the batter off balance. This would be before the batter takes a desired position in the batter’s box or while the batter is still off balance as a result of the previous pitch.

RESTRICTED TO THE BENCH. A player or coach who has been confined to the dugout/bench area for the remainder of the game. It is generally as a result of an infraction of a playing rule (not an unsportsmanlike act or conduct).

RUNNER. A runner is an offensive player who has reached first base and has not yet been put out.

SACRIFICE. A sacrifice is a bunt which enables any runner to advance, or a fly ball which enables a runner to score; but, in either case, results in the batter-runner being put out before reaching first base or would have resulted in the batterrunner being put out if the hit had been fielded without error and provided two were not out when the ball was hit. A sacrifice is not listed as a “time-atbat.”

SLAP HIT. A slap hit occurs when the batter gives the appearance of bunting, using a modified swing or slap at the ball as it approaches home plate. If an attempt to “SLAP” is a foul ball, it is treated the same as any other foul ball including an attempt by the batter with two strikes.

SLIDE. A legal slide can be either feet first or head first. If a runner slides feet first, at least one leg and buttock shall be on the ground. If a runner slides, the runner shall be within reach of the base with either a hand or a foot when the slide is completed.

A slide is illegal if:

A. The runner uses a rolling, cross-body or pop-up slide into the fielder.

B. The runner’s raised leg is higher than the fielder’s knee when the fielder is in a standing position.

C. The runner goes beyond the base and makes contact with or alters the play of the fielder.

D. The runner slashes or kicks the fielder with either leg.

E. The runner tries to injure the fielder.

OVER SLIDE. An over slide is the act of an offensive player when, as a runner, over slides a base the player is attempting to reach. It is usually caused when the player’s momentum causes the player to lose contact with the base leaving the player in jeopardy. The batter-runner may over slide first base without being in jeopardy.

STARTING PLAYER. A starting player is one of the first nine, ten, eleven or twelve (if using the optional DP/FLEX and/or APs) listed on the lineup card that is approved by the Plate Umpire.

STRIKE ZONE. The strike zone is that space over home plate, which is between the batters forward armpit and the top of the knees when the batter assumes a natural batting stance. Any part of the ball passing through the strike zone in flight shall be considered a strike; the Umpire shall determine the batter’s strike zone according to the batter’s usual stance.

STRIKEOUT. A strikeout is the result of the pitcher getting a third strike charged to a batter. In Fastpitch, this usually results in the batter being out. Anytime first base is unoccupied, or there are two outs, and the third strike is not caught before the ball touches the ground, the batter-runner is entitled to advance.

See exception in 10 & Under and Younger Section.

SUBSTITUTE. Any member of a team’s roster who is not listed as a starting player, or a starting player who re-enters the game.

TAG OUT. A tag out is the putting out of a runner (including the batter-runner), who is not touching a base, by touching the runner with a live ball or with the glove or hand when the live ball is securely held therein by a fielder. The ball is not considered as having been held securely if it is juggled or dropped after the touching unless the runner deliberately knocks the ball from the hand of the fielder.

THROW. A throw is the act of voluntarily losing possession through having the ball leave the hand for a purpose other than a pitch. It may result in the ball being bounced, handed, rolled, tossed or thrown.

THROW OUT. A throw out is a putout caused by a throw to first base to retire a batter-runner, or to any other base to which a runner is forced or is required to retouch.

TIME. “Time” is the command of the Umpire to suspend play. The ball becomes dead when it is given.

TRAP. A batted fly ball or line drive is considered trapped if it hits the ground or a fence on a short hop before being caught. A thrown ball is considered trapped if it is caught but the ball is on the ground and the glove/mitt/hand is over, rather than under, it and the fielder does not have secure possession. A pitched ball is considered trapped if it is a strike but touches the ground on a short hop before being caught by the catcher.

TURN AT BAT. A turn at bat begins when a player first enters the batter’s box and continues until the player is substituted for, put out, or becomes a batter-runner while at bat.

WILD PITCH. A wild pitch is a pitch that cannot be handled by the catcher with ordinary effort.


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