Basic Baseball Rules

basic baseball rules

Basic baseball rules for young players and parents. These simple rules are perfect for introducing new folks to the game. 

little league


Baseball is played by two teams of 9 players each who try to score more runs than their opponent by rounding the bases and crossing home plate as many times as possible. 

The batting team stays up to bat until the fielding team puts out 3 batters.

Playing Area

baseball field

The playing area is often referred to as a baseball diamond due to its shape. It consists of a pitcher's mound, 4 bases, an infield, and an outfield.

baseball field diagrams

Click diagram for baseball field diagrams dimensions


Players line up in the following positions:

  1. Pitcher – on the pitcher's mound
  2. Catcher - behind home plate
  3. 1st Baseman
  4. 2nd Baseman
  5. 3rd Baseman
  6. Shortstop – between 2nd and 3rd base
  7. Leftfielder – outfield behind 2nd and 3rd base
  8. Centerfielder – outfield behind 2nd base
  9. Rightfielder – outfield behind 1st and 2nd base

Basic Baseball Rules

You need a bat, batting helmet, baseball, gloves for each outfielder, 4 bases, and a pitching rubber.

Baseball bats

baseball bat

Baseball helmets

baseball helmet



Baseball gloves

baseball glove

Baseball bases

baseball bases

Pitching rubber

rubber pitchers plate

Starting Play

The visiting team bats first while the home team starts out in the field on defense. Each fielder lines up in one of the 9 fielding positions. The first batter steps into the batter's box and prepares to hit the pitch.


batter's box

There is a batter's box on both sides of home plate. The batter may choose which side of the plate to hit from, but both of his feet must be inside the box.

He attempts to score runs by hitting the ball when it's pitched to him. The batter may continue to hit until he:

  • hits the ball in fair territory
  • gets 3 strikes
  • gets 4 balls

Basic Baseball Rules


The strike zone is the area between the batter's shoulders and knees. A "strike" is called by the umpire when the batter:

  • fails to swing at a pitch that crosses the plate in the strike zone.
  • swings at a pitch and misses.
  • hits the ball out of bounds with fewer than two strikes against him.

Once he gets 3 strikes he is out, and the next batter comes up to the plate.

A batter can't strike out on a foul ball. If he has two strikes, there's no limit to the number of foul balls he is allowed to hit. He can only strike out on a swing and miss or a ball he fails to swing at in the strike zone.

Basic Baseball Rules

A "ball" is a pitch that crosses the plate outside of the strike zone that the batter does not swing at. If a batter receives 4 balls, he gets to walk to first base. If a batter swings at a ball outside the strike zone and misses, he is called for a strike.


The batter becomes a runner when:

  • he hits a ball in fair territory and runs to first base.
  • he walks after 4 balls.
  • he is hit by a pitch.
  • the catcher drops the third strike. (If the batter is called for his 3rd strike but the catcher misses the ball, the batter may try to beat the ball to first base.)

A runner can move to the next base if the ball is overthrown or after a wild pitch.

A runner may overrun 1st base when he hits the ball as long as he turns out of bounds after he passes the base. Runners may not overrun any other base. If they do and are tagged while they are off the base, they are out.

Basic Baseball Rules

A standard game lasts 9 innings. Each inning is divided into a top and bottom half with each team having a turn at bat.

The visiting team bats the first half (or top) of each inning, and the home team bats the second half (or bottom) of the inning.

A half inning is completed when the batting team gets 3 outs. If the score is tied at the end of 9 innings, extra innings are played until there is a winner.

If the home team is ahead going into the bottom of the 9th inning, there is no need for them to come up to bat, so the game is usually called.

Basic Baseball Rules

baseball scoring

The team that scores the most runs is the winner. A run is scored when a base runner rounds all of the bases by stepping on each one in order from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and crosses home plate.

If the ball is hit over the outfield fence in fair territory, it is considered a home run and the batter has a free trip all the way around the bases until he crosses home plate.

Grand slam - A home run that's hit with the bases loaded (runners on every base.) All of the base runners round the bases and go home for a total of 4 points.

Basic Baseball Rules
Putting Players Out

batter is out if:

  • he hits the ball and it's caught while it's in the air, which is known as a fly ball (even if it's caught in foul territory.)
  • he gets 3 strikes.

runner is out if:

  • he is hit by a batted ball while off a base.
  • a fielder tags him with the ball when he is not touching a base.
  • he runs more than 3 feet out of the baseline to avoid being tagged.
  • a fielder with the ball tags a base at which there is a force play before the forced runner reaches the base.
  • he runs past a base runner that’s ahead of him.
baseball throw

Double play - When 2 players get out on the same play.

Triple play - When 3 players get out on the same play.

Force play - When a batter hits the ball and runs to 1st base, he forces the runner on 1st base to move to 2nd base. If there's also a runner on 2nd, he must move to 3rd base, and if there's also a runner on 3rd base, he must run home. A runner is out if he is tagged by a fielder before reaching the base he is forced to run to or if a fielder with a ball touches the base before he gets there.

baseball fielding

Steal - When a runner runs to the next base without the ball being hit, usually before the pitcher pitches the ball. The runner is out if he is tagged with the ball before reaching the base.

Tagging up – When a fielder catches a fly ball, a runner cannot leave the base until after the ball hits the fielder's glove. If he leaves the base too early, he has to go back and touch the base before he can run to the next base. If the ball gets to his base before he returns to tag up, he is out.

Basic Baseball Rules

baseball dugout

Depending on the number of players, skill level, available equipment, or the size of your playing area, you can modify the basic rules of baseball to fit your needs. Here are some modifications you can make to get a game going:

plastic baseballs

Plastic baseballs

Franklin Sports Future Champs 2in Power-Blast Oversized Foam Bat and Ball Set

Over-sized bats & balls

batting tee

Batting tee

  • Reduce the size of the field.
  • Reduce the number of bases.
  • Use a bigger or softer ball that you can catch without a glove and hit a little easier.
  • Use a fatter bat.
  • Hit the ball off of a batting tee instead of pitching it.
  • Allow every player on a team to bat before changing sides instead of playing 3 outs.
  • Put a limit to the number of points a team can score each inning. When they reach their limit, the teams exchange places.
  • Don't call balls or strikes. Give each batter 3 swings at the ball.
  • On each hit, allow the batter to run the bases all the way around to home. If he reaches home before the hit is fielded and thrown around to every infielder and back to the pitcher, he scores a point.

These are just a few ways to tweak the basic baseball rules to fit your needs. Maybe they'll give you some ideas for adapting the game to make it more fun for your group.

If you have a child with special needs, I recommend you look for a Miracle League in your area. This amazing organization adapts the basic baseball rules so that EVERYONE can participate in keeping with their motto, "Every child deserves a chance to play baseball.".

 More kids sports activities that include modified baseball games...

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