9.0 Playing Rules

9.01 Playing Field Dimensions.

(A) Rookie Division Playing Field Dimensions – Bases will be 65 feet apart. Pitchers mounds will be 46 feet from home plate. Rookie Division– No metal spikes will be allowed.

(B) Freshman Division Playing Field Dimensions – Bases will be 70 feet apart. Pitchers mounds will be 50 feet, 6 inches from home plate. Freshman Division – No metal spikes will be allowed.

9.02 Protective Headgear.

(A) All players must wear protective helmets (inside liners are not acceptable) while batting and base running in all NABF tournaments. Refusal to wear the protective helmet will result in the player’s immediate removal from the game, and a player substituted for him/her at the plate or on the base. The protective helmets must have a double earflap and protector for the base of the skull.

(B) All coaches must wear protective helmets (with earflaps or without) while in either coaching box in all NABF tournaments. Refusal to wear protective helmet will result in the coach’s removal from the game.

9.03 Catcher’s Equipment. Catchers in all NABF tournament games must use full catching equipment including face mask with throat guard, chest protector, shin guards, glove, athletic protector, and catcher’s helmet. Refusal to wear said protective equipment will result in the player’s immediate removal from the game.

9.04 Uniforms.

(A) Complete uniform. All players and coaches must be in complete and matching uniforms to participate in any NABF Regional or World Series game. All players and coaches must have a unique number, prominently displayed on the back of their shirts to assist game officials in identifying the team personnel. Coaching staff team members participating in Sophomore Division NABF tournaments and any age bracket below the Sophomore Division may wear coaches pants or coaches shorts, provided all coaches are attired alike and uniformed identically in same color and trim as their fully uniformed players.

(B) Logo Patches. Teams participating in NABF championship games at the regional and national level may display on a uniform shirt front or sleeve, the NABF logo patch or the NABF logo patch may also be displayed on the uniform cap, front or side.

(C) Logo patches representing other national organizations shall not be permitted.

Penalty: Failure of players and/or coaches to comply with 9.04A and/or 9.04C will result in immediate removal of the players and/or coaches from the game. Teams failing to field a team in compliance with Rule 9.04A and 9.04C shall forfeit their game to the opposing team.


9.05 Bats.

(A) Metal Bats. Magnesium and aluminum bats and other metallic substance bats which conform to weight and size standards as described in the Playing Rules as defined in Article VII, Section 1 of the NABF Constitution and By-Laws shall be acceptable in NABF tournament play. All bats must conform to USA Baseball bat standards in the Rookie, Freshman and Sophomore Divisions. (The NABF-approved list of certified bats can be researched at http://USABat.com.)

(B) Wooden Bats. The following rule will apply to NABF Regional and National Championship Tournament Games. The bat shall be a smooth round stick not more than 2 3/4 inches in diameter at the thickest part and not more than 42 inches in length. The bat shall be one piece of solid wood.

Cupped Bats – Forming an indentation in the end of the bat up to one inch in depth is permitted and may be no wider than two inches and no less than one inch in diameter. The indentation must be curved with no foreign substance added.

The Bat Handle – For not more than 18 inches from its end may be covered or treated with any material or substance to improve the grip. (See official MLB Rule 1.10A, B, C and D).

(C) Major, College, Senior, High School, and Junior Age Division Bats.  Wooden Bats as described under Rule 9.05B – Wooden Bats must be used in all Major, College, Senior, High School, and Junior Division National Regional and National Championship Series Games with NO exceptions. 

            (1) Permitted Wood Species:

                  Aodamo (Japanese Ash)               Hickory                       Tamo (Japanese Ash)

                  Ash                                                Maple (Hard)              Yellow Birch

                  European Beech                            Red Oak

            (2) Bats can be one solid color or can be two-tone with the handle being one color and the barrel being of a second color. The color white can only be used on the handle. The color white will NOT be permitted on the barrel of the bat.

            (3) The bat's entire grain must be visible to permit                 visual grading to detect defects in the wood.

PENALTY: If the umpire discovers that the bat does not conform to any of the above rules, when the batter comes to bat or while he is batting or after he has completed his at bat, he is declared out and the batter and team manager (head coach) will be ejected from the game.

NOTE: If so designated, Metal bats may be used in NABF National Classics tournament events (see NABF Rule 9.05 (A) Metal Bats).

(D) Bats – Sophomore Age Division Only.  The bats for the Sophomore Division must meet the USA Baseball bat standards. All bats must be labeled with a silkscreen or other permanent certification marking of the bat in any contrasting color. Teams are allowed to use bats that meet the Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR), bat also labeled with a permanent certification marking located on the bat, in any contrasting color. All other specifications are as stipulated in section 9.05.

PENALTY: If the umpire discovers that the bat does not conform to any of the above rules, when the batter comes to bat or while he is batting or after he has completed his at bat, he is declared out and the batter and team manager (head coach) will be ejected from the game.

NOTE: If so designated, Metal bats may be used in NABF National Classics tournament events (see NABF rule 9.05 (A) Metal Bats).

9.06 Determining Home and Visiting Teams. Before all NABF tournament games the home team and visiting teams must be determined by a toss of the coin.

9.07 Designated Hitter (DH). The designated hitter rule as adopted by the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs may be utilized in all NABF tournaments. (See Rule 9.08.)

9.08 Designated Hitter Rule. A hitter may be designated to bat for the starting pitcher and all subsequent pitchers in any game without otherwise affecting the status of the pitcher(s) in the game.

(A) A Designated Hitter for the pitcher must be selected prior to the game and must be included in the lineup cards presented to the umpire-in-chief. The starting player listed in the batting order as the Designated Hitter must bat at least once before he can be substituted for, unless the opposing team changes the pitcher.

(B) It is not mandatory that a club designate a hitter for the pitcher, but failure to do so prior to the game precludes the use of the Designated Hitter for that game.

(C) Pinch hitters for the Designated Hitter may be used. Any substitute hitter for the Designated Hitter himself/herself becomes the Designated Hitter. A replaced Designated Hitter shall not re-enter the game in any capacity.

(D) The Designated Hitter may be used defensively, continuing to bat in the same position in the batting order, but the pitcher must then bat in the place of the substituted defensive player, unless more than one substitution is made, and the manager then must designate their spots in the batting order.

(E) A runner may be substituted for the Designated Hitter and the runner assumes the role of the Designated Hitter.

(F) A Designated Hitter is “locked” into the batting order. No multiple substitutions may be made that will alter the batting rotation of the Designated Hitter.

(G) Once the game pitcher is switched from the mound to a defensive position, this move shall terminate the Designated Hitter role for the remainder of the game. Once a defensive player is switched from a field position to the pitcher's position, this move shall terminate the Designated Hitter role for the remainder of the game.

(H) Once a pinch hitter bats for any player in the batting order and then enters the game to pitch, this move shall terminate the Designated Hitter role for the remainder of the game.

(I) Once the game pitcher bats for the Designated Hitter this move shall terminate the Designated Hitter role for the remainder of the game.

9.09 Trips to the Mound. If a manager or coach goes to the mound twice in one (1) inning to the same pitcher, that pitcher must be removed. He/she may finish the game in any other position, but cannot return to the mound for the duration of the game. Note: On the first trip to the mound by the manager, the pitcher may be moved to a defensive position and the pitcher may return to the mound at anytime during the game. However, this move terminates the designated hitter role for the remainder of the game. (See Official Baseball Rule 6.10)

9.10 Game Umpires. Not less than two (2) umpires shall be assigned to work any tournament game, and no team shall be required to play a tournament game without at least two qualified umpires working the contest unless the managers of both teams agree to do so in writing.

9.11 Pitching Requirements. Each NABF member team shall follow the pitching guidelines as described under Rule 9.13, providing the maximum number of pitches thrown per game and the required number of days rest each respective pitcher must have between games he/she is scheduled to pitch.  Such pitcher(s) observing the rest period may participate at any other playing position during the rest period.  Pitching restrictions for the Limited Age group shall be observed by the managers, coaches, and players representing their association during any NABF National Regional or National Championship series of games.  No manager, coach, League Director, player, or anyone else shall waive any pitching requirements.  The responsibility for the players’ safety shall be with managers and/or the coaches of the competing team(s).

9.12 Pitching Restrictions.

(A) An illegal pitcher (under Rule 9.13) must be protested by an opposing manager prior to a pitcher leaving the mound for a substitute pitcher. No protest shall be allowed after the pitcher is replaced or after the game is complete.

(B) If an illegal pitcher is protested during a game under Rule 9.13, no team shall be required to forfeit the game. The penalty shall be the removal of the pitcher immediately.

(C) Major League balk rules shall be used in Series games.

(D) Pitchers shall not be allowed to return to the game as a pitcher once removed from the mound but may play in another defensive position if eligible under the substitution rules.

9.13 Pitching Guidelines for 22 Years of Age and Younger. NOTE: The NABF accepts MLB/Pitch Smart/USA Baseball’s recommendations on pitch count limits and required rest as found on MLB’s website (m.mlb.com/pitchsmart/pitching-guidelines).


No pitcher shall appear in a game as a pitcher for three (3) consecutive days, regardless of pitch counts.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the parent and the athlete to ensure that the player follows the guidelines for his age group over the course of a year, given that he will oftentimes play in multiple leagues with different affiliations covering different times of the year.

9.14 NABF Slide Rule (nine and under through twenty-two and under
groups). 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, he must slide within reach of the base with either a hand or a foot.

A slide is illegal if:

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

(B) the runner’s raised leg is higher than the fielder’s knee when the fielder is in a standing position, or

(C) the runner goes beyond the base and then makes contact with or alters the play of the fielder, or

(D) the runner slashes or kicks the fielder with either leg, or

(E) the runner tries to injure the fielder, or

(F) the runner, on a force play, does not slide on the ground and in a direct line between the two bases.

EXCEPTION: A runner may slide or run in a direction away
from the fielder to avoid making contact or altering the play of the fielder.

PENALTY: (1) With less than two outs, the batter-runner, as well as the interfering runner, shall be declared out and no other runner(s) shall advance. (2) With two outs, the interfering runner shall be declared out and no other runner(s) shall advance. (3) If the runner’s slide or collision is flagrant, the runner shall be ejected from the contest.

9.15 Collision Rule. When there is a collision between a runner and fielder who clearly is in possession of the ball, the umpire shall Judge:

(A) Whether the collision by the runner was avoidable (could the runner have reached the base without colliding) or unavoidable (the runner’s path to the base was blocked) or

(B) Whether the runner actually was attempting to reach the base (plate) or attempting to dislodge the ball from the fielder.

PENALTY: If the runner:

(A) could have avoided the collision and reached the base, or

(B) attempted to dislodge the ball, the runner shall be declared out even if the fielder loses possession of the ball. The ball is dead and all other base runners shall return to the last base touched at the time of the interference.

A.R.1. – If the fielder blocks the path of the base runner to
the base (plate), the runner may make contact, slide into, or collide with a fielder as long as the runner is making a
legitimate attempt to reach the base or plate.

A.R.2. – If the collision by the runner was flagrant, the
runner shall be declared out and also ejected from the
contest. The ball shall be declared dead.

(C) If the defensive player blocks the base (plate) or base line clearly without possession of the ball, obstruction shall be called. The runner is safe and a delayed dead ball shall be called.

A.R.1. – If the runner collides flagrantly, he shall be
declared safe on the obstruction, but will be ejected from
the contest. The ball is dead.

9.16 Extra Innings. With extra inning of play in pool play only, both the Visitor and Home team shall begin their respective half inning at bat with a runner at second base. The runner at second base will be the player in the batting order position previous to the lead-off batter for the inning (or a substitute player).

Example: If the number five hitter in the batting order is due to lead off the 10th inning, the number four hitter in the batting order (or a pinch runner for such player) shall begin the inning at second base. Any runner or batter removed from the game for a substitute shall be ineligible to return to the game, as is the case in all circumstances under the Official Baseball Rules.