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2020 USSSA Updates (Online revisions)

Nov 18, 2015
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Copied from the email I received from USSSA:

At its 52nd annual convention in Fort Myers, Florida, USSSA introduced several fastpitch rule changes for the 2020 season. They are effective January 1, 2020 and will be revised in the online rule book. Contact your State Director with any questions on the rule changes.

"Our rule book is now on a two year print cycle and this is the off year," according to Andy Wisk, chairman of the USSSA National Fastpitch Committee. "Off year changes, which are made to the online version of the rule book, are generally made to clarify previous revisions, or to enhance safety."

SUMMARY OF RULE CHANGES:

PITCHER'S FOOT PLACEMENT: this change eliminates the requirement that a pitcher must have part of her pivot foot (the right foot for a right-handed pitcher) on top of the pitcher's plate. The rule will now only require the pivot foot to be in contact with the plate.

It also allows the pitcher to start with the non-pivot ("stride") foot in contact with or behind the plate and allows the pitcher to step back with the non-pivot foot, provided the step-back begins prior to starting the pitch by separating the hands.

"This change aligns our rule on pitcher's feet placement with the other major rule books in youth softball," said Jami Lobpries, National Director of Fastpitch. "With this revision, USSSA, USA Softball, and the National Federation of State High School Associations will have a unified pitching rule."

"This is a 'win-win' for all the stakeholders," according to Wisk. "Nobody who has been pitching legally under existing rules will have to change their pitching style unless they want to, but pitchers who want to pitch using styles legal in college and high school will also be compliant. Additionally, those who administer our events, such as directors and umpires should have less confusion to deal with due to this rule alignment."

COACH SIT OUT FOR EJECTIONS: this clarifies that the sit out game for a coach who is ejected must be the next game that is actually played. A non-played game such as a forfeit does not satisfy the sit out requirement.

NO BUNTING IN COACH/MACHINE PITCH – restores an omitted 2019 revision to Rule 17.

ENHANCED PENALTY FOR A PITCHER DELIBERATELY DROPPING OR ROLLING A BALL DURING THE PITCH: this changes the penalty to a team warning for the first offense, and player restriction/coach ejection for subsequent offenses.

"With the reduction in the illegal pitch penalty made last year, an illegal pitch is no longer the appropriate penalty for this violation," said Don Briscoe, National Rules Coordinator.

BYLAW CHANGES: There were several bylaw changes made to properly reflect the current structure and administration of USSSA fastpitch and a clarification made on determining home/visitor in national championship double elimination brackets. That clarification is as follows:

Bracket play – higher seed gets choice (if equal seeds, then coin flip) Championship game – undefeated (winner's bracket) team gets choice, regardless of seed If necessary game – coin flip

USSSA is headquartered in Brevard County, Florida. USSSA is the world's largest multi-sport organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 4.2 million participants, competing in 14 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit www.usssa.com

Jami Lobpries, Ph.D National Director of USSSA Fastpitch
 
Jul 14, 2018
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Thanks for the update Gags. Was just having the conversation with DD's pitching coach this week about the stride foot placement and whether it gives any advantage to the pitcher. She said not to mess with it while USSSA is still holding out on the rule (we play a lot of U-Trip in these parts). Glad to hear the rule has become a standard.
 
Nov 18, 2015
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Some initial comments on the above:
  • I don't know why they included a comment about off-year changes being "generally made to clarify previous revisions...", b/c they contradict themselves 2 sentences later with a seemingly major change regarding the step-back.
  • I couldn't find the 2020 version posted online yet. If the following statement is true ("provided the step-back begins prior to starting the pitch by separating the hands", then I expect several paragraphs in Rule 6, Section 1 will be also be updated, since the 2019 version says "The pitch begins...when one hand is taken off the ball or the pitcher makes any motion that is part of the windup..." [my emphasis]. My own daughter uses the "Hillhouse" style of hiding the ball in the glove, and doesn't separate her hands until she's moving forward. As written, only pitchers that separate their hands during a backswing would be able to take advantage of this rule change.
  • Is there an advantage to a step-back? Does it add enough momentum or create a mechanical advantage that actually adds mph to the pitch?
 
Feb 10, 2018
56
18
Northern Virginia
Some initial comments on the above:
  • I don't know why they included a comment about off-year changes being "generally made to clarify previous revisions...", b/c they contradict themselves 2 sentences later with a seemingly major change regarding the step-back.
  • I couldn't find the 2020 version posted online yet. If the following statement is true ("provided the step-back begins prior to starting the pitch by separating the hands", then I expect several paragraphs in Rule 6, Section 1 will be also be updated, since the 2019 version says "The pitch begins...when one hand is taken off the ball or the pitcher makes any motion that is part of the windup..." [my emphasis]. My own daughter uses the "Hillhouse" style of hiding the ball in the glove, and doesn't separate her hands until she's moving forward. As written, only pitchers that separate their hands during a backswing would be able to take advantage of this rule change.
  • Is there an advantage to a step-back? Does it add enough momentum or create a mechanical advantage that actually adds mph to the pitch?
I don't know if there is any actual advantage, but my DD just feels more comfortable starting with her stride foot maybe 6-12 inches behind the rubber. She usually has part of her drive foot heel on the rubber. I am happy with the rule change--one less thing for her to worry about.
 
Aug 1, 2019
157
28
South Carolina
Not a fan with this USSSA change (and USA Softball's earlier this month) to align their pitching rules with NFHS. Now we've got at least THREE major fastpitch softball organizations that are allowing something that is illegal in college ball. While NCAA did change the rule for this upcoming season to allow the pitcher to place her non-pivot (stride) foot behind the plate to take her signal, they do NOT allow the pitcher to take a subsequent step back afterward. It will be interesting to see how many pitchers bring this motion to the college level and struggle early on.
 

MTR

Jun 22, 2008
3,435
48
Not a fan with this USSSA change (and USA Softball's earlier this month) to align their pitching rules with NFHS. Now we've got at least THREE major fastpitch softball organizations that are allowing something that is illegal in college ball. While NCAA did change the rule for this upcoming season to allow the pitcher to place her non-pivot (stride) foot behind the plate to take her signal, they do NOT allow the pitcher to take a subsequent step back afterward. It will be interesting to see how many pitchers bring this motion to the college level and struggle early on.
IMO, this just points out how much easier it was to just keep the original rule (both in contact w/PP) than to adjust rules down to ability.
 
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