Coach Interference Explanation

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Jun 18, 2023
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Ok. So that runner who rounded 2nd on the double can stand a few feet off the base while the ball is returned to the pitcher. So she either has to get back in contact with 2nd or make her way to 3rd and be in contact with the bag by the instant the next pitch is released. Correct?

Not trying to shoot this down, just trying to make sure I'm understanding correctly.

No, I'd say that if you haven't advanced, _and stop trying to advance_, then you can't advance. The pitcher has the ball, steps on the rubber (or whatever cue you want for "end" of the play) the runner has to return to second base. If they don't by the time the pitch is thrown, they're out for leaving early.

. If they just stand there off the base they are out under the lookback rule.

It's this judgement call that I'm trying to avoid. How long do they have? split second? 2 seconds? What purpose does this serve? If they accidentally take a step towards the next base they're basically out because they're forced to advance?

All in all, it just seems to create more issues than it solves. And all it seems to solve is preventing runners from taking a slight lead.
 
Jun 22, 2008
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Every umpire is going to be a little different, but the rule does say the runner must immediately choose to advance or return. Generally speaking, umpires are trained that once the ball gets into the circle they should give the runner just a moment to recognize the situation and make a decision. A lot of umpires will tell you they count one one thousand, and if the runner hasnt done anything by the time they start two one thousand they are calling the out.

There are some intracacies to the lookback rule. If the runner is stationary when the pitcher and ball enter the circle the runner must choose one way or the other. Yes, if the runner takes a step toward the next base they have committed to continuing non stop to that base. That is unless the pitcher now makes a play on them, now they lookback rule is off and the runner is free to reverse course back to the original base. Now, if the runner is in motion when the pitcher and ball enter the circle, the runner still has a stop and may then choose to either advance or return.

What purpose does the rule have? To stop the cat and mouse game of a runner continually dancing around off the base trying to get the pitcher to do something. There is nothing wrong with the rule, it just stops game playing.
 
Jun 18, 2023
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What purpose does the rule have? To stop the cat and mouse game of a runner continually dancing around off the base trying to get the pitcher to do something. There is nothing wrong with the rule, it just stops game playing.

so does simply saying that have to be on the base when the pitch happens.

The runner has what, 1-2 seconds between the time a SS holding her on turns and throws to the pitcher in the circle to step off and be in limbo. That's essentially all we're talking about. The purpose is to prevent leads right? So just

. Yes, if the runner takes a step toward the next base they have committed to continuing non stop to that base.

This is what I mean though. This is too subjective, especially when we're talking first base. And it's too many things for the umpire to pay attention to.

Do you have to run? Feel like if you simply walked towards third after overrunning it you'd still be able to play games with the pitcher. If the pitcher makes a throw to third you can simply dash back. If they don't you just take the base.

It all just seems needlessly complicated.
 
Jun 22, 2008
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Its not complicated, you are making it way more complicated than it is because it appears you are trying to play games with your runners which is exactly what the rule is there to stop. No, nothing in the rules says a runner must "run" to the next base. As long as they are moving in one direction or the other they satisfy the requirements of the rule.

I suggest going and watching higher level games and college games. You will barely notice the rule even exists because they are all aware of the rule. Now, that being said, the college rule has some differences and you will see some games being played there especially at first base on overruns. DO NOT attempt what college does at first base on overruns, it is illegal in every other ruleset.
 
Jan 22, 2011
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An umpire who posts here has recommended they remove the lookback rule and do what they do in slow pitch. When the play is obviously over, the umpire calls time, and the runners need to return to the base. I've never looked for the slow-pitch rules citation. That might work, but the LBR is trying to achieve that. However, because some coaches try to gain an advantage of the rule instead of following the intent of a rule, the USA softball rulebook is 174 pages, and the LBR takes most of a page to explain.

Coaches will devise ways to game your suggested rule and some people will be unhappy with the judgment calls umpires make in enforcing your rule.

The rule says the runner must return immediately after stopping, which most umpires take as 1-2 seconds. The OP never mentioned the score of the game. It could have been a lopsided game where the umpires sought a way to get an out. I did an HS game this spring that most 12u teams would have beaten either team where the first inning lasted 57 minutes. One of the outs was interpreting "immediately" as less than a second, and another was the 1B coach having his player walk off the base.

It mostly gets better once the girls are 12u, but some travel organizations successfully take advantage of the LBR rule to get in their opponents' heads and make mistakes even at the 16u/18u PGF level.

There is no requirement to run, but I would be careful of moving slow enough that the umpire judges the runner to have paused or hesitated. Sometimes with less than 2 outs and a runner on 3rd, the runner-batter on a walk will jog slowly to 2nd to try to draw a throw to score the runner on 3rd.


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Last edited:
Apr 14, 2022
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No, I'd say that if you haven't advanced, _and stop trying to advance_, then you can't advance. The pitcher has the ball, steps on the rubber (or whatever cue you want for "end" of the play) the runner has to return to second base. If they don't by the time the pitch is thrown, they're out for leaving early.
So if the runner advances to the next base are they out? How long do they have to commit? Pitcher cannot pitch until batter is in the box, and throwing to a base is probably illegal pitch. If runner is 5’ from next base can continue or must retreat?

This is essentially the look back rule just replacing circle with rubber.

I do like eliminating subjective, but in any rule that forces runners back you need to allow continuation, and runner to have time to read the play.
 
Jun 18, 2023
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So if the runner advances to the next base are they out? How long do they have to commit? Pitcher cannot pitch until batter is in the box, and throwing to a base is probably illegal pitch. If runner is 5’ from next base can continue or must retreat?

If they're running to third and the defense chooses to get the ball back to the pitcher, runner simply continues to third. If they stop running, they have to go back. Until the next pitch unless the defense chooses to try to make a play on another runner. So no taking three steps off while the SS throws back to P P. You're done. you got your chance to advance, and you chose a base.

I guess you could try to quick pitch, but like you said, the batter has to be in the box. It seems almost impossible a runner could be going between bases and not get there before a pitcher could receive the ball, get set, batter in box, and deliver a pitch. UNLESS they're leading before the pitch. And that's a violating.

This is essentially the look back rule just replacing circle with rubber.

whichever you want to use. I don't have issues with that being the "end of play" cue, it's what happens to the baserunner at that point. You could even default to the "more than halfway, go to the next base" thing. It seems like the intent is to prevent between base shenanigans between pitches/plays but introduces all this subjective decision making stuff that invites shenanigans.

I do like eliminating subjective, but in any rule that forces runners back you need to allow continuation, and runner to have time to read the play.

runner can keep running. If they've decided they're going to make it. What I'm trying to understand is why we need the ball to be live between plays since you're not allowed to lead until the pitcher releases the next pitch. Once no offensive players are moving, and no defensive players are trying to make plays, does the ball even need to be live? Or does that player?
 
Jun 8, 2023
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I've read every post and unless I missed something, no one has called this "Coach's OBSTRUCTION". Illegal calling of time is a form of verbal obstruction. This play cannot be called 'Interference', since to have that you must have an immediate dead ball and an out. In this case of verbal obstruction, we have a delayed dead ball and the runner can advance or retreat while the play is still going on. For the play presented, the correct call would have been to signal delayed dead ball and protect the runner between the bases where the obstruction occurred (1st & 2nd). Obviously, the umpires erred and either didn't know the rule or were too stubborn to admit their error. I would have thought one of the responders would have gotten this play right.
 
Dec 15, 2018
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I've read every post and unless I missed something, no one has called this "Coach's OBSTRUCTION". Illegal calling of time is a form of verbal obstruction. This play cannot be called 'Interference', since to have that you must have an immediate dead ball and an out. In this case of verbal obstruction, we have a delayed dead ball and the runner can advance or retreat while the play is still going on. For the play presented, the correct call would have been to signal delayed dead ball and protect the runner between the bases where the obstruction occurred (1st & 2nd). Obviously, the umpires erred and either didn't know the rule or were too stubborn to admit their error. I would have thought one of the responders would have gotten this play right.

USA defines obstruction as the act of a defensive team member that hinders a runner (which would include a coach) - but then always in every other reference only mentions fielder actions, and in an old case play even dismisses the notion of bench obstruction by saying offensive players should know their coach's voice (the play is a bench yelling "go" before a caught fly ball). This all contradicts of course the notion that USA accepts the notion of interference from the bench.

USSSA does define obstruction as including verbal "The act may be intentional or unintentional, physical or verbal."

I think USA needs to be cleaned up, and it should make an explicit reference to verbal obstruction to handle this. You'd probably be justified in calling it, but it's not as clean as USSSA.
 

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