A brief summary of the rules and equipment specifications recommended by the T•BALL USA ASSOCIATION are listed below. Is there more than one way to play? Yes. There are several rule variations and they are marked with an asterisk (*).
RECOMMENDED RULES OF PLAY
- Players’ ages are four to eight.
- Players on a team – 12 minimum, 20 maximum
Note: more than 15 players on the field or batting is not advised.
- 50 feet between the bases.
- A real or imaginary playing line is between first base and third base or an arc 40 feet from home plate.
- Every player bats and plays in the field.
- The ball is hit off a batting tee; there is no pitching.*
- There are no walks or strikeouts.
- The ball must travel 10 feet or it is a foul.
- No fielder may cross the playing line until the ball is hit.
- No stealing. Player stays on the base until the ball is hit.
- An inning is over when all the players have batted once.*
- Standard game is four innings.
- Scores are not kept for the younger players.*
- Safety helmets must be worn.
- Bats – 25″/26″ long. 2¼” diameter, max. 17 to 20 ounces.
- Ball – 9″ to 9½” around; 4 to 5 ounces. Softer than a standard baseball. Molded core or sponge rubber center.
- Gloves – 12″ long, max.
- Tee – adjustable, flexible tube on a moveable base.
- Athletic footwear.
The major differences in play concern winning / losing and what constitutes an inning. As children play to win in other games and view competitive sports on TV, many tee ball leagues sanction scoring and winning for the older and / or more mature players (usually six years and up). This also permits another level of play; specifically, tournaments and other competitive events. Otherwise, tee ball can be positioned as a skill-building, learning experience, where the score is not the focus of the game. Some leagues prefer to consider an inning to be the traditional three outs but the majority of play is “bat around” where an inning is over after every player has batted one time.
COACH-PITCH is a modification of the game usually reserved for older players or for younger players whose batting skills have advanced. A coach (adult or mature teen-ager) throws the ball to the batter. Underhand pitches can be thrown with an arc to reduce speed. Overhand pitches can be thrown from one knee on the ground to put the pitcher at the same level as the batter. If the player is unable to hit the pitched ball after a pre-determined number of throws — usually, four to seven — the ball is placed on a tee and the player’s turn continues. All other rules are the same. T-BALL USA recognizes the benefits provided by coach-pitch and endorses its use; especially, after the youngest of players have gained confidence in the batting situation.
Perhaps the greatest contributing factor to the growth and popularity of the game is that the final decision as to procedure or certain rules is made at the local level, based on the judgment of the administrators as to which format best serves their community program.