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Developmental League Rules (4-5 year olds)

Coaching Principles

The following are principles specific to coaches and assistants to make the league more successful.
Safety:  Safety rules come first.  Enforce the league safety rules strictly.
Fun:  Baseball is a game.  Make sure it stays fun!
Sportsmanship:  Encourage players to put their best effort into improving their game regardless of the situation or score.  Encourage players to recognize and respect the fact that this is a learning environment - everyone is working to improve some aspect of their skills.
 Development:  Review the basic skills and fundamentals of baseball.  Encourage children to practice them on their own.  Congratulate good performance to promote a sense of accomplishment.  Objectively correct mistakes by referencing back to and reinforcing fundamental skills.  Keep it simple.
Preparation:  Keep the games interesting and moving at a good pace by being prepared.  Examples:  Have a defensive plan ready for each game and each inning, make sure your players are ready to bat on offense, keep track of who your catcher will be and make sure they are dressed and ready for the following inning.
Motivation:  Motivate players through positive reinforcement.  Keep practices and games moving and active in order to maintain players’ attention.  Ask players what they are going to do in certain potential situations to keep their minds in the game.
Unique Talents:  Baseball is a unique sport.  It draws on a wide variety of physical and mental skills of the players.  Every player has unique talents that can be improved through instruction and individual attention.
Role Model:  Portray the behaviors you’re trying to develop at all times.


  • 3 innings.  If the game is under 1 hour, the coaches can mutually agree to have a 4th inning.
  • One complete turn around the batting order or 3 outs – whatever comes first.  Unlike traditional T-ball 6, if a team is able to record 3 outs, the inning ends even if the other team has not batted all the way around.  The last batter no longer hits a “home run”.  To increase excitement and keep kids on the field to complete the play (vs. blind collisions that happen otherwise when the last batter makes his way around the bases), real baseball rules on the last batter.  In other words, they can run on overthrows, there is no automatic stoppage of play, etc.  The defense must act to stop or get the last batter out.  This must be communicated to all the kids that it is the last batter and the “big league rules” are in effect.
  • Score will not be kept.

Game Balls and game equipment

  • Each team should supply 1 new RIM game ball for usage.  Use the newer balls whenever possible. 
  • Home team is responsible for supplying the T for that game.
  • Both teams are responsible for raking the field and returning equipment after the game.  Only leave equipment on the field if there is a game following you and the home team coach of the following game agrees to take care of the equipment.


  • 60 foot base paths


  • The league starts on the T only. 4 games into the season, teams can agree to transition to coach pitch.  If there is a player truly struggling that prefers the T, he can stick with the T for the duration of the season.

Hitting rules

  • Coach pitch has a 5 strike limit. If a player fouls a 5th pitch or later, he gets more until he hits or “strikes” out.  If a player “strikes” out, he will hit off the T.  The strike-out will not be considered an out.
  • A fair ball is a ball hit between the 1st and 3rd base line at least 15 feet from home plate.  A ball that does not travel 15 feet or more between the baselines is considered a foul ball, base runners return to their base, and the batter continues batting.  No bunting.
  • If the pitcher (coach) interferes with a ground ball it will be a dead-ball base hit at the discretion of the coach.  The coach can also ask for a Mulligan and allow the hitter to hit again.  The principle is to avoid infielders charging a ground ball near the coach and risking injury.  Runners advance one base only in this circumstance.
  • When a coach is pitching, he can adjust his batters in the box. But he cannot interact with the hitter during active play.  Base coaches should guide kids around bases.

Base running

  • It is not station to station. If a player hits a double, he’s allowed to take a double.
  • Play ends when the outfield returns the ball to the infield. It need not be in control of an infielder – simply returned to the infield.
  • Players can’t advance on overthrows.
  • There is no leading off or stealing bases.  Base runners must stay in contact with the base they occupy until a ball is struck by the batter.


  • Players must make a throw to record an out unless they are the closest player to the bag. For example, a shortstop fielding the ball with a force play at third must throw to the third baseman to record an out or directly tag the runner. He can’t field the ball and out-run the runner to third.  Failure to follow the principles of the correct baseball play will result in the runner being called safe.
  • For force plays at 2nd, if the shortstop or 2nd baseman fields the ball within 5 running steps of the base, they can run to the base. If they are further than that, they must throw the ball to the defensive player on 2nd base.

Recording outs

  • The hitting team’s coaches will act as umpires and declare runners out or safe.  When a runner is out he will be removed from the bases.  Multiple outs on a single play are allowed.  In general, on bang-bang plays, the coaches should give the benefit of the doubt to the fielders to reward effort and good fielding plays. 

Defensive positions

  • The infield will consist of the 7 basic positions: Pitcher, Catcher, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and 2nd base bag.  In other words, there is a person playing the shortstop position and the 2nd base position. To split the difference between the desire for “real” play and the confusion most 6 year olds have with who covers 2nd, there will also be someone playing directly on 2nd base.  So as you look around you will see the 6 traditional infield positions plus a player directly on 2nd base.  There will be only 1 pitcher and he will stand behind the pitcher/batting machine (coach) on either side.  Players 8 and up play the outfield, evenly distributed just off the infield dirt.
  • Outfielders cannot make a force out at a base. All other baseball plays can be made by outfielders.
  • All kids play on the field – no one on the defensive bench.
  • No players are allowed to play more than 1 inning at a given position.
  • Kids must play at least one inning in the infield. Catching does not count as infield.

General coaching rules

  • Head coaches should discuss ground rules prior to any games and mutually agree on how any special situations will be handled (e.g. standing water in the field, players arriving late, etc.)
  • When a coach is pitching he can adjust his batters in the box. But he cannot interact with the hitter or base runners during active play.  Base coaches must do that.
  • One coach is allowed in the field to help position the defense. He is allowed to position players between plays and to tell the kids where the play is. Once play has started, ALL coaches within the field of play must be silent. The kids should already know what to do with the ball. In the case of a multi-base hit, active play coaching must be done from coaches on the sideline.

 Equipment & safety

  • Equipment must be stored in an area out of play, preferably behind the fence, during the game. 
  • During games, bench players must stay in the designated bench area while waiting for their turn to bat.  No one should be practicing hitting, climbing the fence or leaving the field area.  Adult supervision is required in the bench area (a coach or team mom/dad).
  • An area for the on-deck batter should be designated away from the bench, with only the on-deck batter allowed.
  • The batter, on-deck batter, and pitcher must all wear helmets during the game.  The catcher must wear the Victor Little League issued protective gear including helmet, face-mask, chest protectors and shin pads.  Players catching must wear a cup.  But coaches should encourage all parents to have their kids wear cups at games and at practices.
  • Throwing equipment is not allowed.  A player throwing any piece of equipment should be informed that it is against VLL rules.  If the action is repeated by the same player, he can be removed from the game.  At this age it’s common for batters to inadvertently throw a bat after swinging at a ball.  Regardless of intent, this rule needs to be reinforced for safety.


  • Players should wear VLL-issued team jersey, caps, baseball pants and socks.  Caps must be worn forward and shirts must be tucked in during games.  Molded rubber cleats, sneakers or all-purpose shoes are required.