Home Return to the UmpireBible



Rule 3 - Substituting – Coaching – Bench & Field Conduct – Charged Conferences


3-1-1   After the lineup cards are official (1-1-2), the player listed as pitcher shall pitch until the first opposing batter has been put out or has advanced to first base. In any other case, a substitute may replace a player of his team when the ball is dead and time has been called. The umpire-in-chief shall record any reported substitutions on the lineup card and then announce immediately any change(s) to the opposing team. Projected substitutions are not allowed. In each of the following situations, the ball is declared live by the umpire-in-chief. Should there be no announcement of substitutions, a substitute has entered the game when the ball is live and:

  1. a runner takes the place of a runner who has been replaced;
  2. a pitcher takes a position on the pitcher’s plate;
  3. a fielder reaches the position usually occupied by the fielder who has been replaced; or
  4. a batter takes a position in the batter’s box.

PENALTY: If the starting pitcher does not face one batter, he may play another position, but not return to pitch.

For discovery of an illegal player (2-36-3) on offense by an umpire or either team, that player shall be called out and restricted to the bench/dugout for the duration of the game. An illegal player discovered on defense shall be restricted to the bench/dugout for the duration of the game. If a restricted player re-enters the game on offense, he shall be called out immediately and ejected upon discovery by an umpire or either team. if a restricted player re-enters on defense, the player shall be ejected upon discovery by an umpire or either team.

The penalty for illegal substitution shall supersede the penalty for batting out of order.

If the illegal substitute should score a run, advance or cause a play to be made that allows another runner(s) to advance, discovery must be made by an umpire or either team before the first pitch to the next batter of either team. This would invalidate the action of the illegal offensive substitute. Any out(s) made on the play stands and all other runners return to the base(s) occupied at the time of the pitch.

In a game-ending situation, discovery must be made before all infielders leave the diamond (i.e., all infielders cross the foul lines).

An illegal substitute on defense shall be replaced immediately upon discovery by the umpire or either team. If an illegal player on defense is involved in a play, and the infraction is discovered by an umpire or either team prior to the first pitch to the next batter of either team, the team on offense has the option to let the play stand or to allow the batter to bat again.

Any player who is substituted for by an illegal substitute may re-enter only if the player is eligible to do so under the re-entry rule (3-1-3).

3-1-2   If a pitcher is replaced while his team is on defense, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute for that batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until a third out has been made. To ensure that the requirements of this article be fulfilled, the umpire will deny any coach-defensive player conference that will violate the rule. If a pitcher is incapacitated or guilty of flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct, this rule is ignored. A player may be removed as pitcher and returned as pitcher only once per inning, provided the return as pitcher does not violate either the pitching, substitution or charged conference rule. If the pitcher, because of an injury or being incapacitated, is replaced as pitcher and the above rule is not satisfied, or if his replacement requires more warm-up throws than permitted in 6-2-2 Exception, he cannot return to the game as a pitcher.

3-1-3   Any of the starting players may be withdrawn and re-entered once, including a player who was the designated hitter, provided such player occupies the same batting position whenever he is in the lineup. The pitcher is governed by the provisions of Article 3-1-2 above. A substitute who is withdrawn may not re-enter. A starting pitcher who is replaced in the top of the first inning while his team is at bat shall be governed by the provisions of Articles 3-1-1 and 3-1-2 above.

3-1-4   A hitter may be (not mandatory) designated for any one starting player (not just pitchers) and all subsequent substitutes for that player in the game. A designated hitter for said player shall be selected prior to the start of the game, and his name shall be included on the lineup cards presented to the umpire-in-chief and to the official scorer. A team forfeits the use of a designated hitter if it fails to declare a designated hitter prior to the game. If a pinch hitter or pinch runner for the designated hitter is used, that player becomes the new designated hitter. The player who was the designated hitter may re-enter as the designated hitter under the re-entry rule. A designated hitter and the player for whom he is batting are locked into the batting order. No multiple substitutions may be made that will alter the batting rotation. A designated hitter may be used in one of the two scenarios:

  1. The designated hitter may be a 10th starter hitting for any one of the nine starting defensive players. If the designated hitter (DH) is used in this manner, the role of the DH is terminated for the remainder of the game when:
    1. The defensive player, or any previous defensive player for whom the designated hitter batted, subsequently bats, pinch-hits, or pinch-runs for the designated hitter; or
    2. The designated hitter or any previous designated hitter assumes a defensive position.
  2. The starting designated hitter may be any one of the stating defensive players. In this manner, the starting defensive player has two positions: the defensive player and the designated hitter. The role of the defensive player may be substituted for by any legal substitute. If the defensive player has been substituted for, the original player/DH may re-enter one time. The role of the DH is terminated for the remainder of the game when:
    1. A substitute or former substitute for the defensive role subsequently participates in an offensive role; or
    2. The starting defensive player/DH is substituted for either as a hitter or a runner.

3-1-5   Any player who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion (such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion or balance problems) shall be immediately removed from the game and shall not return to play until cleared by an appropriate health-care professional. (See NFHS Suggested Guidelines for Management of Concussions)

3-1-6   A player or coach who is bleeding or who has an open wound shall be prohibited from participating further in the game until appropriate treatment has been administered. If medical care or treatment can be administered in a reasonable amount of time, the individual would not have to leave the game. The length of time that is considered reasonable is umpire judgment. The re-entry rule applies to starters. If there is an excessive amount of blood on the uniform, it shall be changed before that individual participates again. (See Communicable Disease Procedures)

Section 2 - COACHING

3-2-1   One player or coach may occupy each coach’s box while his team is at bat. A coach who is not in the uniform of the team shall be restricted to the bench/dugout. However, a coach may leave the bench/dugout to attend to a player who becomes ill or injured. He may address base runners or the batter. Coaches may wear prostheses and use mobility devices. Any member of the team at bat, who has not been ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct, may occupy a coach’s box.

3-2-2   No coach shall physically assist a runner during playing action.

PENALTY: The runner shall be called out immediately. [ed. note: But the ball remains live and action continues.]

3-2-3   No offensive team personnel, other than the base coach, shall be near a base for which a runner is trying so that a fielder may be confused; nor be on or near the baseline in such a way as to draw a throw; nor shall the base coach or members of the team at bat fail to vacate any area needed by a fielder in his attempt to put out a batter or runner.

If a thrown live ball unintentionally touches a base coach in foul territory, or a pitched or thrown ball touches an umpire, the ball is live and in play. If the coach is judged by the umpire to have interfered intentionally with the thrown ball, or interferes in fair territory, the interference penalty is invoked.

PENALTY: The ball is dead immediately and the runner is out. The batter-runner or runner may be out as in 7-4-1f and 8-4-2g. Other runners return as in 8-2-8.

3-2-4   The head coach must attend the pregame conference, if available. PENALTY: The head coach will be restricted to the dugout for the remainder of the game, except to attend to a sick or injured player, if he refuses to attend the pregame conference.


3-3-1   A coach, player, substitute, attendant or other bench personnel shall not:

  1. leave the dugout during a live ball for an unauthorized purpose;
  2. fake a tag without the ball;
  3. carelessly throw a bat;
  4. wear bandannas;
  5. hit the ball to players on defense after the game has started;

    PENALTY: At the end of playing action, the umpire shall issue a warning to the coach of the team involved and the next offender on that team shall be ejected, except for (f), where the coach shall be ejected. In (b), it is also obstruction (8-3-2).

  6. commit any unsportsmanlike act to include, but not limited to,
    1. use of words or actions to incite or attempt to incite spectators demonstrations,
    2. use of profanity, intimidation tactics, remarks reflecting unfavorably upon any other person, or taunting or baiting. The NFHS disapproves of any form of taunting.
    3. use of any language intended to intimidate,
    4. behavior in any manner not in accordance with the spirit of fair play;
    5. being in live ball territory (excluding team's bullpen area) during the opponent's infield practice prior to the start of the game.
    6. any member of the coaching staff who was not the head coach (or designee) in 3-2-4 leaves the vicinity of the dugout or coaching box to dispute a judgment call by an umpire.
    7. Confronting or directing unsportsmanlike conduct to the umpires after the game has concluded and until the umpires have departed the game site.
  7. enter the area behind the catcher while the opposing pitcher and catcher are in their positions;
  8. use of any object in the coach's box other than a stopwatch, rule book (hard copy), scorebook;
  9. be outside the designated dugout (bench) or bullpen area if not a batter, runner, on-deck batter, in the coach’s box or one of the nine players on defense;
  10. charge an umpire;
  11. use amplifiers or bullhorns for coaching purposes during the course of the game;

    PENALTY: The umpire shall warn the offender unless the offense is judged to be major, in which case an ejection shall occur. A warning may be verbal or written. If written, the offender shall be restricted to the bench/dugout for the remainder of the game. If a coach has previously received a verbal warning, he shal receive a written warning (10-2-3j) and be restricted to the bench/dugout for the remainder of the game. If a coach has previously received a written warning, he shall be ejected for any subsequent offense. Any offense judged to be major in nature shall result in an immediate ejection.

    For coaches who violate f(1-5), g, h, i, j, or k, the umpire may (1) issue a verbal warning to the offender, (2) issue a written warning to the offender (any offender receiving a written warning shall be restricted to the bench/dugout for the remainder of the game, or (3)eject the offender for a major offense. For violation of f(6), both the head coach and the offending coach shall receive a written warning and be restricted to the dugout for the remainder of the game unless the offense is so severe the umpire may eject the offender and restrict or eject the head coach. A coach may leave the bench/dugout to attend to a player who becomes ill or injured. In f(7), the state association shall determine appropriate action.

  12. deliberately throw a bat, helmet, etc.;
  13. initiate malicious contact on offense or defense;
  14. call "Time" or use any command or commit any act for the purpose of causing a balk; or
  15. use tobacco or tobacco-like products within the confines of the field;
  16. leave their positions or bench area for the purpose of fighting or physical confrontation.
  17. have physical contact, spit, kick diret or engage in any other physical action directed toward an umpire.

    PENALTY: The umpire shall eject the offender from the game. Failure to comply shall result in game being forfeited. In (m), the ball is immediately dead, if on offense, the player is ejected and declared out, unless he has already scored. If the defense commits the malicious contact, the player is ejected; the umpire shall rule either safe or out on the play and award the runner(s) the appropriate base(s) he felt they would have obtained if the malicious contact had not occurred. In (p), a coach who attempts to prevent a fight or restore order is not in violation of the rule.

3-3-2   A coach who is ejected shall leave the vicinity of the playing area immediately and is prohibited from further contact, direct or indirect, with the team during the remainder of the game. He may return when requested to attend to an ill or injured player.

3-3-3   Players loosening up to bat shall remain in the area of their team’s on-deck circle while the pitcher is warming up (1-2-3).

PENALTY: The umpire shall issue a team warning to the coach of the team involved. The next offender on that team shall be ejected.

3-3-4   Whenever team members are loosening up in an area which is not protected by a fence or other structure, another member of the team with a glove must be positioned between them and the batter to protect them from a batted or thrown ball within the confines of the playing field. No one is to interfere with a live ball.


3-4-1   Each team, when on defense, may be granted not more than three charged conferences during a seven-inning game, without penalty, to permit coaches or their non-playing representatives to confer with a defensive player or players. In an extra inning game, each team shall be permitted one charged conference each inning while on defense without penalty. The number of charged conferences permitted is not cumulative. A request for time for this purpose shall be made by a coach, player, substitute or an attendant. Time granted for an obviously incapacitated player shall not constitute a charged conference. Prior to accumulating three charged conferences in seven innings or less, a conference is not charged if the pitcher is removed as pitcher.

PENALTY: After three charged conferences in a seven-inning game, or for any charged conference in excess of one in each extra inning, the pitcher shall be removed as pitcher for duration of the game.

3-4-2   Each team, when on offense, may be granted not more than one charged conference per inning to permit the coach or any of that team’s personnel to confer with base runners, the batter, the on-deck batter or other offensive team personnel. The umpire shall deny any subsequent offensive team requests for charged conferences.

3-4-3   A defensive charged conference is concluded when the coach or non-playing representative crosses the foul line if the conference was in fair territory. If the conference was in foul territory, the conference concludes when the coach or non-playing representative initially starts to return to the dugout/bench area.

3-4-4   An offensive charged conference is concluded when the coach or team representative initially starts to return to the coach’s box or dugout/bench area. For Articles 3-4-3 and 3-4-4, if a coach who has been restricted to the dugout/bench area is involved in a charged conference, that conference shall end when the players involved initially start to return to their positions on the field. The coach shall be given a reasonable amount of time for the charged conference as determined by the umpire-in-chief.

3-4-5   When either team has a charged conference, the other team may also have a conference, which is not charged, provided the conference concludes when the opposing team’s charged conference concludes, so that the game is not further delayed.



2020 NFHS Baseball Rules

Table of Contents

NFHS Rule Changes 2020

Rule 1 - Players, Field & Equipment

Rule 2 - Playing Terms & Definitions

Rule 3 - Substituting, Coaching, etc.

Rule 4 - Starting & Ending the Game

Rule 5 - Dead Ball – Suspension of Play

Rule 6 - Pitching

Rule 7 - Batting

Rule 8 - Base Running

Rule 9 - Scoring – Record Keeping

Rule 10 - Umpiring

Appendices to the Rules

INDEX to the NFHS/FED Rules

[ Version 5.0, February 2020 ]
Feedback & Comments to NickG@UmpireBible.com