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“Hustle, Hustle, Hustle! “
That’s what we tell the kids. Of course, when they are excited – they run fast. When they are not.. well, they don’t. But during Little League games, each team has only 60 seconds to get on the field and throw the first pitch of the inning? That is NOT a lot of time. So.. let’s explore it.
First, what is the rule? Well, the pitcher is allowed 8 warm up pitches in a total time “not to exceed 1 minute.” This is not a choice… Not EITHER 8 pitches OR 1 minute… nope – when either 1 minute is over OR 8 pitches are thrown, than that is it…Also, all that between innings stuff (i.e., defensive huddles, infielders warm ups, or a throw to 2nd) are bonuses. Not ‘must-haves’. The pitcher has 60 seconds to throw up to 8 warm-up pitches. That’s it!
When does the clock start.: An inning ends when the 3rd out is made, thus the clock begins the INSTANT the 3rd out is made. So we all need to hustle the kids!
So why is this rule in place?
Mainly for pace of play. Same as the pros, Little League is always looking for ways to keep the game moving along. This year in Major League Baseball, they have looked at implementing the “no-pitch intentional walk” and toyed with the idea of tweaking extra inning rules.
At your next youth game, look how long it takes between innings. Sometimes 3-, 4-, even 5-minutes per half-inning elapse. Over a 6-inning game, that means more than 30 excess minutes of ‘not-playing’ time. And if a time-restricted game (i.e., because of divisional time limits or the setting sun), lack of hustle increases the chance a game will not be complete or even official!!
But the main reason? It is simply more fun to PLAY!
But Coach Wants More Time
Don’t we all! But, game time is not only practice time. So, here’s some helpful tips to make sure we effectively utilize the one minute between innings:
- Catcher isn’t ready… Send a bench player out with a mask and catcher’s glove to warm-up the pitcher. Never an adult!!! Or, have the pitcher warm-up with the 3rd baseman. If no players are ready, teach pitchers to warm up by going through the pitching motion without the ball.
- Catcher was on base… Help the catcher dress by putting on shin guards, provide water, or simply help the catcher as needed.
- Defensive Huddle … If a coach wants a defensive huddle (i.e., “Great job! Hold the lead out there,”) send the pitcher and catcher out alone to warm up.
- Bad Warm-up Habits … If the pitcher has bad habit (i.e. exaggerated pitching motion or ‘taking signs’ during warm ups) have the pitcher warm up OFF the rubber with the catcher standing.
There you go, four tips to stay within the rules and get back to far more entertaining game play.
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The Inside Pitch
Some leagues actually issue a stopwatch to the game’s umpire to monitor in between inning time.
But did you know…in the pros, the 2nd base umpire is the keeper of the time? They have a little over 2 minutes for commercials. At the next game, you might catch him pull out a stop watch as soon as the 3rd out is made!