NFHS Announces Two Important Baseball Rule Changes; New Rules in Track and Field and Softball

CONTACT:
Marty Maciaszek
, NSGA Director of Team Dealer Division
mmaciaszek@nsga.org
(847) 296-NSGA (6742), ext. 1260

Two important baseball equipment rule changes regarding baseballs and chest protectors were announced by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

Starting Jan. 1, 2019, all baseballs used in high school competition shall meet the NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) standard at the time of manufacture. The revision of Rule 1-3-1 was recommended by the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee and approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“We are excited that our membership will now have equipment that meets a standard that is consistent across the country,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and staff liaison for baseball. “We are comfortable knowing that all baseballs for high school play will be the same size, same weight and have similar playability.”

The committee also revised Rule 1-5-3, which will require the catcher to wear a chest protector that meets the NOCSAE standard at the time of manufacture, effective Jan. 1, 2020. The NOCSAE standard has been developed to protect the heart and the cardiac silhouette from commotio cordis, which is one of the leading causes of sudden cardiac death in young athletes in baseball and lacrosse. The 2020 date was chosen to give manufacturers enough time to produce enough available product.

“Being aware that a standard exists to protect players, this decision was easy to make,” Hopkins said. “When our catchers wear this chest protector, we are confident that the best protection for their heart is constructed into this equipment.”

The Baseball Rules Committee also modified Rule 1-3-2a2 regarding the components of a bat. The modified language states that bats “not have exposed rivets, pins, rough or sharp edges or any form of exterior fastener or attachment(s) that would present a potential hazard.”

Softball

Equipment no longer has to be inspected by the umpire or placed outside the dugout/bench prior to the start of the game. The NFHS Softball Rules Committee agreed the responsibility for ensuring players are legally and properly equipped rests with the head coach and school administration.

“Umpires must remain vigilant in identifying illegal or altered equipment throughout the course of the game, and equipment violation penalties will continue to be assessed when discovered,” said Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and staff liaison for softball. “However, it is the head coach’s responsibility to verify that his or her players’ equipment is legal.” 

The committee also approved an exception to Rule 3-2-7c which defines wristbands with a playbook/playcard attached as equipment. The wristband shall be a single solid color other than optic yellow.

Track and Field/Cross Country

All uniforms worn in track and field/cross country must be either issued or approved by the school in a revision of Rule 4-3-1.

The NFHS Track and Field Rules Committee also revised Rule 6-5-11, establishing the nonmetal crossbar in the pole vault shall not be less than 14 feet, 8 inches or more than 14 feet, 10 inches in length. The revision provides consistency in establishing a range for length of the pole vault crossbar, similar to the high jump.

Language in Rule 8-6-1 regarding track and field uniforms was eliminated and replaced with “Each competitor’s uniform shall meet requirements and restrictions as presented in Rules 4-3-1 and 4-3-2, Competitor’s Uniform in Track and Field and Cross Country.” The change was made to eliminate duplicate language in the two separate sections.