Of the hundreds of select youth baseball games we host each year, interference is a rule that comes up at least once during most games. It’s also the most commonly misunderstood rule in all of youth baseball, and along with several other essential rules is an important one to be familiar with.

To understand how interference works in youth baseball (based on the NFHS rulebook), we’ll go over the general definition, the different types of interference, and what the penalties are when interference is called. Once you know this key information, you and your players can be sure to have a better understanding of how to avoid it and guarantee a fun, safe, and fair ball game.

What is Interference?

Interference is any act, verbal or physical, by the team at bat that impedes, hinders, or confuses a defensive fielder attempting to make a play.

 This is a common occurrence in many youth baseball games, though it’s often done by accident. However, it’s still considered interference whether it was accidental or intentional. It’s also important to note that fans and coaches can be guilty of it as well as players. The most common scenarios when it comes to interference involve baserunners getting in the way of a fielder trying to make a play.

Interference should not be confused with obstruction, as they are two different things. Interference involves an offensive player getting in the way of a defensive player actively making a play, whereas obstruction is when a defensive player who is not in possession of the ball gets in the way of an offensive player.

It’s important to know the difference between interference and obstruction because it will determine which team receives a penalty. Knowing how to differentiate interference from obstruction can help coaches communicate with their players and the umpires to determine the correct call.

The easiest way to remember the difference between interference and obstruction is interference is a penalty on the offensive team, and obstruction is a penalty on the defensive team.

What are the Different Types of Interference?

There are many different possible scenarios involving interference in youth baseball, which is part of the reason why it’s often confusing for players, coaches, and spectators. This is true even for people who have been involved with baseball for a long time.

Now let’s go over the different types of interference and some examples so it’s easier to understand.

Interference can fall under one of four general categories:

1. Offensive (the most common)

Offensive interference represents the general definition of interference and is also the most common type. Any time the team at bat impedes, hinders, or confuses a defensive player making a play, which can be intentional or accidental, and verbal or physical, it would be considered interference. Most often this involves a baserunner interfering in some way with a fielder who is actively trying to make a play.

Examples of offensive interference include:

  • A runner who moves off his base to impede a fielder from catching a fly ball.
  • A batter-runner who hinders the catcher’s throw to first base because he is not running within the three-foot running lane.
  • A runner who does not avoid a fielder in the immediate act of making a play.
  • A runner who initiates malicious contact with a fielder attempting to make a play.
  • A runner who intentionally gets in the way of a throw.
  • A runner who is hit by the ball before it touched or passed a fielder.

2. Umpire

Although uncommon, there may be situations where interference is caused by the umpire. Examples include:

  • The field umpire is hit by a fair batted ball before it touches or passes a defensive player other than the pitcher.
  • Either umpire interferes with a catcher’s throw to prevent a stolen base.

3. Spectator

A spectator can interfere if they enter the field of play and disrupt the game. This is often grounds for ejection but is obviously the most avoidable type of interference.

4. Catcher

If the catcher impedes the swing of the batter, this can also be considered interference.

What is the Penalty for Interference?

For the most part, the so-called “penalties” for interference are at the discretion of the umpires. Now that we know what interference is and some common situations where it comes into play, let’s review what often happens as a result of interference.

On all interference, the ball is considered dead and runners may not advance unless forced to advance by the batter becoming a runner. If the batter has already reached first base, then the other runners may advance only to the last base obtained at the time of interference.

In most situations when a runner interferes with a fielder who is trying to make a play, he is called out. If it’s obvious that a runner used intentional and malicious contact to interfere, he will also be ejected from the game.

Catcher interference can be a delayed dead ball if the batter hits the pitch. In that event, the offensive coach has the option to take the play.


Baseball is a technical game with a lot of rules, many of which are often difficult to understand even for people with years of exposure to the sport. Interference is one of those rules that’s fairly common, but also often misunderstood. For everyone involved to have the most enjoyable experience possible, it helps to have a breakdown of how this rule works and the different situations that cause it.

Interference is arguably one of the most important rules in youth baseball because without properly recognizing it, it can lead to unfair and unsafe play. It can also encourage unsportsmanlike behavior if not addressed, so players, coaches, and fans must understand its importance and what to look out for.

This information is provided by Kings Sports, a company focused on youth baseball for the past 20 years. We manage tournaments and local leagues in the greater Cincinnati area, along with individual player opportunities to participate in events in Georgia, Florida, and many other locations. To learn more, visit playksports.com