Similar to interference, obstruction is another rule in youth baseball that’s relatively common but at the same time misunderstood by many players, coaches, and spectators. Obstruction is one of the most important youth baseball rules to have a better understanding of the game, which will always result in a more enjoyable and fair playing environment.

Understanding obstruction can also prevent injuries, as many situations where obstruction occurs involve players coming into physical contact with one another.

Let’s go over how obstruction is defined, some examples, and the resulting penalties for an obstruction call. We used the NFHS rulebook as a reference to compile this information so it’s consistent with our select youth baseball tournaments and many other leagues across the country.

What is Obstruction?

Obstruction is any act – accidental, intentional, verbal, or physical by any fielder or member of the defensive team that hinders a runner or affects the pattern of play.

The most common situations where obstruction occurs are when a fielder without possession of the ball gets in the way of the runner, which is most often accidental. However, it does not have to be intentional to be considered obstruction.

Obstruction is often confused with interference and vice versa, but they are in fact two different things. While interference involves an offensive player impeding a defensive player trying to make a play, obstruction is when a defensive player without possession of the ball hinders a runner.

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

What are Some Examples of Obstruction?

Many situations where obstruction occurs are the result of a defensive fielder without possession of the ball impeding a runner’s ability to reach a base. Contact is not required for an obstruction, but many obstruction calls involve some sort of physical contact between the fielder and the runner.

A fielder who has possession of the ball and blocks the base from the runner is NOT obstructing. A fielder who has possession is allowed to position himself to deny the runner access to the base. If a fielder does the same thing but does not have possession of the ball, then it would be considered obstruction.

Another example of obstruction would be if the catcher does anything to obstruct or impede the batter. Obstruction can also be any malicious contact by a member of the defensive team to a member of the offensive team, which would result in that player being ejected from the game.

Lastly, players are not the only ones who can be guilty of obstruction. Any situation where a coach, umpire, or spectator impedes or hinders normal play for the offensive team would be an obstruction.

What is the Penalty for Obstruction?

The penalty for obstruction falls on the defensive team, which is strictly at the umpire’s discretion.

In an obstruction scenario, the umpire shall make the call, which results in a delayed dead ball. If obstruction occurs, the runner is awarded the base they would have reached otherwise, in the umpire’s opinion. If the runner reaches the base they were going for anyway, the obstruction is ignored, and the runner will remain on the base they achieved.

If a defensive player is seen to intentionally obstruct an offensive player using malicious contact, he will be ejected from the game.

Ultimately, the umpires will use their best judgment to determine the appropriate result after an obstruction.


Among the many rules involved in youth baseball, obstruction is one in particular that everyone should be familiar with. As a sportsmanship-centered rule at its core, identifying instances of obstruction will ensure respectable baseball and a safer playing environment.

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