Kickball Rules Can Differ - Depending Upon Who Is Playing
Kickball rules for members of teams sanctioned by The World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA) are somewhat lengthy, though not really more so than the rules for softball. In fact the rules for kickball are many instances the same as the rules for softball. Rather than go into great detail here, we'll summarize the rules noting where they markedly differ from softball rules.
Kickball rules for a team of grade schoolers or a sand lot team can be quite flexible. Again, rules similar to softball apply, but the whole point is to have fun, and bending the rules on occasion is often the norm. For example, instead of having a fixed number of players in the field on defense, there may be as many players as space will allow, so that everyone can get a change to participate. In adult (WAKA) kickball, a team on the field can be a maximum of 11 players or a minimum of 8. All players kick in a prescribed order, but may change fielding positions at any time.
Usually a softball diamond is the best choice for the playing area; otherwise a kickball diamond is laid out with dimensions equaling those of a softball diamond as closely as possible. The kickball itself is a basketball sized rubber ball, red in color if a WAKA game, any color you choose if an informal game. The ball is thrown by the pitcher towards home plate. About the only rules for pitching are that the ball must be thrown underarm, and as it rolls or bounces towards the plate it must not bounce higher than one foot upon reaching the plate. The pitcher can use any form for delivery he or she wishes. With a basketball-sized ball, the choices are somewhat limited.
The kicker (in softball it would be the batter), will then attempt to kick the ball past the fielders, and advance to first base, or further if possible. If the ball passes through the strike zone and is not kicked, it is a strike. The strike zone is one foot to either side of home plate, and one foot above the ground over the plate. If the ball is thrown or bounces higher than one foot above the plate it is a ball. If the ball is kicked at and missed it is a strike. Three strikes and the kicker is out. Four balls and the kicker advances to first base. A ball hit foul does not count as a strike, but if you kick four foul balls you are called out.
Stolen bases are not allowed in kickball and, as in the case with softball, if you are a runner, your foot must be on the base until a fielder touches the ball or you will be called out. When running to any base, including first base, you are out if the infielder catches the ball and touches the base before you get there. You can also be tagged out, which consists of being hit by a ball that is thrown at you. The ball must hit you below the shoulders or you will be declared safe and allowed to take an extra base. However, if you are ducking to try to avoid the ball and it hits you above the shoulders you will be called out. If the ball is thrown at you and misses you, you can attempt to take an extra base if you wish, but only one. This is referred to as an overthrow.
Like in softball, if you hit the ball in the air and it is caught, you are out. There are three outs per side to each inning, and most kickball games go 7 innings. For youngsters, games are sometimes limited to 5 innings. For sandlot games, play can continue until it gets too dark to kick the ball. A regulation kickball game does not go extra innings, so can end in a tie. Also, in a regulation game, the maximum number of runs that can be scored in any one inning, except the last inning, is 9.
As far as base running is concerned, rules for interference are much the same as in softball. A fielder cannot interfere with a base runner attempting to advance and a base runner cannot interfere with a fielder trying to catch or field the ball. One of the more unusual kickball rules is the presence of an additional first base. This "second" first base is placed near the regular first base, and the first baseman can tag the extra base for an out, avoiding a possible collision with the kicker coming down the line from home plate. It is generally the responsibility of the runner to avoid collisions.
However you may wish to follow the kickball rules, and however many or few people are available for a game, you can still have a great time playing a little kickball now and then.