What is a balk in baseball? follow to the rulebook it’s an illegal action by thepitcher v arunner or runners on base, entitling every runners to advance one base.

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yet it’s more complex than this, and there space 13 means to balk in baseball, with only a couple of of those gift most common – stopping and starting, not stopping once coming set, and flinching – i beg your pardon we’ll define today in detail.

What does the rule book say around the 13 common ways a pitcher can balk? How have the right to young pitchers find out these rules and prevent embarrassing failure at crucial moments in a game?

As a former pro pitcher, I’m below to to walk you v baseball balk rule and help you know the most crucial ones, so the in a crucial situation you–or your players–won’t make a silly mistake. There room a LOT more ways come balk 보다 you’d think, and some are less renowned than others.

Watch this Demonstration video clip of every the Balk Rules

If you’d rather watch a great, in-depth demonstration video of balk rules, run in below.

And, this updated video with common questions about balk rules from the comment section of mine Youtube channel.

Or, keep analysis as we get to the bottom of what a balk is, and how coaches can help their players prevent them.

Table of materials – jump Ahead to any Section in this Article

Watch this Demonstration video of every the Balk RulesOfficial definition of a Balk:Rule #1: friend can’t begin your pitching motion and stop, or have extra body movementRule #2: friend can’t fake a litter to an initial baseRule #3: if on the rubber, friend can’t throw to a basic without stepping towards itRule #4: you can’t litter or fake a throw to one unoccupied baseRule #5: You must come collection and completely pause in the stretch positionRule #6: girlfriend cannot do a quick-pitchRule #7: friend can’t pitch while not facing the batterRule #8: girlfriend can’t perform component of the pitching activity while no on the rubberRule #9: girlfriend can’t unnecessarily delay the gameRule #10: friend can’t stand on–or straddle–the rubber there is no the ballRule #11: friend can’t separate the hands once in the set positionRule #12: girlfriend can’t drop the round while on the rubberRule #13: The catcher must be in the catcher’s box for a pitchMore associated Pitching Videos & ArticlesFAQ – weird Baseball Balk rules & inquiries Answered

Official meaning of a Balk:

The main baseball rule book defines a balk as:

“an illegal plot by thepitcher with arunner or runners ~ above base, entitling all runners to advancement one base.”

The main baseball rule book

In practicality, the key things come know around the mysterious balk in baseball room the following:

All runners move up one base, including to residence if a runner is top top thirdIf there are no runners on base, a balk is called an “illegal pitch” and also a ball is included to the countIf the pitcher tho delivers the pitch, the batter can–and should–swingThis is since he has actually nothing to shed – if the batter doesn’t gain a basic hit, climate the balk call stands. If that does acquire a base hit and all runners advancement one base, then that batted ball result stands.The catcher can cause a balk by no being in the catchers crate (if there IS a catchers box drawn in chalk, i m sorry there frequently is no in amateur baseball)

As v anything in sports, seeing and also doing is the best method to learn. So, ns encourage girlfriend to examine out this video below the MLB pitchers balking – you’ll watch pitchers starting and stopping, twitching, dropping the ball, separating their hands twice, and other common balks. If you’re not sure what is a balk in baseball, then this will certainly help.

Okay, now that you’ve checked out a couple of examples of balks, let’s get to the rules.

Rule #1: you can’t start your pitching motion and stop, or have extra human body movement

No issue the reason, a pitcher cannot prevent his movement once the begins. This deserve to mean a full-blown pitch is around to be thrown climate the pitcher stop his distribution for some reason.


Or, and also this is much more common, the pitcher subtly beginning his motion yet wasn’t rather ready, and then stops again. This might be a flinch or other subtle movement, and these are often caused by points the pitcher didn’t expect, like a jogger stealing early and/or a fielder yelling at him to carry out something.

Pitchers carry out slip, trip and also fall, yet flinches space the most usual version of stopping and also starting.

Most of the moment a balk is just a tiny flinch or movement.

Again, human body movements and also flinches counting as beginning and stopping. Once the pitcher comes set, he deserve to only relocate his head, and also his activities after agree the sign–as that gets into his collection position–also need to be smooth and also without any kind of erratic movements.

When a pitcher is ~ above the rubber and also has come set, he deserve to only move his human body if it’s component of doing one of three things:

delivering the pitchstepping turn off the rubberpicking off to a base

Any various other body activities when collection that are NOT component of among these three will incur a balk call.


Flinching is typical when the pitcher is around to do something, yet isn’t fully ready, such as after getting a authorize or prepare to throw to first base, or as soon as he watch a runner steal.

Pitchers need to be mentally tough to store their human body relaxed and quiet, so they don’t balk once unexpected things happen.

Body Movements

After agree the pitch (while spring in because that a sign), starting to move to come set, then preventing to acquire a different sign

This one is common – once a pitcher feeling he’s gained the info he requirements – prefer the sign, etc. – then realizes he doesn’t or he missed something, he’ll regularly flinch, start to come collection then stop and go back to spring in because that the sign, etc.

Rule #2: girlfriend can’t fake a throw to very first base

This uses to choose off moves because that righties and also lefties where they do their first-base choose off relocate without stepping off the rubber. You cannot fake to an initial base once you execute this otherwise legal pick off move.

Let me describe the difference.

Righty choose offs come First

The main move to first base for righties can be legit performed v the ago foot disconnecting forward from the rubber, as long as it is the very first foot to move (the lead foot can’t move first on a relocate to first).

Yet, when this move is performed, the pitcher is not technically stepping turn off the rubber. Thus, once he picks off to first, he needs to throw it, or rather it’s a balk.

However, if a right-handed pitcher steps back off the rubber and also then does a pick off throw to first, the is not bound by any pick turn off rules, due to the fact that it’s not technically a pick off move any kind of more. Once a pitcher steps back off the rubber, he’s the exact same as any kind of fielder and can fake or litter to every little thing base he wants.

Lefty choose offs to First

The same is true here for lefties – if a lefthanded pitcher steps earlier off the rubber and also then fakes a throw to first, it’s perfect legal. The pick off move where this happens is called the snap throw. This is a legitimate step-off-then-throw pick off move that functions well because lefties space facing an initial base.

The various other left-handed choose off move, however, can not be faked–this is the traditional, large hang move. Examine out the video below or this short article for much more lefthanded pick off moves.

It have the right to be quite confusing whether or no a pitcher have the right to fake to very first base or not, for this reason remember the complying with rule:

If friend step back off the rubber, first, a fake is legal.

If you do a pick off relocate where the first move is no a step back, off the rubber, then a fake is no legal – it is a balk.

Remember: the IS legal to fake a litter to 2nd base

There are two choose off moves to second, one of which is the inside move, shown listed below in this instructional video.

Rule #3: while on the rubber, girlfriend can’t litter to a basic without stepping toward it

This dominion mostly uses to left-handed pitchers doing your hang relocate to first base. They have to step far enough toward very first (umpires usage an imaginary line drawn at a 45 degree angle toward first base as their rule) whereby the umpire deems the he stepped toward first rather 보다 stepping toward home.

This rule additionally applies to righties law a choose off relocate to 3rd base, or the old (now illegal in most of baseball) fake-to-third-throw-to-first choose off move. As soon as faking come third, many pitchers would certainly lazily step pretty lot right toward home plate, fake a litter to 3rd real quick just to accomplish that part of the move, then easily turn and throw come first.

Umpires implemented the ascendancy that pitchers–if they were going to fake to third–needed to actually action toward third, quite than just putting your foot right earlier down toward residence after lifting their leg.

But as a unofficially rule, there’s no great reason to choose off or fake to third base, so don’t also bother v it.

Rule #4: you can’t throw or fake a throw to one unoccupied base

This one is reasonably straightforward other than for the idea the what constitutes an unoccupied base.

What you can’t do: litter to a base wherein there to be no runner.

What you have the right to do: litter to a base where a runner is running.

Example the a Balk:

There is a runner on 3rd base only. The pitcher cannot throw to–or fake to–second base.

Example – not a Balk

There is a jogger on 2nd base. The runner begins stealing early and the pitcher procedures off and throws come third. This is legal because the runner is going toward third.

Rule #5: You have to come set and completely pause in the stretch position

This ascendancy is subject to a tiny interpretation – the pitcher, when he come set, should pause for at the very least one 2nd before transporting the pitch. The pitcher is not permitted to simply “roll through” comes set.

When the hand come together, signifying the the pitcher has come to his “set position,” he must stop completely. Plenty of pitchers, as soon as they obtain in a rhythm and are pitching well, won’t really stop once their hands come together and also will just go right into the delivery.

For more on coming set and the stretch position in general, clock the detailed video clip below.

Rule #6: girlfriend cannot carry out a quick-pitch

This hatchet is a little vague and can mean various things relying on the context. There room legal and also illegal species of fast pitches.

The Legal kind of “Quick Pitch” in Baseball

In this context, it way throwing the pitch prior to the batter is ready in the box, and also it deserve to be legal to quick-pitch a hitter in this sense. Here’s an instance of Johnny Cueto doing this below, however let me describe what he in reality did.

Cueto usually has actually a high, relatively slow leg kick. His typical delivery is slow and also hitters gain used to this slow pace.

In the video clip below, that starts his delivery just the same but shortens his leg absent dramatically and also is ~ above his method to the plate in about half the time of normal, and also thus damages the hitter’s timing. This type of rapid pitch is legitimate – the batter is all set to hit, time is “in”, and Cueto has simply favored to have actually a quick delivery on this one specific pitch, unbeknownst come the hitter.

Few pitchers select to use this tactic due to the fact that pitching is a really rhythmic activity, and also so many prefer to stay in their normal rhythm, timing and also tempo therefore they can manage their human body as ideal they can.

The Illegal kind of fast Pitch

Yet, there room illegal rapid pitches that room ruled a balk in ours beloved video game of baseball. Here’s just how it would certainly go:

The pitcher is totally set and also ready to pitch early, and also as quickly as the hitter puts one foot right into the box, that delivers the pitch.

Assuming time was “in”, i beg your pardon it certainly could be, the umpire could call this a balk.

The umpire usually regulates this by keeping time “out” until the batter is reasonably prepared to hit, and points come the pitcher yelling “play” when time is back in.

But periodically the umpire go not speak to time out in between pitches, and so the could collection the phase for a quick pitch, at which suggest the pitcher could deliver the ball before the hitter even has a clue its top top its way.

Why a rapid pitch can be dangerous

This is dangerous because hitters are often looking down at your feet or hand as soon as the an initial step into the box, together they’re do the efforts to acquire their human body in the right spot and get set up. If the pitcher it is intended a pitch at that minute when the hitter isn’t looking in ~ him…he could look up and find the key right between his eyes.

Marcus Stroman, who likewise uses quick-pitches to his advantage, was called for an illegal key in 2017, despite it showed up that it was possibly not the exactly call.

Rule #7: you can’t key while not encountering the batter

To be quite honest, I’ve never ever seen this balk dubbed in a video game in my whole career as a coach or player. In googling it, doing mine diligence because that this article, i couldn’t find any examples either.

So, my guess is as good as yours here, and also feel free to leave a comment if you have any kind of links come share that show this balk.

My presumption is the looking in ~ the runner on 2nd base while beginning the pitching shipment is what they’re talk about, yet the official baseball rule don’t elaborate, as much as i read.

I’ve seen countless pitchers end the years staring at the jogger on 2nd base (and I’ve done this myself), and also then lift their leg to start their delivery. Technically, the provide starts with the pitcher not looking at the batter. Yet what does “facing” actually mean?

What go “Facing the Batter” Mean?

Typically when we usage the ax facing, we average the entirety body turned towards someone.

“Turn and also face me once you’re talking!” – mine mom had said this numerous times throughout my adolescent years, once I was being an annoying teenager.

But would it be right to say that encountering my mom was just transforming my head towards her while mine body was angled away? No – that’s no really how we use the term.

And yet here, the pitcher’s chest is never facing the batter – the pitcher is facing very first base (lefties) or third base (righties) once in the big position.

So carry out they mean “looking”? i don’t know. Her guess is as great as mine, however I’m assuming the ascendancy should read, “pitcher have to be looking at the batter as soon as he beginning his delivery.”

Again, comment below if you know the precise details here.

Rule #8: you can’t perform component of the pitching activity while no on the rubber

Pitching wake up on the rubber. This rule is common sense because the pitcher is not allowed to deceive the batter or runners. Therefore pitchers, girlfriend can’t act choose you’re going come pitch when you’re not on the rubber – this would certainly scare runners into getting their an additional leads or to run to the next base, which would make them simple outs.

Don’t act the end your pitching movement – just pitch the ball as soon as you’re prepared to execute so.

Rule #9: girlfriend can’t unnecessarily hold-up the game

This one is self-explanatory. I’ve never ever seen a delay of video game balk referred to as in all my year of baseball, yet it’s in the rule publication to avoid it if part pitcher does decide to litter a hissy fit and also pace approximately the ar all day.

Rule #10: friend can’t stand on–or straddle–the rubber without the ball

Again, just like in dominance #8, a pitcher can’t cheat runners right into thinking he’s about to pitch–or is in reality pitching–when the isn’t.

So, it’s a rule that as soon as a pitcher straddles (stands through one foot on each side of) or stands on the rubber, he needs to have the baseball in his hand or glove.

Rule #11: friend can’t different the hands as soon as in the collection position

This dominance goes earlier to collection position – when the pitcher come set, his hands have come with each other for the first and critical time prior to delivering a pitch. When the hands come together inthe glove, the pitcher’s only way to rest them is through stepping earlier off the rubber first. Once the pitcher actions off the rubber, that is complimentary to do every little thing he wants.


But again, when the hands come together in the set position, they must stay that method until the pitch is ceded or a choose off is performed.

Rule #12: girlfriend can’t drop the ball while on the rubber

Sorry pitchers – you may not typical to, yet if friend drop the ball, it’s a balk.

Rule #13: The catcher must be in the catcher’s crate for a pitch

The catcher needs to be behind the plate in his little area

More associated Pitching Videos & Articles

If you’re here learning around balk rules, you’re most likely either a parental or coach of a young ballplayer. If that’s the case, the following videos and also articles will be a big help to you.

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