Hey Blue: What is the Look back Rule in Softball?

By Bob Downey, Hanover LL UIC 2014

In Amateur Softball Association (aka ASA) rules, there is a rule known as “The Look back Rule”.  USSSA, another rules association and PIAA have similar rules.  The intent of the rule is to eliminate the time wasting practice of base runners taunting the pitcher by jumping back and forth pretending to advance and then not and pitcher responding by faking attempts to pick off the runner.  

The rule basically states when a runner is legitimately off a base after a pitch or as a result of a batter completing a turn at bat, and while the pitcher has control of the ball within the eight foot radius of the pitcher’s plate, the runner may stop once, but must immediately return to the base or attempt to advance to the next base. 

To be considered in the circle, both feet must be on or inside the circle.

If they do not, the umpire should declare “No pitch”, the play is dead, and runner is declared out.   (Only one runner can be called OUT on a play even if there are several infractions.)  

Even though the rule is called the Look back rule, the pitcher does not actually have to look at the runner for the violation to occur and the penalty invoked. 100% of the responsibility is place on the runner. 

The rule does not apply if the pitcher makes a play, which includes faking a throw; the pitcher is not inside the circle; or does not have control of the ball.

For a more detailed description of the rule, see ASA rule 8.7.T