Little League® is not a win-at-all-cost organization. We pride ourselves in, and are committed to providing fair playing time to all Little Leaguers®. The more time players are on the field, the better. Every Little Leaguer should have the opportunity to experience new challenges on the baseball and softball field, and parents are encouraged to work with their children and their children’s coaches about trying new positions, growing skill sets, and ensuring all players on the roster are having a fun, meaningful experience at their Little League games.
To encourage participation, Little League’s Mandatory Play regulation assures all players get their time on the field. It’s important for parents to understand the specifics of Mandatory Play for both the regular season.
At levels of play, every rostered player present at the start of a game must participate in each game for a minimum of six defensive outs and bat at least once. Six defensive outs is defined as “A player enters the field in one of the nine defensive positions when his/her team is on defense and occupies that position while six outs are made.” Bat at least one time is defined as “A player enters the batter’s box with no count and completes that time at bat by being retired, by reaching base safely and is retired by force our tag out; scores a run; or the half inning ends.”
If, within a game, a player does not meet those requirements, he/she will start the next scheduled game, play any previous requirement not completed in the prior game, as well as the requirement for the current game before being removed. Managers are penalized for not meeting playing time requirements. First infraction is a warning, followed by more serious penalties if infractions continue.
There is no exception to this rule unless the game is shortened for any reason, at which time the local league may elect not to impose a penalty on the manager/coach.
In the Minor League Division, if a half-inning ends because of the imposition of the five-run limit, and a player on defense has played for the entire half-inning, that player will be considered to have participated in three defensive outs. For the Tee Ball and Minor League Divisions, if a league uses 15-20 player rosters, they may reduce the Mandatory Play Rule to three defensive outs and one at-bat per game.
1. If a team has 12 or fewer players in uniform at the start of a game, and is:
a. Visiting Team: Any player(s) who has yet to enter the game to meet the defensive requirement of mandatory play must be inserted prior to the first pitch or play in the bottom half of the fourth inning (Intermediate/Junior: fifth inning) into a position in the line-up that will ensure all requirements of mandatory play will be satisfied, absent a shortened game, including one at-bat.
b. Home Team: Any player(s) who has yet to enter the game to meet the defensive requirement of mandatory play must be inserted prior to the first pitch or play in the top half of the fifth inning (Intermediate/Junior: sixth inning) into a position in the line-up that will ensure all requirements of mandatory play will be satisfied, absent a shortened game, including one at-bat.
2. If a team has 13 or more players in uniform at the start of a game, players must be inserted into the line-up to bat offensively during the:
a. Visiting Team: fourth or fifth inning, or as one of the first three batters in the sixth inning (Intermediate/Junior: fifth or sixth inning, or as one of the first three batters in the seventh inning), that will allow their one at-bat to be satisfied.
b. Home Team: fourth inning or as one of the first three batters in the fifth inning (Intermediate/Junior: fifth inning or as one of the first three batters in sixth inning), that will allow their one at-bat to be satisfied.
Beginning with the 2023 tournament season, Tournament Rule 9 – Mandatory Play states: All Tournament Teams must adopt a policy of a continuous batting order that will include all players on the team affidavit present at the start of the game, to appear in the batting order. Each player is considered a “starter” and required to bat in his/her respective spot in the batting order.
A continuous batting order requirement applies for all divisions of tournament play except for the Senior Division.
There is no requirement for any tournament player to participate in the game on defense. However, players may be freely entered/re-entered into any defensive position throughout any tournament game regardless of their position in the batting order.