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HotMess Sports Kickball Rules

*Updates/Changes to the rules for the Spring 2022 season are in red font*

*Updates/Changes to the rules for the Fall 2022 seasons are in green font*

Field Dimensions & Set Up

1) Like baseball, playing infield is diamond—shaped with equal angles (90° angle) and sides measuring sixty feet (60’) with a base located at each corner. When measuring the distance between Home Plate and/or each Base, place measuring tape at back corner of Home Plate and/or each Base and then measure from that point, placing the base at the appropriate 60’ location.

2) The pitcher’s mound is placed in the center of the playing infield along the 1st Base and 3rd Base diagonal. The pitchers mound is 24' in diameter. 

3) Cones are placed on the foul lines in a straight line extending 10 to 30 feet beyond 1st and 3rd Base. 

5) Kicker’s Box: This area is a rectangular space where the front of the box aligns with the front of the home plate. It encompasses 1.5 feet (48 inches) in width off of home plate and is 2 feet deep.

6) Strike Zone: This area is a three-dimensional rectangular prism based on the home plate and extends 1.5 feet to its left and right sides (48 inches in total). The strike zone is 1 foot  in height, extends 1.5 feet to either side of the home plate. This may be marked at the discretion of the referee/umpire, or this may be marked with two flat orange strike plates to show the outer bounds of the strike zone

i. The strike plates are not part of the strike zone. They only outline the outside of the strike zone. See IX-Strikes.

7) After notifying the Umpire of any improper field set up, the field layout shall be corrected before the beginning of next play.

i. However, if the improper set up was to the advantage of one team for a whole half inning, it is to the umpire’s discretion if the incorrect layout will be correct at the beginning of the top of the next inning.

8) A safety base must be placed next to 1st Base in foul territory.


II. Equipment

1) Shoes: Without exceptions, players are required to wear close-toed shoes at all times.

i. Players are NOT permitted to wear metal cleats, studs or any shoes that contain metal.

2) Official Kickball: For this season, we will be using only HotMess Sports kickballs.

3) Each team is responsible for providing a kicking lineup to the umpire. This must be provided before the end of the first inning. 

III. Game Participants

1) Player Eligibility: In order to play in HotMess Sports, a participant must have completed the following:

i. Verification of 21 years of age

ii. Complete registration along with paid fees

iii. Adequately and currently health insured against all injury that may arise during game play

iv. Sign the liability waiver

v. Sign the code of conduct.

2) No substitutions or non-registered players are allowed.

i. Players that do not fit the eligibility requirements that are caught playing will be removed promptly.

ii. A team caught with a non-registered player will forfeit any games in which a non-registered player participated.

3) Players signed up for the league may only play on 1 team regardless of division.

4) Home Base Umpires: A home base umpire assigned by the staff has the authority to make all final calls during the game. This individual has the power to stop play, make final game play decisions, and may penalize players with yellow and red cards for violations of the code of conduct or unsportsmanlike behavior.

i. Only a member of the HotMess Sports staff not involved in game play may overrule an umpire.


IV. Teams

1) Players Required: Each team must field at least 8 players in the field in order to avoid a forfeit. Teams may have a maximum of 10 players on the field in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Colorado Springs, Lexington, Louisville, Oklahoma City, and St Petersburg. 11 players are allowed on the field in Nashville.

2) The fielding team must assign and field 1 pitcher and 1 catcher in an inning during the game. These positions may not change in the middle of an inning unless the team follows the substitution rules outlined in XIV, Injury & Substitutions.

i. The fielding team is allowed a maximum of 6 infielders (including the pitcher and catcher). However, once a ball is kicked, all fielders may move around the field as they please.

3) Only the captain may dispute a call for rule infractions with the Umpire but must do so (1) respectfully and (2) accept the final umpire’s ruling.

4) Players who are not the captain MAY NOT talk to any umpire. Failure to follow these rules may lead to dismissal from the game, or under certain circumstances, from the league. 

5) All participating players MUST kick in the written kicking order. Kicking order should be kept by the team but be readily available to be viewed by the umpire.

i. All players present, on the official roster, able to play, and wanting to play, must kick. If a player is meeting these requirements and wants to play, they must be allowed to play and no teammate or captain may tell them they cannot participate. If a player is injured they cannot be forced to play.

ii. HotMess Sports does not allow for “pinch runners.” 

6) Improper Kicking Order: Once a pitch is released from a mound, any umpire may officially make the call of “improper kicking order.” If a kicker is out of order, then the play is dead and an out is assigned to the kicking team. The kicking lineup will then revert back to where it should have been. 

i. Any resulting play from an out of order kicker will be nullified.

7) Adding Players to the Kicking Order: Players that are not present at the beginning of the game are to be removed from the line up and added last on the lineup once they arrive to the field. A player may be added to the end of the lineup even if a team has already been through its kicking lineup.

8) Base Coaches: Two members AT Maximum (one for 1st base and one for 3rd base) may serve as base coaches. They may not interfere with the game or the umpires. Base coaches may not physically interfere with game play. Doing so results in an OUT and the PLAY IS DEAD. Umpires may also send back other runners to a prior base if they gained an unfair advantage. Game play interference is defined by (1) the physical touching of a player (2) DURING GAME PLAY (3) that substantively influences game play.

i. Only the following examples shall be called by umpires as an OUT:

a) During an active play, a base coach helps a runner maintain balance or helps prevent the runner from overrunning a base.

b) During an active play, a base coach physically touches a runner during the play in order to alert the runner to advance to the next base.

c) During an active play, a base coach physically touches the ball in order influence the play.

d) During an active play, a base coach actively obstructs a fielder from collecting the ball or making a play.


a) High fives to runners when there is no active play. When a player is walked, IT IS NOT an active play.

b) High fives to runners when a runner has clearly crossed home plate.

9) Unless a player is currently the kicker, a fielder or a runner, that individual must be in the dugout area or far away enough from the baselines as to not interfere with the game or umpires’ vision.


V. Regulation Games:

1) Time: The following regulations will be in place for official regulation time of the games:

i. Games will last 45 minutes. However, no new innings are allowed to begin after the 40-minute mark of play. Teams will play out the final official inning called by the home base umpire REGARDLESS if it runs over the 45-minute marker.

2) Wins: The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.

3) Ties: During the regular season, games that result in teams having an equal score will be recorded as a tie. During the playoffs, tie games will go into the overtime rules provided in

XVI – Playoffs Extra Innings.

4) Forfeits: When a team must forfeit due to failure to have enough players, failure to adhere to the code of conduct, or playing with a non-registered player, an official score of 10-0 will be assessed for both the winning and losing team. If the forfeiting team notifies the other team more than 24 hours in advance of the forfeit, then the official score is only a 5-0 forfeit loss. 

5) Mercy Rule: There is a mercy rule of 10 runs. 

i. For whole game: If a game has played for 2/3 of the total game time allotted (e.g., 30 minutes for 45 minute games) OR there has been at least 5 completed innings AND the run differential is 10 runs or greater, then the captain of the losing team can agree to end the game. Only the captain of the losing team will decide. 

ii. If 2/3 of the game has not yet been played, there is a 10 run limit per inning for the winning team. If a team is already ahead when a  new inning starts (but 2/3 of the game has not been played yet), they can score up to 10 more runs in that inning.  Any runs scored after the 10th run will not be counted in that inning. Once this occurs the inning will switch over and the other team will kick.

iii. If the losing team is is kicking, they can score up to 10 more runs than the opposing team in an inning. i.e. losing team is down 10-0, they can score up to 20 runs in their inning to make the score 20-10. If a team is losing 5-0, the losing team can score up to 15 runs in an inning making the score 15-5. 

6) Delay of Game: Any player caught purposefully delaying the game  will receive a warning from the referee. If the player continues to delay the game after the warning the player may be dismissed from the game by the referee. 


VI. Pitching, Catching & Fielding

1) Pitching: Balls must be pitched by hand. The pitch must be released underhanded and cannot be released overhand.

2) Positioning & Encroachment:

i. Pitcher: Must release the ball with both feet behind the line running from 1st to 3rd base. Pitchers may NOT cross the line until the kicker makes contact with the ball (i.e. cannot crash the plate). Pitcher must start from inside the pitcher's mound. 

ii. Catcher: Must line up behind or parallel to the Kicker when play starts. Catcher may not cross Home Plate to field the ball nor be positioned forward of the Kicker at any point before the ball is kicked. In addition, Catcher is not permitted to come into contact with the Kicker nor position so closely to the Kicker as to restrict kicking motion. If a catcher violates these rules, the umpire must follow the infraction procedure outlined in VI-3, Encroachment Infraction.

iii. Infielders: Except for the catcher, all infielders must start in fair territory. Infielders must stay behind the pitching mound until the ball is kicked.

a) A 3rd baseperson may not start any closer than the line between 3rd base and the pitcher’s mound.

b) The SS, 2B, and 1B may not start any closer than the line that runs across from 3rd base to first base.

c) If any infielder violates these rules, the umpire must follow the infraction procedure outlined in VI-3, Encroachment Infraction.

iv. Outfielders: If there are more than 6 infielders within the infield bounds before a ball is kicked, the umpire must follow the infraction procedure outlined in VI-3, Encroachment Infraction.

3) Encroachment Infraction: The penalty for a team’s encroachment regardless of the type results in an AUTOMATIC ball awarded to the kicker. The umpire will call the play dead and the kicker will get a ball in the count. 

4) There is no infield fly rule.


VII. Kicking

1) Each kicker must make all kicks by the foot or below the knee. Any ball below touched by the foot or leg below the knee is considered a kick.

2) All kicks must occur at or behind home plate within the kicking box.

i. The location of the kick is based on where the kicker makes contact with the ball.

3) “Bunting” is permitted.

4) Intentional fouls are permitted.


VIII. Running and Scoring

1) Runners traveling from Home Plate may overrun 1st Base and may only be tagged out if actively and intentionally attempting to advance to 2nd Base. An idle left turn where the Runner returns directly to 1st base does not constitute an active attempt to advance. It must be a deliberate move towards advancing to 2nd Base. 

2) All ties go to the runner.

3) In order to score a run, runners must touch the physical home plate portion of the strike zone. If a player fails to touch the home plate (e.g., touches a strike zone “guide plate” instead or the strike zone but not the actual home plate), then the runner is NOT safe.

i. If the runner does not touch home plate, then the rules regarding standard play (e.g., running out of baseline, etc.) apply.

4) Running past another runner is not allowed. The runner that has been passed (i.e. lapped) is out.

5) Safety Base: the “safety base” must be used when the Kicker is traveling to First (1st) Base from Home Plate.

i. Safety base is ONLY available for runners traveling from home plate. No additional base may be used at any other base

ii. Fielders trying to make an out at 1st Base must touch the base in fair territory (the official 1st base). If a fielder interferes with the runner using the safety base, the runner will be safe.  

iii. When a play is attempted at 1st Base, the runner must touch the safety base – and not 1st base. If the runner touches 1st base prior to being called “safe” at the safety base, then the runner shall be called “out,” unless an exception applies:

a) The runner may use 1st base if attempting to advance to 2nd base (i.e. rounding the base to 2nd).

iv. Once a runner has reached 1st Base safely, the runner must start the next play on 1st Base. A runner only touching the safety base at the beginning of the next play is OUT.

6) Kickers may not slide into 1st Base and the kicker must only touch the “safety base” in accordance with VIII-2.

7) Runners must stay within the baseline. Any runner that runs outside the baseline is “OUT” unless the runner is merely following a natural running arc or changing course to avoid interference with a fielder making a play. Runners may move no more than 4 feet outside the baseline when attempting to avoid a ball tag.

8) Fielders must stay out of the baseline. Fielders trying to make an out at a base may have their foot on the base but must lean out of the baseline. Runners hindered by any fielder within the baseline or standing on the base—not making an active play for the ball—shall be “safe” at the base to which they were running. Runners may choose to advance beyond this base.

9) Runners are not permitted to steal bases. Runners may advance once the ball is kicked. 

10) Forced Situation (i.e. force outs): A force is a situation when a Base Runner is compelled (or forced) to vacate their then occupied base and try to advance to the next base because the Kicker became a Runner. For our kickball purposes, a Kicker becomes a Runner at the moment a kicked ball is not caught and touches the ground within fair territory.

i. Runners cannot remain on the base in a force situation as described above (see 11.2(n)). Runners who become out while running from one base to the next do not negate the previous forced situation.

ii. Runner at 1st Base is always forced to attempt to advance to 2nd Base when the kicker becomes a runner as described above. Runners at 2nd or 3rd bases are forced only when all bases preceding their then occupied base are also occupied by other base runners and the kicker becomes a runner as described above.

11) Hitting a Runner’s neck or head with the ball is not allowed, except when the Runner is sliding. If this occurs, then the Runner is “Safe”. However, if the Runner intentionally uses the head or neck to block the ball, and is so called by the Umpire or Referee, the Runner is “Out”.  

12) Tagging Up: To “tag up” is a requirement for base runners to retouch or remain on their starting base until a fielder secures the ball. It does not matter if multiple players make contact with the ball in the air, a tag up is required when the ball is  caught/secured (i.e. tagging up is based on catching/securing the ball, not first contact).

i. Runners are required to tag up when a ball that has not touched the ground is caught by a fielder, regardless if it is a catch within fair territory or a catch from a “live foul.”

ii. If a fly ball is bobbled by a fielder, but then eventually caught by the same fielder, runners must tag up once the ball is secured as a catch by the fielding player.

iii. Runners are free to attempt to advance at their own risk after a legal tag up even if the ball was caught in foul territory.

iv. A runner failing to tag up as required is an OUT if the runner is tagged before returning to their original base.

v. Failure to tag up is a forced out situation (i.e. a force out).

13) A run counts when a runner touches home plate before the 3rd out is made, EXCEPT that no run counts when the 3rd out is made during a forced situation, or when the kicker is put out before touching 1st base.

14) Overthrows: An overthrow is a ball thrown, kicked, or deflected into foul territory while making a defensive play toward a Player or base. When the overthrow rules apply, depends on the location of the regulation game.

i. Overthrows only apply at first base. Otherwise, Interference Rules in XIII-2 shall be followed.

a) When an overthrow made in the direction of 1st Base is made, the kicker may only advance to 2nd Base. All other runners may continue to advance as many bases as they please.

15) When a base is displaced during play, any Runner is safe while in contact with the base's original and correct location. All displaced bases should be restored at the end of each play.

IX. Strikes

1) A count of 3 strikes is an out. The first two fouls count as a strike. i.e: Before the first pitch, the count is 0-0-0. The first kick is a foul. The count is now 0-1-1. There are a max of 4 fouls. On the fourth foul the kicker is out.

2) A strike is determined by where the ball is when it crosses the front of the plate. A strike is defined as a pitch that:

i.  Is not kicked and is not called ball in accordance with Rule X-2

ii. When crossing the front of the plate, is between the front two strike plates indicating the strike zone

iii. Does not hit one of the front two strike plates but stays between them. 

iv. When crossing the front of the plate, the bottom of the ball is 1 foot or lower to the ground.  

v. In order for a pitch to qualify as a strike, the 2nd bounce of the ball has to be on or before home plate (i.e. After the ball is pitched, the second time the ball touches the ground must occur either before home plate, or on/adjacent to home plate in the strike zone)

3) A strike is also an attempted kick missed by the kicker inside or outside of the strike zone.

X. Balls

1) A count of 4 balls advances the kicker to 1st base.

2) A “ball” is any of the following when a kick is not attempted:

i. a pitch outside of the strike zone, including any part of the ball hitting any part of the front two cones (see IX-3).

ii. A pitched ball that does not touch the ground at least twice or roll before reaching home plate.

a) If the ball bounces for a second time before or on the plate, and is lower than 1 foot, it is NOT a ball; it is a strike. 

iii. A pitched ball that exceeds 1 foot in height at the bottom for the entirety of time while passing over the front of the plate (Rule I-6, Strike Zone) 

XI. Fair and Foul Balls

1) A count of 4 fouls is an out.

i. If a player has already kicked 3 fouls and kicks a live foul on the fourth kick, it is a dead ball and an out if the fielding team does not catch the ball.

2) A “live” foul ball is a kicked ball

i. That is in the air within foul territory.

ii. That is touched in foul territory by one player, but caught by another.

iii. Whose direction is altered by contact with any object (except a fielder) other than the ground in foul territory.

3) A “dead” foul ball (i.e. play is dead and all runners must stay on their respective bases)

i. A kick made on or above the knee (see VII-1).

ii. A kicked ball touched more than one or stopped in the kicking box by the kicker.

a) A double kick where the second contact made by the kicker with the ball is outside of the kicker’s box results in an OUT.

iii. A kicked ball outside of the kicking box (either in front of home plate or behind the kicker’s box)

4) Foul lines are considered fair territory.

XII. Outs

1) A count of 3 outs by a team completes the team’s half of the inning.

2) An “out” occurs when

i. kicking count is three (3) strikes or four (4) fouls;

ii. any kicked ball (fair or foul) is caught by a Fielder

iii. a forced out by ball tag at the base to which a Runner is running prior to the Runner arriving at that base;

iv. a Runner is touched by the ball at any time while not on base while ball is still in play;

a) However, a runner is NOT OUT if a fielder throws the ball and it hits the runner above the shoulders on the first point of contact (i.e. the neck or head)

a. This exception does not apply when the runner dives or slides; in this instance, the runner is OUT.

v. a Runner is tagged by the ball on base when the Runner fails to tag-up as required when a ball is caught;

vi. a Runner is off base when the ball is kicked (i.e. leading off); 

vii. a Runner is physically assisted by a Team member or Base Coach during play (see IV-8);

viii. a Kicker does not kick in the proper kicking line up;

ix. a Runner passes another Runner;

x. a Runner runs outside of the baseline;

xi. a Runner who misses a base but fails to tag up, as called by a Referee upon the conclusion of the play;

xii. a Runner who fails to properly tag up on a caught ball. Tagging up is based on when a fielder secures a caught ball. It does not matter how many fielders touch the ball before it is secured, as long as the ball is secured before touching the ground. (i.e. the ball is kicked, the ball bounces off fielder 1, then fielder 2 catches the ball before it touches the ground. The runner must wait to tag up until it is secured by any fielder)

xiii. a Runner tagged by the ball while on a base they are forced to vacate by the Kicker becoming a Runner;

xiv. a Runner coming from Home Plate who steps on 1st Base when required to use the Extra Base.

xv. A double kick where the second contact made by the kicker with the ball is outside of the kicker’s box results.

xvi. If the ball is thrown or hits the base in a force out situation, that runner is out. The runner is not out if the ball hits the base due to the kick. i.e.: Runner on 2nd base is forced to run to 3rd base. The ball is kicked and hits 3rd base before going into the outfield. The runner at second base is NOT out. If in this situation a fielder gets the ball and hits 3rd base on a throw before the runner makes it to 3rd base, the runner is then out. The runner is not out if the base is hit in a situation where it is not a force out.  


XIII. Ball in Play

1) Play ends when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and returns TO STEP ONTO THE PITCHER’S MOUND. The PITCHER’S MOUND is the half circle marked by officials who have set up the field. The referee calls time once the pitcher is within the half circle.

i. Runners who are off the base must return if they are not at least halfway to the next base.

ii. Runners who are past the halfway point toward the base may safely advance to the base.

iii. Once a Pitcher has ended play, the play is DEAD and all remaining runners are safe on their respective bases according to XIII-1.i-ii.

2) Interference:

i. By Fielder: When Runner is hindered by any Fielder within the baseline or standing on the base – not making an active play for the ball – the Runner shall be safe at the base to which they were running. Runners may choose to advance beyond this base while the ball is still in play.

ii. By Runner: When Runner physically hinders Fielder attempting to make a play in a deliberate and unsportsmanlike manner, the interference causes the play to end, the Runner is out, and other Runners must go back unless forced forward.

iii. By Runner Who Touches Ball: When any Runner (on or off base) intentionally touches a ball, the interference causes the play to end, the Runner to be out, and any other Runners shall return to the base from which they came, unless forced to advance.

iv. By Non-Permanent Object: When any non-‐ Fielder or non-‐

permanent object – except an Umpire, Referee or Runner – touches or is touched by a ball in play in fair territory, the interference causes the play to end and Runners shall proceed to the base to which they were headed.

v. By Player on Opposite Field: When a Player from the game on the opposite playing field (1) touches the ball and the interference gives either Team an unfair advantage OR (2) deliberately and intentionally hinders a fielder to prevent a play (not mere incidental contact) and the interference gives the Kicking Team an unfair advantage – so much so that play should cease due to fairness and sportsmanship. This interference causes play to end. The Umpire has the ultimate discretion to determine whether interference occurred and the location of base-‐Runner(s) but-‐for the interference. However, the Umpire may not advance the Runner(s) greater than to the base they were headed.

vi. Interference by Non-fielding Players: When non-‐fielding players (such as supporters, spectators, bystanders, etc.) significantly hinder or prevent a Fielder from retrieving a ball in foul territory – so much so that play should cease due to fairness and sportsmanship, this interference causes play to end. The Umpire has the ultimate discretion to determine the location of base-‐Runner(s) but-‐for the interference. However, the Umpire may not advance the Runner(s) greater than to the base they were headed

3) If a ball is popped or deflates significantly, that play shall be replayed with a properly inflated ball.


XIV. Injury & Substitutions

1) The Captain is ONLY permitted to make the following substitutions during the middle of an inning:

i. Prior to the start of any new inning, the captain may substitute the pitcher with either someone from the dugout or a current fielder. The switch can only happen when it is a new inning 

ii. May occur at any time to replace an injured or ill player. However, if someone is replaced due to an injury, the injured player may not return to the game.

iii. The clock continues while the substitution occurs. However, if it appears that players are purposefully delaying the game, players will be subject to a warning from the referee. 

2) If a player is ejected, injured, becomes ill or leaves the game early, the kicking order will remain the same less the removed player. Injured players who do not kick CANNOT play in the game.

3) If a kicker is injured before reaching or being able to reach 1st Base, then the kicker isOUT.

i. If a kicker is safe to first, then he/she/they may be replaced by the person who was last out.

4) Pinch runners are not allowed. The only time a runner may be replaced is due to an injury.

XV. Playoff Extra Innings

1) Extra Innings only occur in playoff rounds.

2) Teams will continue to play extra innings until one team has more runs at the end of an inning.


XVI. Sportsmanship

1) Though games are often competitive, ensuring participant safety and providing a comfortable LGBTQ+ atmosphere is of utmost importance to HotMess Sports. Proper sportsmanlike is subjective and should be viewed as how the reasonable person would interpret the behavior in a game. However, certain instances are inherently unacceptable, and the HotMess Sports staff will exercise zero tolerance when handling these situations.

i. There is a zero tolerance policy for the following behaviors:

a) Public drunkenness

b) Physical violence or threats of violence

c) Excessive swearing or swearing of any kind toward any umpires or

opposing players

d) Discriminatory comments

e) Name calling

f) Sexual harassment or inappropriate touching of any other individual

g) Creation of any conditions of an unsafe environment

h) Bullying of any kind.

ii. The umpire has the discretion to give warnings and ejections for violations of the code of conduct or the rules of sportsmanship described herein. 

2) Captains are responsible for maintaining proper sportsmanlike behavior for their team.

3) In addition to penalties enumerated above, the HotMess Sports staff  reserves the right to apply additional penalties as it sees fit.

6) Ejections: Players that are ejected from a game or sitting out from the game due to a an ejection must immediately leave the park until they are allowed to play again.

i. Any team that has a player fail to adhere to this rule will automatically forfeit the


7) Sportsmanslike Conduct at Affiliated Events: the HotMess Sports staff reserve

the right to eject or expel any players found to engaging in egregious conduct toward other players (e.g., physical violence, bullying, sexual harassment or abuse).