Game Modifications

MLB Hit and Run Baseball offers a bevy of game modifications that provide guidelines for alternative ways to engage youth baseball players in formal competitive play.

With a focus on an increased pace of play and additional skill acquisition opportunities for athletes than the traditional gameplay exposure, game modifications can bring your athletes a more enjoyable gameplay or practice experience.

Search through MLB Hit and Run Game Modifications for more insight into the ways you can bring an impactful experience to your athletes.

  • Practice
  • Game
  • Tournament
  • League rules
  • Modify starting count
  • Automatic strikeout if a hitter takes a called strike
  • Automatic strikeout if a hitter takes two consecutive called strikes
  • Double play automatically ends an inning
  • Walk or hit by pitch keeps batter at the plate with a modified count to start the next at-bat.
  • Last batted out goes to first base

Traditional Pitcher: Pitch limit by inning (No mid-inning substitutions; no re-entry). Pitch Smart (Rules by age group)

  • 20 pitches
  • 25 pitches
  • 30 pitches
  • Custom (front toss, tee, machine pitch, coach pitch, etc.)
  • Traditional
  • Change by inning (e.g. first inning: runner on first, second inning: runner on second)
  • Runner on a particular base to start each inning
  • Gloves
  • No gloves
  • Fielding aids

Forget teams, let's play! Have your athletes choose their own teams, positions and any other modifications. It's time for the athletes to pick the rules and let them play!

A fun way for younger athletes to reinforce practice drills, techniques and skills associated with fielding ground balls, the Ground Ball Game also helps to promote hand-eye coordination and bat control for young hitters. The game is all about hitting and fielding the ball on the ground, and both offensive and defensive teams have opportunities to score points with every ball in play! Can be played with live pitching, soft toss or off a tee.

Offensive Team

  • Hitting a ball on the ground scores one point
  • Hitting a ground ball through the infield scores an additional point
  • Each run scored is one point

Defensive Team

  • Successfully fielding a ground ball scores one point
  • Successfully recording an out scores one point
  • Recording three consecutive outs scores an additional point

Inning Scores

  • Offensive score and defensive score are compared each half-inning
  • The differential between the two teams' scores becomes the score for that inning

The Development Game focuses on each player's opportunities within any gameplay format to highlight individual strengths and weaknesses. Players earn points for completing objectives within each game, counting to their Development Score for the day.

Track individual player progress throughout the season to identify consistent areas of weakness to be addressed in practice and training sessions.

Development Scoring is broken down into different categories to allow athletes to register points in a variety of ways throughout a game. Points can be earned for:

  • Batting: Players' hits within the game
  • Fielding: Successfully fielding batted balls
  • Throwing: Regardless of the fielding opportunity, making a correct, accurate throw
  • Baserunning: Stealing bases, successfully advancing from bag to bag and proper sliding techniques
  • Baseball IQ: Plays in which an athlete demonstrates a high baseball IQ (e.g. moving a runner over without being instructed, taking an extra base when the defense isn't paying attention)
  • Attitude & Character: Demonstrating a positive attitude, high character and being a good teammate (especially when faced with adversity)

The focus shifts from a "win/loss" mentality to a developmental one, tallying player scores at the end of each game/practice and highlighting areas to be addressed/improved. Player progression can be tracked over the course of a season.

Gameplay with a focus on the execution of specific offensive/defensive objectives for additional points. (Coach's discretion)

Pitchers will receive an extra point for their team by executing:

  • One pickoff
  • Three consecutive strikeouts
  • Nine consecutive outs

Hitters will receive an extra point for their team by executing:

  • Line drives (does not have to result in a base hit)
  • Sacrifice bunt that successfully moves a runner

Baserunners will receive an extra point for their team by executing:

  • Advancing an extra 90 feet (stolen base, passed ball/wild pitch, first to third, etc.)

An alternative version of the Execution Game consists of set parameters for each inning, resulting in a different situation to which each team must adjust each inning. For example:

  • Inning 1: Starts with a runner at first base and the runner has to steal
  • Inning 2: Runners on first and second and the first batter of the inning must bunt
  • Inning 3: Starts with a runner at third base
  • Inning 4: Starts each at-bat with an 0-2 count
  • Inning 5: Starts each at-bat with a 2-0 count
  • Inning 6: All batters must bunt

A different take on tee work. Challenge your athletes to complete situational tasks while displaying bat control by implementing a tee in your practice or gameplay scenario.

By incorporating situational objectives (i.e. moving a runner, staying out of a double play, elevating a ball for a sac fly, etc.), challenge your athletes to execute with a stationary target with a focus on skill. Progress to similar execution with a pitched ball.

A simple modification for younger age groups to limit the distance infielders have to throw to accomplish defensive outs.

When a ground ball is fielded by the infielders, they have the option to throw the ball to the pitcher's mound instead of to first base. This limits the distance a third baseman or shortstop has to throw and could alleviate arm strength or accuracy deficiencies.

  • Under 7
  • 7-9
  • 10-12
  • 13 and up
  • Traditional
  • No score ("Lights Out")
  • Offensive scoring: Traditional run scoring or situational run scoring. The latter is traditional run scoring with the addition of points that can be scored for completed situational goals, including: moving a runner into scoring position with less than two outs, successful sacrifice bunt, successful sacrifice fly, work a walk from an 0-2 count, successfully foul off three or more pitches
  • Defensive scoring: Each recorded out, turn a double play, throw out a base-stealer, pick off a runner, outfield assists
  • Traditional (entire field)
  • Infield only
  • Infield inverted
  • Partial field (left, right or center field only, infield or outfield)
  • Traditional baseball
  • Tennis ball
  • Larger ball
  • Custom

No scoreboard/bookkeeper necessary! The focus is simply on playing the game, without the need to constantly check the scoreboard for the inning, score, etc. Choose a designated length of game and utilize opportunities to teach, instruct, encourage and go play!

Turn the field around 180°!

  • Use second base as home plate, and let your players hit towards the backstop
  • Play with a tennis ball or softer ball is encouraged ("pegging" can be allowed, if desired)
  • Can be used with a tee or soft toss
  • Anything that clears the backstop in the air counts as a home run
  • Allows for an "infield only" setup, while having a confined space for play for deeper shots
  • Recommended team size: six players
  • Incorporates additional teamwork opportunities
  • Gloves are optional

This game modification promotes pace of play with only four batters per inning, keeping pitcher workloads down at the youth level and focusing on fundamentally sound defensive baseball, getting on base and scoring efficiently.

In its offensive inning, each team will start with four runs and will send only four batters to the plate. For every batter who makes an out, one run will be subtracted from the four runs the team started with, and any runs scored by the four batters will be added to their total score for the inning.

The game will be played in five innings as a best-of-five series. Each inning will represent a win, loss or tie.

Instead of playing a nine-on-nine game with additional players on the bench, take advantage of having coaches and players together to create additional skill-based opportunities!

Ages 7 and below

  • Play a six-on-six game (infield only) while the other 12 players (six from each team) practice in the outfield or take batting practice
  • Practice can be specific to a particular week's practice plan, or simply opportunities to get additional repetitions during gameplay
  • The six-on-six game can use rules from Plus 4, Ground Ball Game, etc.

Ages 8-10

  • Play a six-on-six game (infield only) while the other 12 players (six from each team) practice in the outfield or take batting practice
  • Any ball hit to the outfield is an automatic double
  • Practice can be specific to a week's practice plan or simply opportunities to get additional repetitions during gameplay
  • Play a nine-on-nine game while the other six players (three from each team) practice in the batting cages or drill with a coach

This game works when you don't have two full teams.

  • Cover part of the field with as many athletes as are present and limit where the opposition can successfully hit
  • Examples include one or two infielders or outfielders on one side of the field (balls hit to the other side are outs) or the same numbers covering the middle of the field (balls hit to left field or right field are outs)
  • Pitcher can double as first baseman with Pitcher's Hand Out rule
  • Can also vary starting pitch counts, baserunning rules (e.g. implement "ghost" runners), etc.

Each inning poses a unique situational opportunity for the offense and defense. Utilize these teaching opportunities to reinforce practice plans and gauge situational awareness and execution.

Sample Plan:

  • Inning 1: No runners on, no outs
  • Inning 2: Runner on second, one out
  • Inning 3: Runners on first and third, one out
  • Inning 4: Bases loaded, two outs
  • Inning 5: Runners on first and second, one out
  • Inning 6: Runners on second and third, one out
  • Inning 7: Bases loaded, two outs

Each scoreless half-inning results in an additional run for the defensive team.