Stretch Position / Balk


#1

Can someone define a balk to me? I discussed with another pitcher that when in the stretch the pitcher should stand with his feet atleast shoulder width or better then come to a pause after taking a small step, look at the runners before throwing home. He thinks that if the pitcher stands with his feet at shoulders width and then emediately lifting his leg to the balance position that he can still throw to a base. I told him that this is a balk. Who is correct? These pitchers are 11 years old and we want to make sure they are holding runners correctly, especially this the first year of all out base stealing. Thank you


#2

well my coach told me that a balk is when you stop your pitching motion or a illegal pick off attempt. For example if you are a RHP and u lift your front foot off the rubber u CAN NOT stop your motion without throwing the ball or if you are lucky the batter asks 4 time and the ump grants it. If you lift your leg off the rubber and theres a person on st he steals you CANNOT throw it to 1st BUT you can throw to 2nd because you can not balk to 2nd. Only 1st & 3rd. Do you understand what a balk is now?


#3

Ok, I’m pretty sure that you have to pause for a full second in the stretch unless you pivot or step off. Either way, for a lefty he wouldn’t want to rush his move because the key is trying to get the runner to jump off. You have to really sell it and make it look like a pitch. For a righty he would go to 3rd which isn’t usually a good choice anyways, but if you must keep him close a good clean throw is best. (if it gets away it’s a free run, and rarely do people steal home)

Also assuming you are talking about pitchers going to 1st (LHP) or 3rd (RHP) remember that he must also pick his leg straight up and not break an imaginary line connecting the bases and the rubber. I will point out that pitchers at lower levels will almost always get away with breaking the plain and not going home do to umpires poor angle (2 man crew).

I’ll list a few things that will get a balk called:

Moving anything but the head while in the set position
Not pausing for a full second in the set
Droping the baseball
Making a motion without the ball

Since we’re talking about pickoffs I’ll mention my personal favorite. (RHP)

When the pitcher is taking his signs (I spread out and lean over my front knee) glance over at the runner, often he is taking his lead and rarely are they prepared to jump back). In one smooth motion make a spin move towards first base. Quite often will you catch runners crossing their legs or just not ready for a move (most expect the set position). (Picked off 4 or so people last season with that move).

Another move is to bring your hands as if you are coming set and at the last seccond before coming set pivot and throw. Often runners are expecting a set, and a check before a move and if executed you can catch runners of guard. Possibly the best if you have already shown the runner a clean pivot from the set position.

Hope this helped


#4

“I discussed with another pitcher that when in the stretch the pitcher should stand with his feet atleast shoulder width or better then come to a pause after taking a small step, look at the runners before throwing home.”

First, you should really use the term “Set Position” rather than “stretch position” since that is what the rules talk about. According to the rules, the “stretch” is something that happens prior to coming to the Set position.

Second, you have to come to a “discernable” stop. That doesn’t mean you have to stop for a full second (but you may). Once in the Set Position, you can look at the runner but still go to the plate. However, most umps will only allow you to look at the runner by turning your head. If you turn your shoulders, many will call a balk (although it’s not clear why).

“He thinks that if the pitcher stands with his feet at shoulders width and then emediately lifting his leg to the balance position that he can still throw to a base. I told him that this is a balk. Who is correct?”

Assuming you are talking about a throw to 1B, only a LHP can do this. The rules say that the pitcher must step directly at the base to which he is throwing. If a RHP did this, then in most cases it would be ruled a balk because he first “stepped” toward 3B (by lifting the knee).


#5

“Ok, I’m pretty sure that you have to pause for a full second in the stretch unless you pivot or step off.”

The rules don’t say that you have to pause for a full second, just that you have to come to a discernable stop. That is to prevent quick pitches (pitches before the batter is ready).

“When the pitcher is taking his signs (I spread out and lean over my front knee) glance over at the runner, often he is taking his lead and rarely are they prepared to jump back). In one smooth motion make a spin move towards first base. Quite often will you catch runners crossing their legs or just not ready for a move (most expect the set position). (Picked off 4 or so people last season with that move)…Another move is to bring your hands as if you are coming set and at the last seccond before coming set pivot and throw. Often runners are expecting a set, and a check before a move and if executed you can catch runners of guard. Possibly the best if you have already shown the runner a clean pivot from the set position.”

A lot of pros use these moves since you haven’t yet come to the Set position and have more latitude in terms of what you can do. Of course, you have to mix this up with throwing over from the Set position.