Pre-season Softball Memo #1                                      December 2, 2019

December is quite early for the first softball memo, but with the recent changes and updates, we want to make sure everyone is aware of the new dates and rules.  Please also make note of the contact rule interpretations as well as the role of club coaches with high school teams.

The start of practice for 2020 has changed:

  • First practice: Monday, May 4.
  • First game: Monday, May 25-remains the same.
  • Regional Dates Class 3A: July 7, 9, 13, 2020

Eighth-grade students are eligible to practice (including scrimmages) with the high school team on May 4 and compete on May 25. Eighth graders may compete on the junior high team, high school team or both. If competing in junior high and high school, they may play in only three games on a calendar day.

Sixth graders may participate (practice or play) on the junior high team on the first day of practice, as set by the school district.  THIS IS NEW FOR 2020.

New exception for 2020 regarding individual limits:  A varsity player who enters the game only as a courtesy runner and serves only in that capacity for the entire game shall not be charged a game played toward the three-game daily limitation.  If she enters the game in any other capacity (i.e. pinch hitter, pinch runner, or defensive player), the game counts and she is subject to the three-game daily limit.  This exception applies only to the varsity level player and is intentionally narrow in scope.  The intent is to allow younger players to fully participate at lower levels and still be available for this limited varsity role without reaching the three-game limit. 

The Iowa Adaptation for the pitching rules which required both feet on the pitching rubber has been rescinded.  Iowa will follow NFHS pitching rules in 2020.   You can view the NFHS PowerPoint slides by clicking here

The NFHS has also produced a video on the pitching rules for your review as well. You can access that video by clicking here

If you have any questions regarding the pitching rule, please contact Softball Coordinator of Officials Cathy Creighton: cathy@ighsau.org

Contact Rule

As you enter the spring semester and athletes begin competing for outside teams, please remember the following contact rule and interpretations:

36.15(6) Summer camps and clinics and coaching contacts out of season.

  1. School personnel, whether employed or volunteers, of a member or associate member school shall not coach that school’s student athletes during the school year in a sport for which the school personnel are currently under contract or are volunteers, outside the period from the official first day of practice through the finals of tournament play. Provided, however, school personnel may coach a senior student from the coach’s school in an all-star contest once the senior student’s interscholastic athletic season for that sport has concluded. In addition, volunteer or compensated coaching personnel shall not require students to participate in any activities outside the season of that coach’s sport as a condition of participation in the coach’s sport during its season.

Penalty. A school whose volunteer or compensated coaching personnel violate this rule is ineligible to participate in a governing organization-sponsored event in that sport for one year with the violator(s) coaching.

Interpretations:

Unlimited contact for pitchers/catchers

Softball coaches have unlimited contact with softball pitchers and catchers. No batting practice, no hitting of ground balls, no position coverage and no drills may be performed by pitchers or catchers with coaches present. Pitchers and catchers may stretch, run and play catch (short and long distance). Catchers are there for the sole purpose of catching your pitcher(s).  When a coach is working with pitchers it must be in a separate room if hitting is also taking place at the same time in your school facility.

Parents coaching daughters: Coaches may work with their daughters at any time without being assessed contact. If other members of the team are in the gym, contact occurs. 

Outside Teams/Activities
Coaches may not require girls to participate on an outside team, attend a camp or clinic, or participate in strength & conditioning workouts.  Attendance at any out of season activities must be totally voluntary and cannot be required.  Coaches cannot punish or reward student-athletes based on attendance at any out-of-season activities.   Therefore, the following are examples of impermissible activities:

            team policies requiring athletes to inform coaches when they will miss a voluntary activity such as early morning workouts;

            "captains’" workouts when attendance is reported back to coaches;

            school lettering policies which include points or other criteria for attending out of season activities;

High school coaches should refrain from coaching/instructing outside teams with athletes from his/her team.  This includes:

            sitting in the dugout during practices/competitions of the outside teams, regardless of the role, i.e. taping ankles, taking statistics, charting pitches, etc.

            instructing coaches of outside teams during a practice or competition, including, but not limited to:  setting the lineup and filling out the lineup card; making pitching changes, pre-game or post-game comments with team away from the field.

Club Coaches

The role of club coaches with high school programs should be thoroughly reviewed in order to avoid violations of the contact rule.  Please be aware of the following:

club coaches with high school players on their teams are NOT eligible to be a paid a volunteer coach with the high school program while they are coaching a club team;

club coaches who have had coaching contact with high school athletes during the fall and spring seasons who then become coaches (either paid or volunteer) for the high school program MUST IMMEDIATELY withdraw from coaching the club team.  Once a verbal offer of involvement with the high school team occurs, coaching on the outside team is prohibited.  Club coaches may NOT continue coaching until school board approval on hiring or a signed contract is present; 

            if a club coach returns to coaching an outside team with members of the high school team he/she was involved with in the previous summer, he/she is NOT eligible to return to the high school program the following summer.

If you have any questions regarding the contact rule and/or the role of club coaches, please contact Jean Berger: jeanberger@ighsau.org