This manual is a composition comprised of different strategies and techniques currently used by teams in the National Beep Baseball Association. This also explains the rules and regulations that are to be followed in officially sanctioned events.
If anyone would like to add any information that may help new and/or existing teams in developing a more competitive defense please submit your suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
the original defensive manual was created by Marty Skutnik, we honor him and his work both as a player and for writing this comprehensive manual.
for the most recent beep baseball rule book which was updated in 2017, click here to read and download the 2017 NBBA Rule book.
Table of Contents
- Recommended Equipment
- Setting up the defense
- Positioning on the field
- Defensive Diagrams
- Defending ground balls
- >Defending balls in flight
Noah Webster describes “Defense” as the defending players on a team resisting attacks from an opposition. In the game of Beep baseball the definition for defense is a defending player stopping, securing and displaying the beep baseball before the opposition reaches a buzzing base.
It has been stated in professional sports that offense sells tickets, defense wins championships. Although the game of Beep Baseball is not charging admission and a good offense attracts attention, the team on the field with the best defense is most often the winner.
This manual will describe a variety of different defensive procedures that are utilized by some of the best teams in the NBBA. This is not to state that the defenses explained here are the only ones that are acceptable, each team sets up its defense in a manor that enhances the highest performance level that it can achieve with the appropriate skill level of their players at each position. In other words each team must find the best defensive strategy that works for them.
The following is a list of equipment that with the exception if the blindfold is recommended but is not required.
- Blindfold (required)
- Knee pads
- Elbow pads
- Hip pads
- Protective cup
- Spike shoes (plastic or rubber, no metal)
- Glove or mitt
This listing of equipment is strictly for the protection of the defensive player. Some players in the NBBA have been known to wear helmets. This list is not to scare any individual from participating in this sport, but is merely trying to limit the potential for injury to any player. The utilization of this protective equipment can and will enhance a player’s performance by limiting the possibility of scrapes and bruises that may occur. In this sport the defensive players must often dive across the field to stop a batted ball. The equipment mentioned reduces harm, which increases confidence.
Setting Up the Defense
The game of beep baseball is played on an open grassy area, with bases down the right and left sides of the field 100 feet from home plate and 10 feet in foul territory. The pitchers mound is 20 feet from home plate with a chalk stripe reaching from foul line to foul line 40 feet from the plate as well. This stripe is also a foul line. A batted ball must travel a minimum of 40 feet between the right field and left field foul lines to be considered a playable ball. If the batted ball does not reach the required 40 foot distance it is regarded as a foul. There is also a home run line stretching across the entire field 170 feet out. Any ball hit over this line on a fly is an automatic run. NOTE: the ball must travel over this line ON THE FLY, a ball that has hit the ground before this line is a playable ball for the defensive team.
Each team on defense must field 6 players and at least 1 but no more than 2 spotters. The roll of the spotter is very important to any defensive team. The spotter is a sighted individual who can assist the defense, by guiding them to a batted ball by calling out a designated number giving the defensive team a direction in which the ball was hit. The designated numbers that the spotter can call have been limited by the NBBA’s official rules to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. NOTE: These numbers are the only verbal signals that the spotter can give to the defense without being penalized. If the spotter should call out a name of a player or give any direction such as left, right, up or back the batter is awarded a run. The 6 players on a defensive team must position themselves beyond the 40 foot line and in between the right and left field foul lines, there is no standardized rule that states that a defensive team must have a designated number of people in the infield or in the outfield. In beep baseball there is no distinction between the two.
Positioning on the Field
With the assistance of the spotter the defensive team will be set in a position that will give them the greatest chance to successfully stop a batted ball and record a put out. To record a put out the defensive player must have complete control of the ball in hand (or glove) off the ground and away from the body before the batter reaches the base. If the ball is trapped against the ground or body, or is bobbled in any manner the umpire will not signal the out. When a defensive player has successfully blocked a batted ball and is about to, or already, has gained control he or she should indicate this to the rest of the defensive team. Most players yell got it, ball, or up. This alerts the other players that this player has possession otherwise continuing pursuit could knock the ball from their grasp.
The ability of individual players generally determines the position they will play defensively. The player who is the most successful in recording put outs will most likely be put in a position where much activity occurs in the field.
Each team works out its own numbering system with its own spotter. Since there are 6 defensive players in the field the spotter has the use of the 6 numbers which are 1-6. No other numbers such as 7, 12, etc. can be used. The spotter can only signal 1 number after the ball is hit. At no time can the spotter change his or her call. For example: when the ball is hit the spotter cannot yell 1 and then yell out 3. If the spotter makes an error in their call they must not correct it. This is known as a double call. If they do so, the batter is awarded the run. It is up to the defensive team to make the correction on its own as to the proper location of the ball.
There are several different methods that teams use for numbering. One method is to assign each defensive player with their own number. (diagram 1) For example: right field short 75 feet is number 1, right field deep 110 feet is 2, center short 90 feet is 3, center deep 120 feet is 4,1eft field short 75 feet is 5, and left field deep 110 feet is 6. The spotter will position themselves where they have clear visibility of the batter with no obstruction from a player, field umpire, or pitcher. The spotter should tell all defensive players any information about the batter that may be helpful to record an out. For example: left handed batter, right handed batter, male, female, big, small, or any other physical description that may be useful. This information may cause the defensive team to shift the defensive to the left, right, in, or back. Most teams through out a game will record the specific location and distance that a batter has hit in his or her previous at bats. This may also cause the defensive team to shift. When the batter hits the ball the spotter should give a loud quick accurate signal yelling the number of the player closest to the ball. The other defensive players should converge in a lateral movement in the direction of that player and the ball.
Another method is numbering the playing field itself (diagram 2). The field is divided into equal pie sliced sections with the point starting at home plate and gradually widening heading outward. This allows the spotter to make a call in a location that never changes. Defensive players can position themselves anywhere on the field and know the specific area where the ball is from the spotter’s call. There are several other methods (diagram 3 and 4) which by numbering specific areas on the field give some advantage to the defensive team. By securing the use of 2 spotters one on the right field side and the other on the left field side the field can be broken down into smaller areas giving the defensive team a more accurate location of the ball.
This diagram shows the defensive setup described in positioning on the field. Players are indicated with a star and the spotter with the letter S. This can be changed, if player #3 is quicker and has a wider range laterally left to right. In that case he or she may want to be positioned about 75ft. and have players I and 5 back up to 90ft. Remember anyone can be positioned anywhere on the playing field at any time.
This diagram is one example of numbering specific areas on the field. This can be a 1 or 2 spotter setup. If 2 spotters are used one would be positioned on the right field side responsible for calling balls hit into area 1,2,or 3 with the other spotter setup on the left field side responsible for balls hit into area 4,5 and 6. Spotters must be careful if a ball is hit up the middle and one spotter calls 3 and the other calls 4 this is a double call and the runner is awarded the run. Spotters should discuss with each other on who will make the close call.
This diagram is an example of a 2-spotter defense, one-spotter right field side and 1 spotter left field side. Since a spotter can call out the numbers 1 thru 6 the field is broken down into six areas on each side. This decreases the size of each area enabling the defense to locate the ball quicker. A ball hit into a #6 zone may result in a simultaneous or same # call by each spotter this is not a penalty however spotters generally discuss who makes the call.
This diagram is just one more example of a possible defensive setup 1 thru 5 from right field to left field with #6 indicating a deep-batted ball. Teams can number their players or specific areas on the field in any manner that works best for them. Experiment and try different defensive setups to find out which is best.
Defending Ground Balls
When a batter strikes a ball and a spotter calls the appropriate number the task of the defensive team is to stop the ball and record the put out. The average amount of time that the defense has is about 6 seconds; faster runners obviously do it in less time. The defensive player must react quickly to get in the vicinity of the beepball. The best defensive players usually slide along the ground using a full body extension with there arms extended as well as the legs to cover the maximum amount of ground area possible to prevent the ball from getting past. The best place to block a ball is with the chest or abdomen. This is the widest and most solid part of the body and is most likely to keep the ball in front of the person, making it easier to reach out and gain complete control. If the ball gets by it is the responsibility of that defensive player to alert the defenders behind him that the ball is coming towards them. Players generally yell “BY ME, LEFT OR BY ME RIGHT” remember a defensive player can give any direction or clue to another defender unlike the spotter. Communication between players is a must to be successful. It is also important that a defensive player lets the rest of his teammates know where he or she is stationed on the field. Most teams do this by counting out position numbers aloud each time the defenses reset. This alerts the players to there location in the field in the event a ball is batted in an area which 2 or more defensive players can get to. If the spotter sees that the players converging in the area of the ball are about to collide it is his or her responsibility to give out a warning such as “STOP.” No penalty will be levied. It is much better to give up a run than to possibly injure one or more players.
A batted ball does not always get hit out far enough to reach a defensive player the batter may swing at the ball and top it causing the ball to hit in front of home plate and dribble just past the 40 foot line. This can be a very difficult ball to get before the batter reaches the base, the defensive player must react quickly and determine that he or she must run in to get the ball. Some players have the ability to grab the ball with their hand outstretched as they are coming in. Other players run in and slide trying to block the ball with their chest or abdomen trapping it with there arms to gain control. The spotter can help by the inflection of the verbal signal for example if the ball is hit in short in a number 3 zone he or she can give out a very quick, short 3 if the ball is hit deep the spotter can yell threeeeeeeee. These signals are legal and all teams implement this strategy.
Defending Balls in Flight
There are only 2 possibilities for a batted ball to be in flight the line drive and the pop fly.
The line drive is the most difficult and perhaps the most dangerous to defend. When the ball is lined towards the defense it is the job of the spotter to be accurate quick and loud in his call. If the spotter sees that the ball is about to hit a defensive player he or she can yell out a warning such as down or lookout without any penalty being levied. Most teams will work out a signal with their spotter for this specific situation. To defend a line drive the player must first think of their safety. It is much better to give up a run than to take an injury. The defending player usually will react quickly and turn there back to the ball. If the ball is hit to either side of the defending player they still have a chance to slow or knock the ball down by reaching out with there arms. Again communication between players is important.
When a ball is popped up towards the defense the spotter must quickly give a call. This is a more difficult call because the ball is in the air and not on the ground when the signal is given. The spotter must judge in which area the ball will land, so the defensive player can make an attempt to field the ball. When fielding a pop fly the defensive player must also judge the approximate location where the ball will land. The player has the best chance of fielding this ball by allowing it to hit the ground in front of them and blocking it with their body to record the put out. The defensive player must react quickly because the hang time that the ball has allows the batter more time to reach the base.
Many attempts have been made to catch the ball on the fly. This is the dream of all defensive players, but very rarely happens. If in fact the ball is caught in the air by a defending player the inning for the offensive team is over regardless of the amount of the outs recorded.