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Adults playing kickball.

Kickball is a playground game and competitive league game, similar to baseball, invented in the United States circa 1942. Kickball is also known as soccer-base or soccer-baseball.

American World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle reported it being played by U.S. soldiers during the Tunisia Campaign, 1942-1943.

The game is typically played on a softball diamond with a 10- to 16-inch (250- to 400-mm) inflated rubber ball. As in baseball/softball, the game uses 3 bases and a "home plate."

Rules generally follow baseball/softball rules, with the exception that the ball is kicked rather than struck with a bat. The pitcher rolls the ball towards the catcher, the "batter" kicks it with his/her foot, then runs to first base, becoming a runner.

In many games (especially among young players) a "batter" may request a specific pitch to the pitcher. For example, the batter may request a ball be delivered across the plate that is "Fast and a little bouncy". The pitcher must then attempt to pitch the ball in this way. If the delivery does not meet the request then ball can be recorded as a "ball".

A runner is out if any one of the following conditions are met:

  • If the ball is caught in the air without touching the ground first, then the batter is out (a fly out).
    • In the case of a fly out, any runner already on base who attempts to advance before the ball is caught may themselves be counted out if the ball is returned to the base they were on before the ball was kicked.
  • A defensive player with the ball touches the base ahead of a runner who is forced to go to that base, because of an advancing runner behind him (a force out).
  • A defensive player touches the runner directly with the ball while holding it (a tag out).
  • In some variations, a defensive player may throw the ball and hit the runner on the fly with it (often called "Indian Rubber").
    • In informal games, it is often decided ahead of time whether to allow "Indian Rubber" in all or some situations (for example, hitting a runner in the head is often considered illegal even if "Indian Rubber" is otherwise legal). Some rules only allow for thrown balls that hit the runner on the fly to count as an out, while other rules may count any contact by a runner at any time with a ball (such as a kicked ball) as an out by "Indian Rubber".

Most versions also allow for balls and strikes, with a strike defined as any pitch which crosses the plate below the knees of the batter (and which is thus reasonably kickable), though each league may define balls and strikes differently. As with baseball, a fixed number of balls defines a "walk" (usually 4, though sometimes only 3), for which the batter gets a free trip to first base, and a fixed number of strikes (usually 3, though sometimes 2) will get a batter an "out".

Foul balls (those kicked outside of the line through home plate and either first or third base) may be handled in several ways, depending on local rules.

  • They may be handled like baseball, with each foul counting as a strike, except that one cannot strike out on fouls (any foul hit with 2 strikes does not garner a third strike)
  • They may be counted as strikes, and a foul on a third strike still counts for an out
  • Every foul ball may count as an automatic out
  • Some versions count fouls separately from strikes, and call the batter out after a fixed number of fouls (usually either 3 or 4), or sometimes limit the number of "2-strike" fouls which may be counted before fouling out.

In some versions of kickball, there is a "Halfway" rule in where a runner can finish running to the next base even though the pitcher is on the pitchers' mound if they are halfway to the base. But, if they are not, the player must get back to the base before a player touches the base that they ran from.

Adult kickball

Adult recreational kickball leagues operate throughout the United States and Canada, offering an alternative to adult softball and soccer leagues. Adult leagues can be organized by local municipalities, social clubs (such as fraternities), non-profit associations, and for-profit businesses.

Kickball in other countries

Kickball is popular among youth in South Korea. Known as balyagyu/발야구 (foot-baseball), it is a staple in PE classes within elementary schools.

References

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