A foul ball is any batted ball that does not land in fair territory or pass a designated foul line. They are defined by the governing body, such as the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). In softball, a batted ball is considered to be “in play” if it passes through the air beyond the spot where fielders have stationed themselves to attempt to accept it and ends up at least partially in fair territory. If any portion of a batted ball lands in fair territory or reaches a designated foul line without first disembarking before either boundary, then it becomes a fair ball.

Foul balls can occur when a player swings and misses or as an intentional failure to swing at the pitch. They can also happen as unintended result of an attempted bunt when they become ‘popped ups’ that travel out of bounds into foul territory. Foul balls hit into grounds crew box seats typically become ground rule doubles or home runs; however, if no fielder attempts to catch them, those balls will be declared fouls.

Foul balls are defined differently for other bat-and-ball games—for example there are no concessions for ground rule doubles or home runs in cricket when the batsman successfully hits it over boundaries (even in cases like bad light). To learn more about how fouls work in fastpitch softball specifically and how coaches/umpires can explain/enforce rules correctly please consult NFHS official rules on their website.

Types of Foul Balls

Foul balls in softball refer to batted balls that are considered illegal, or do not count as plays. According to official rules, a foul ball is a ball that is hit outside the confines of the playing field or beyond the normal boundaries of play: over the fence in fair territory, past first or third base. It can also be called if the batter does not attempt a swing at a pitched ball within the strike zone, if it hits any part of home plate other than on top of it in foul territory, and more.

There are two types of foul balls typically seen in softball games: momentary and continuous. A momentary foul occurs when the collision between bat and ball produces no loss in momentum of either object. This momentum is calculated using an imaginary line projected from the exact point at which contact was made between bat and ball. A continuous foul happens when contact between bat and ball produces an obvious loss of momentum from one object to another due to an extreme angle change created by contact, such as off a bad pitch or swing at a pitch out of reach.

Foul balls result in strikes being counted against the batter’s total number of strikes for that game or inning depending on how many balls have been thrown prior to it being called a “foul.” In some instances batters can be rewarded with a walk if four consecutive fouled balls have been thrown by pitchers previous to its calling. If foul tips are caught by fielded players though they are ONLY considered strike if they fit into all criteria previously stated above and no out will be rewarded even if they have been cleanly caught; but still must technically count towards batters four strike total during any given inning before being awarded walks as well.

Impact of Foul Balls on the Game

A foul ball is a batted ball that goes outside the foul lines, or in fair territory outside the first and third base lines, before hitting the ground or any object other than the fielder’s glove. Foul balls are considered offensive strikes and count against the batter, so if a player strikes out on a three-pitch at-bat and hits two foul balls, then they have officially struck out.

In addition to counting as a strike, foul balls can have an impact on other parts of the game of softball. Depending on where in fair territory that the ball is hit, a batter may still be able to advance one to three bases if there are already players occupying those bases. Similarly, if there are no players occupying any of those bases when a player hits a foul ball, they are allowed to advance without penalty while all of their teammates must remain in their original positions until after the ball is legally caught or unless it passes first or third base in fair territory and lands beyond it. This rule exists to prevent victims of pop flies from being put in harm’s way with opposing teams taking advantage of this loophole by intentionally hitting deep enough into fair territory for their runners to safely advance multiple bases before being tagged out by an outfielder or infielder.

Foul balls also allow teams to extend innings. By putting them into play and keeping them alive after two strikes have been recorded or by successfully sending runners home on failed attempts at fielders catching what would have been an officially recorded out had it not been for one another fielder managing to keep it from hitting the ground first counts only as an additional strike. Allowing teams extra opportunities through added offensive attempts outside those earned via rules-abiding plays keeps many games more interesting for audiences who can witness side bonus action from players who might not have made it onto base had regular defensive plays gone as anticipated by both fielding and batting sides alike..

Umpire Signals for Foul Balls

Softball umpires use body language signals to signify a foul ball. It is important for players, coaches and fans to recognize these signals so they are aware if the ball is still in play. There are several commonly used signals that indicate a foul ball and they can vary between leagues.

The most common signal used by umpires is the arm wave. This signal involves the umpire raising their right arm high into the air and then continuing with a circular motion resembling an arc away from their body. No verbal announcement is necessary as this signal can be quickly recognized by everyone involved in the game.

Another signal for indicating a foul ball is two arms raised into the air at 45-degree angles from the body. This may be slightly modified depending on jurisdiction but it will generally involve both arms stretched outwards at waist level or above. The signal may also have some accompanying verbal announcement like “Foul!” or “Foul Ball!”

Different jurisdictions may also include additional visual signals including holding one arm horizontally while continuously rotating it in circles until they reach eye level and then pointing out towards where they deem the ball to have gone foul. Umpires may also use hand tapping as another alternative signaling option – usually accompanied by an audible “tap” sound with their hand when indicating that a particular pitch was indeed a foul ball.

Common Foul Ball Scenarios

Foul balls are a common occurrence in softball and can be the difference between winning the game or not. It is important for players and umpires to understand what constitutes a foul ball so that games run more smoothly. The following are some of the most common scenarios in which a foul ball can occur:

  1. A batted or thrown ball lands in foul territory before crossing first or third base – In this case, the batter has four chances to hit a fair ball and if he/she fails to do so after four tries, he/she is out.
  2. A batted or thrown ball touches any part of the body, glove, or bat of an infielder while in fair territory – If an infielder touches the ball while it’s still in fair territory, it will be called a foul ball and count as one of the batter’s three strikes. If an infielder snags onto a hit and then holds the ball for too long without attempting to throw it, it will also be labeled as a foul ball even if it does not land in foul territory ahead of time.
  3. A batted or thrown ball is judged as “not caught” by an outfielder standing on foul territory – This usually occurs when there isn’t enough time for an outfielder standing on foul territory to catch up with the fast-moving balls and make sure that their feet remain inside fair territory when catching it. The result would then be ruled as a live-ball (fair) catch; however, if their feet step across into foul ground before steadying themselves, then they will have hindered play and committed an out by way of fielding error—resulting in a called “foul-ball” by either side calling it off (catcher vs umpire).
  4. When interference has been committed during overthrows concerning third base – An offensive player interfering with any throw during this situation will result in all runners being sent back until they reach their original base prior to starting again — meanwhile, defensive players doing something similar will lead to all runners moving up one base if they were trying to make belay into homerun digs at third before overthrowing them—resulting in interference tagged by umpire(s).Strategies for Avoiding Foul Balls A foul ball in softball is any batted ball that does not land in fair territory or is caught by a fielder before it does. A batter is out when the third strike of their at-bat is a foul ball. A strikeout on a foul tip — where the bat hit the ball, then the catcher caught it without it touching the ground — also counts as an out. For both experienced and new players, avoiding foul balls can help keep batters from making crucial outs and increase their team’s chances of success.

Some strategies for avoiding unintentional fouling off balls include:
-Making contact with the middle of the bat. The sweet spot located toward the center of most bats allows for more control over direction, reducing the risk of sending a pop-up or short fly too far away from an infielder’s reach.
-Read pitches carefully and practice good plate discipline. While teams often coach players to swing early, particularly when hitting with two strikes, holding off until you recognize a pitch’s velocity and location gives batters one more chance to hit a fair batted ball instead of fouling off on another attempt.
-Be aware of defensive shifts and react accordingly. If you’re facing several outfielders instead of your traditional double play configuration, consider laying off outside pitches rather than taking your chances with an unpredictable angle that might drop too quickly into foul territory or fail to make it far enough away from fielders behind you.


The bottom line is that a foul ball in softball is any batted ball that lands outside of the designated foul territory. This can include a ball that goes out of play or a batted ball that touches the ground in foul territory. It does not matter whether the batter intentionally hit the ball in this area or if it was unintentional, as long as it lands outside of fair territory, it will be considered a foul ball. In cases of intentional fouling, there may be other consequences such as a penalty and/or loss of pitch count. Knowing what constitutes a foul ball can help players, coaches and umpires work together to maintain game fairness and order.