GAA Rounders Rule Book

Rules of GAA Rounders 2020  version 3. March 2020


This booklet contains an official copy of the playing rules of Rounders. Its aim is to ensure that all players, spectators and commentators, read and learn the rules and definitions of the terms used in the rules. When spectators are fully conversant with the rules, they will have a better understanding and appreciation of refereeing decisions. It is important that teachers and coaches ensure that all players have a copy of this booklet and that they study it carefully. This will improve their understanding of the game and help them to accept the decisions of the officials, without dissent. A thorough knowledge of the rules enables players and teams to become more efficient and successful, and to get greater satisfaction from playing. It is important to remember that the definitions of terms are an integral part of the playing rules. When these definitions are clearly understood by all concerned, we can expect a much higher consistency in decision making by match officials, because each term has only one possible meaning.

This booklet emphasises the importance which the Association places on promoting a better understanding of our games, which are part of our national culture, by presenting the playing rules in a way which is easy to read, remember and apply Playing Rules for Rounders.

Dimensions 1.

The field of play shall not be less than 70 metres long by 70 metres wide.

There shall be four bases 25 metres apart, and the lay of the ground shall be as shown in diagram 1.

Diagram 1

The letters stand for

a - Foul Lines e - First Base

b - Pitchers Stand

f - Second Base

c - Home Base

g - Third Based - Catchers Box

h - Field Boundary

d1 - Batters Box

i - Batters Bench (foul ground is shaded) A rectangular box, 4 metres by 8 metres, shall be placed at home base, with the centre of the back line in line with the centres of home base, the pitchers stand and second base, and six metres away from the centre of Home base.

The back corners of the catchers box will be each 2 metres from the centre of the back line. A line across the centre of the box will divide it into two equal squares, the section containing home base shall be called the Batters box, the back section will be the Catchers box. (See Rule 14). The side lines of the batters / catchers box and the back line will be continuations of the foul lines.

[See Diagram 2]

2. Home base shall consist of a square of 64 centimetres each side. Its centre will be over the intersection of the base lines. Each of the other bases shall be a square of 64 centimetres each side. Each of 1st, 2nd and 3rd bases shall be contained within the 25 metres square, between the diamond corners, and the base area will be the marking on the ground, not the material temporarily laid for the match.

3. There shall be a Pitchers stand 64 centimetres square at 12 metres (11 metres for ladies and minor pitchers) from the centre of home base in the direction of and in line with 2nd base.

4. A bench (or area) shall be provided for the batting side, at a distance (to be marked) from fair ground and the Catchers box as allowed by the referee.

a. Managers will not be allowed to coach any nearer to fair ground than allowed by the referee.

b. Team managers (or Captains) must ensure that the space designated by the referee shall be kept clear of bats and other equipment. Equipment (Bat, Ball, Gloves)

5. The bat shall be a round staff not more than 70 millimetres in width and not more than 1.10 metres or less than 70 centimetres, in length.

6. The ball shall be a hurling ball (size 5), 98 grams to 130 grams weight, and between 227 and 255 millimetres in circumference.


a. In all official matches players must wear clean and proper attire, skirts, shirts, blouses, shorts or trousers must be worn in club (team) colours and must be worn for the duration of the match. Socks, stockings or tights must be worn and must be in club (team) colours.

b. No spikes will be permitted, regular five finger gloves may be worn

c. Pitcher & Catcher must wear GAA approved helmets while fielding. Teams (Field Positions and Substitutions)


a. Teams shall consist of not more than nine players each. Each captain or manager must insure that the referee has an accurate team list in the correct batting order; with the initial fielding positions recorded.

b. All batters names must appear, in full, on the batting order with both first names and surnames written legibly, and distinguishing middle names or other titles must be made clear where any two players have the same first and second names.

i. This must be done in advance to allow the match to start on time.

ii. Up to 14 players from the panel may play in a regular match (excluding extra innings). Five (5) substitutions may be made, once the referee has been informed. Runners on base may be substituted.

iii. A temporary substitution may be made for a Blood Injury. The blood injury substitution must become a permanent substitution, if unable to return to play within 15 minutes after leaving the pitch.

iv. Substitutions can be made at any time before the next batter is called by the referee.

9. The players of each team taking the field may be arranged as follows (Diagram 4).

The pitcher at the pitchers stand 

1; The catcher in the catcher

2; One player adjacent to each base 

3, 4, and 5; and the remainder of the players in any position on fair ground 

6, 7, 8 and 9, may be assigned by the pitcher, captain or team manager. (Numbers above refer to numbered positions in Diagram 4).

Numbers and letters in square brackets [ ], are markings used on score sheets to indicate players positions. The catcher may take up any safe position inside the Catchers box.


a. The batting team shall remain at the batters bench or area when not at play. Batters must not approach the batting area until called, by name, by the referee or scorekeeper.

b. The batter must then give his/her name to the referee. If a batter ignores a third call to bat, then he/she will be called out.


11. The referee will call both captains and make a toss for choice of batting/fielding, before the game commences.


a. The game, when commenced, shall continue until each side has had five innings (seven innings in All Ireland Senior Championship Semi-finals and Finals).

(i) An innings in Rounders is the basic unit of play, consisting of 2 halves, the top (first half) and the bottom (second half). In each half, one team bats until three outs are made with the other team fielding.

b. The team, which has scored the greater number of points (or runs) at the end of the game, shall be the winners. If, at the end of a knock out match, the scores are level, a toss will be made, and two additional innings will be played to decide the winner, commencing with batter number one. A maximum break of ten minutes be taken. Substitutions may be made. If the sides are still drawn, then the team which has won more innings, shall be declared the match winners. If the innings won method fails to decide, then the match will be refixed (replayed).

c. The team last to bat shall not continue the match if and when they have scored more than the opposing team on their final batting chance.


a. The pitcher, facing home base, should present the ball to the batter. The pitcher must commence his/her two steps from a standing position and come in from the back of the mat. The pitcher may pitch from a standing position on the mat and deliver the ball under-arm (underhand) towards home base.

b. The ball must pass over home base, not lower than the batters knee nor higher than the batters shoulder. The pitcher must be in contact with the pitchers stand, and not in front of it, at the time the ball is released. If the ball is outside these limits it will be declared a Bad Ball. A batter may not run, and the call is against the pitcher. If the ball hits the ground, bounces, and is struck by the batter, the call is a Bad Ball.

i. Calling a ball - the ball is good when delivered AT the knee and/or AT the shoulder.

ii. Calling a ball - Crouching  the ball will be called good or bad against the standing height of the batter as he or she enters the batters box.

c. On a bad ball the ball is dead and no play can take place, unless it is the third bad ball (not necessarily in succession); in which case the batter goes to first base and all runners advance one base each. A run will be scored provided a runner coming home from third base touches home base. Play on the ball ends once the referee calls the next batter. (A runner coming home and not having touched home base will then be declared out).

d. If, in the referees opinion, a pitcher deliberately delivers three bad balls, then the referee may allow each of the batter and runners to move two bases.

e. It is permissible for the fielding team to change the pitcher at any time, but good pitches and bad pitches will stand.

f. The pitcher is free to move from the Pitchers stand to play the ball. No infielder may take up a position nearer to home base than the pitching distance, until the pitch is good. Except the pitcher.

g. Coming across the mat - the pitcher may only cross the mat once the ball has been released (i.e. come off the mat on the side facing the batter).

h. Underhand delivery - pitchers cannot use a full circle for delivery of the ball.

j. Pitching in sideways - the pitcher must come in from the back of the mat when pitching.

l. Centre Line - a centre line should be placed on the pitchers line and in line with 2nd base and home base.

m. Calling a ball  a delivered ball must pass good over all of the batters mat. For juvenile games a referees discretion is required.


a. A batter, having taken up a position, must receive one good ball before changing to bat on the other side. A batter may only change position once.

b. A batter may not stand in advance of home Base. A batter may not obstruct the catchers view of the pitcher (nor the pitchers view of the catcher) or vice versa, or the pitched ball.

c. A batter may not encroach on the catchers box. For the first offence a warning should be given and for a second offence the batter should be declared out.

d. Each batter shall be entitled to three good pitches before being required to leave home base.

e. The catcher may not enter the Batters Box nor have either foot outside the Catchers Box until the ball is in play.

15. The ball must be struck in a forward direction and to be in play must enter the field of play without touching foul ground, be legally played by a fielder, remain in the catchers box or land in the catchers box and travel directly over the end line. That is, a ball struck sideways and entering foul ground from the batter catchers box will be called a foul ball and on the third good ball the batter is declared out. a. Any ball landing in the triangle area (shaded area) and bouncing out the sideways is deemed to be a foul ball. b. Ball in catchers box  if a ball lands in and does not roll out of the batter or catchers box it is a good ball and it is playable.

16. If a batter throws or tosses a bat in a dangerous manner, then a warning will be given and, if the act is repeated, then the batter will be disqualified from the game.


a. If, on a third good ball, the batter fails to hit the ball and the catcher holds the ball before it touches the ground, then the batter is out, runners may try to advance and may be put out.


a. If a batter hits a good ball and it first touches foul ground (shaded in Diagram 1) he/she is not entitled to leave home base. The hit shall count against him/her and, if it is the third hit, then he/she shall be declared out.

b. A foul ball is a dead ball. No play can be made.


a. When a batter leaves home base each runner on a base may advance to the next and succeeding bases.

b. If the batter, having struck the ball, leaves the marked batters box on a first or second hit, then he/she must continue to first base and may not return to the batting position.

c. The batter is deemed have left the batters box if no contact has been kept with any part of the body.

20. On a third hit, a batter must vacate the batters box. No runs may be scored while the batter is in the box.


a. A base runner shall be declared out if a member of the fielding side, possessing the ball, touches the runner or touches the base before the runner.

b. If a base is tagged when a runner over-runs and, unless the next base is available, the runner is out; except at first base. The batter is allowed on first base provided they have not turned the corner towards second base.

c. If a base is occupied then it cannot be tagged. This action does not restrict the base holder from running to the next base, provided it is untagged or unoccupied. The ball may not be thrown at a runner (or batter).

d. All bases become untagged when the pitcher steps onto the pitchers stand.


a. Base runners may not deviate between bases so as to avoid being tagged.

b. If a fielder is waiting with the ball, then he/she should try to contact a runner with only the hand, or by light touch. The runner may not claim obstruction.

c. A runner may not deviate from the straight line, but if it is possible to avoid contact by sliding under or jumping over a fielder, then the runner may do so without penalty. If contact is made in any way, even accidentally, with the fielder holding the ball, then the runner is out.

d. If the ball touches any other fielder or spectator before a fielder catches the ball, an out will not be declared.

23. A fielder may occupy a section of a base (leaving a clear pathway for the runner), while awaiting receipt of the ball. A fielder may not stand on lines between bases so as to put a runner off course, unless the fielder has the ball. The runner is entitled to occupy the base to which he/she is running. A fielder must be seen to be holding the ball firmly, at the time of the tag on a base or a runner. If the ball is dropped in the tagging motion, then the fielder has not had possession of the ball.

24. If a fielder catches a struck ball before it touches the ground, the batter is out and runners may advance. If a fielder is touching foul ground when the ball is struck the play or catch is illegal. The ball is dead and the batter is entitled to receive another good ball.


a. Batters shall bat in the order in which their names appear on the team list.

b. In subsequent innings the first batter is the one whose name follows the last batter in the preceding (immediately previous) innings.


a. Bases must be touched in legal order: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and home base. Players obliged to return must do so in reverse order to the last base they were legally entitled to occupy.

b. A player must return if an umpire or referee determines that he/she has failed to make contact with a base and, in doing so, has proceeded to the next base. The umpire at the relevant base will extend both arms vertically to indicate that the runner has missed the base.

c. The runner has a right to return to the untagged base.

d. Failure of a runner to touch a base, and who is declared out, shall not affect the status of preceding or succeeding runners who touch each base in the correct order.


a. No runner shall score ahead of another preceding him/her, if the preceding runner is not out or in danger of being put out.

b. A base cannot be occupied by more than one runner. 28. a. The ball is not in play until it is struck, or has passed, as a good ball, over home base. b. If a batter strikes and does not run, then runners on base may not occupy the next base, unless it is the third good ball, or there is a catch. Runners may not leave the base until the ball is in play.

c. Umpires should extend both arms vertically to indicate that a runner has left early. Match Officals: (Referee, Umpires, Scorekeeper)

29. BASE PLAY MUST BE DECISIVE. Referee and Umpires faced with split decisions must allow that the fielder was not fast enough to win the decision, and the runner is declared in.

30. The referee shall have full charge of, and be responsible for, the proper conduct of the game. His or her duties and jurisdiction shall extend to all points of the game. No player shall dispute the accuracy of the referees judgement and decision on play. After the toss only the team manager so identified by the captain to the umpires, or the captain, will have power to approach the referee on points of misconduct, or substitution calls. For any unsporting conduct the referee may award batters up to two bases, or declare batters or runners out. The referee must acquire the two teams batting lists before the toss, and ensure that no player, supporter or spectator is nearer than 12 metres to fair ground.

31. Three umpires shall be appointed to assist the referee in decisions as to players reaching bases. They shall take up positions one each adjacent to 1st, 2nd and 3rd bases, in such a way as to be no interference to any player or runner during the game. An umpire will indicate an out at the relevant base by extending one arm vertically, until noticed by the referee, and the runner involved has left the field of play. Outs may be called only by the referee or the umpires, and fielders calling outs will be considered by match officials as demonstrating unsporting conduct.

32. The referee is best positioned in his or her own judgement where he or she can see all or most of the play; somewhere in the vicinity of home base and slightly behind it, and behind or beside the catcher. The referee must be in a position to judge the flight of the ball from the pitcher to the catcher, and call the pitch good or bad. a. Every effort to call a ball good or bad, cases where the referee was distracted, or the pitcher pitched too soon will be deemed as No ball calls should the referee wish.


a. Pitching, Sliotar equipment sizes. 

Sliotar sizes
Pitching Distances(M)
Under 10 boys, mixed & girls
4 (soft touch)7.5
Under 12 boys, mixed & girls
 Under 13 boys, mixed & girls
Under 14 boys, mixed & girls
Under 15 boys, mixed & girls
Under 16 boys, mixed & girls 
Minor Men, Ladies & Mixed 

Senior Ladies511
Senior Men512

b. Pitch Dimensions

(i) All ages to Under 10, 15 metres between bases making the pitch 60m through the bases.

(ii) All ages to Under 16, 20 metres between the bases making the pitch 80m through the bases.

(iii) All Minor and Senior games, 25 metres between the bases making the pitch 100m through the bases.

Artificial Surfaces for protecting pitches;

34. Pitching mats can be used according to rules set by Ard Comhairle.

35. Batters/catching box Mats can be used according to rules set by the Ard Comhairle.