Don't you just hate those dreaded orange cones. You know the ones that are always in the way when you are headed somewhere important in the car and don't have a lot of time to spare. But they are . .. blocking your chances of arriving on time. Usually they are surrounded by workers just standing around apparently on a break.
What does that have to do with softball you ask? Great question! Actually thinking about a “construction” zone was the best way I could think of to try and help you remember the difference between obstruction and interference.
Obstruction is kind of like a construction. It's when a fielding player who is just standing around without making a play sets up orange cones to obstruct you from getting to the next base on time. But since she doesn't really have those orange cones, obstruction occurs when she sets her body in your path to the next base instead.
Interference on the other hand is when the base runner interferes with the fielding player's chances to be the hero. Not like some parents by shouting “drop it” when outfielders are about to catch their daughter's popup. Interference happens when the base runner runs into an infielder trying to field a ball that has been hit.
Like many rules in the game it's important to know these. It's also important to understand what umpires will do about them. For example if you are at second base and nobody is at first base if someone hits the ball to the second baseman and the shorts stop gets in your way while you are running to third base, obstructing you, if you continue running to third base and the second baseman throws to third base and she tags you out the umpire will likely call you safe. Because according to the rule you are entitled to the first base you were running to when the obstruction happens. But once you reached the base you were running to after the obstruction occurs there is nothing in the rule that says you are allowed to try for home plate and if you are thrown out at home you will be called out. The rule gets very interesting for everyone if you are at second base and a ball is hit through the infield and you run home after the shortstop obstructs you. You may be called out. Or you may be told to go back to third base. It will all depend on how far “out” you were. If yo u were out by 30 feet then her obstruction wasn't the reason you were called out. If you are out by 2 feet then her obstruction was probably the reason for it and they could tell you to return safely to third base. Of course different leagues have different rules and they could end up telling you to go to McDonalds if you were called out after being obstructed and make the shortstop by for your fries.
Since my articles are geared at helping offensive players all I will say about interference is that you do your best not to make contact with an infielder fielding a ground ball so that you aren't called out. Let's face it those defensive players are ugly, and their feet smell and she'd probably make an error on the play if you just leave her alone anyway.
Now back to obstruction where we are running and see how we can take advantage of the rule. I magine you were heading to a base and the fielder gets the ball and is chasing you. A rundown situation. Pickle in the middle. Whatever you might call it at your age group. She is getting really close to you and then throws the ball. Now we have an interesting situation because you will turn to run back to the base you were running to and there is a player who doesn' t have the ball obstructing you. Technically she isn' t obstructing you until you make contact with her and you could choose to run around the orange cones, I mean the player, but why would you do that. She is trying to get you out, and your job is to be safe. I'm not saying run over and stomp on her while she's down. I'm simply suggesting that if contact happens and you are out going to your base because she obstructed you, then you will be called safe. So why make life harder than it has to be, ensure she obstructs you instead of staying in the pickle until you are exhausted.
Coach Ruer has been using softball to encourage and motivate athletes for the past 15 years. Throughout the year he is a private softball instructor to many college bound athletes in the state of Georgia. He facilitates team based clinics and instructs at many elite and college recruiting softball camps. His specialties are helping players verbalize their dreams and establish a plan to achieve them and helping players overcome the fears that are holding them back from being exceptional athletes. He has produced 6 instructional DVD’s covering all aspects of how to win the short game and how to dive for the ball.