By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

A balk is something that is always in the back of a pitcher’s mind, but many don’t know exactly what a balk is. Hopefully this article will clear this up, as well as bring up some different ways to balk that you did not know of before reading.

The definition of balk is “to stop short and refuse to go on”. In simple baseball terms, a balk is when a pitcher begins his pitching delivery, and does not finish it. There are many ways a pitcher to balk, and listed below are a few of the common occurrences.

-When coming to the set position from the stretch, the pitcher fails to come to a full stop with his hands together.

-If the pitcher throws from the rubber to a base without first stepping toward that base.

-When a pitcher throws from the rubber to an unoccupied base.

-Attempts a pickoff at first base without completing his throw. You must throw the ball to first on a pickoff to first.

-A quick pitch, meaning the pitcher tries to pitch to catch the batter off guard.

-After he begins his delivery, the pitcher interrupts his throwing motion.

-After bringing his hands together on the rubber, he separates his hands when not performing a pick off or delivering a pitch.

-The pitcher drops the ball on the rubber. Yes, it does happen.

-Spitting on the baseball.

-Rubbing a foreign substance to the ball.

These are the most common occurrences of balks. Performing any of the above will result in the base runner being awarded one base. This can be very frustrating to a pitcher, especially if they didn’t even know they balked.

Having these rules in the back of your mind may help you to refrain from balking, but the biggest thing you can do to prevent a balk is to stay relaxed. Don’t let anything fluster you. If a loud noise occurs, don’t fidget. If the base runner is getting a big lead, or tries to make to balk, don’t lose your head! Keep it cool, and let your natural baseball ability take over. Once you begin to over think things, balks may begin to occur.


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