Modern rules of Schlagball

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Rule Sets
Bloodletting lancet thumb illustration of use.png

Official Rule Sets
Early New York Club Rules
1845 Knickerbocker Rules
1848 Knickerbocker Rules
1852 Eagle Rules
1854 Unified Knickerbocker-Eagle-Gotham Rules
1856 Putnam Rules
1857 Convention Rules
National Association of Base Ball Players Rules
1858 NABBP Rules
1859 NABBP Rules
1860 NABBP Rules
1861 NABBP Rules
1863 NABBP Rules
1865 NABBP Rules
1866 NABBP Rules
1867 NABBP Rules
1868 NABBP Rules
1869 NABBP Rules
1870 NABBP Rules
Chadwick's Summary of Rules Changes, 1871
Massachusetts Rules
1858 Dedham Rules
1863 New Marlboro Rules

Published Descriptive Rule Sets
Gutsmuths' Englische Base-ball 1796
La balle empoisonnée (Poisoned Ball) 1815
Rounders 1828
Base, or Goal-ball 1834
Base Ball 1835
Feeder and Rounders, 1841
Rounders ca. 1860

Informal descriptions
Base Ball, upstate New York (1820s)
Town Ball, Georgia (1830s)
Gotham Club Rules (1837)
Baseball, Ontario (1838)
Round Ball, Massachusetts (1840s)
“A Game of Ball”, Massachusetts (1853)
Townball, Cincinnati (1860s)
Round Town, Virginia (1890s)

Related games
The Laws of Cricket (1774)
Gutsmuths' Deutsche Ballspiel
German Schlagball
Polish Palant (Pilka Palantowa)
Danish Longball (Langbold)
Russian Lapta
Swedish Brännboll (Burn-ball)
German Brennball (Burn-ball)
Norwegian Dødball (Dead-ball)
Finnish Pesäpallo
Irish Rounders
British Baseball

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Schlagball (“bat-ball” or “hit-ball”) was once very popular in schools and as an amateur club game in Germany; at its peak in the early 20th century it was even advanced as the German “national pastime" on a par with baseball in America and cricket in England. A member of the longball family, an early form was described by Gutsmuths in 1796 as the “German Ballgame;” to this day it is sometimes called simply Deutschball (“German ball”). Currently it is still played by clubs in the lower Rhine and North Sea coastal regions, especially on the Frisian islands of Langeoog and Spiekeroog, as well as in Silesia where it is recognized as the German version of what Polish-speakers call Palant.

Schlagball is an ancient sport that was one of the usual team sports from the beginning of the German gymnastics and sports movement in the 19th century, and until well after the Second World War enjoyed great popularity in Germany. Until the 1950s Schlagball was operated competitively as a gymnastic game by the German Gymnastics Federation, then taught for some years in physical education in schools. The last official German championship was won in 1954 by the Arbergen Gymnastics Union from Bremen. It has since become quieter, but far from dead.”

Game Concept

Sperr-raum exclusion zone (Schlagmal); Laufmal running crease; Schrägraum angled zone (Weitschlagfeld long-hitting field); Linienrichter line judge; Schiedsrichter umpire; Anschrieber scorer; Mittelfahne center flag; Zuschauergrenze spectator boundary.
Image from Wikimedia Commons under Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

Schlagball is a game in which two parties of 6 to 12 players confront one another. The contest is over the right to bat, and the higher score after a fixed playing time. The batting party (after Gutsmuths “the ruling party”) defends the right to bat and the field or catching party (after Gutsmuths “the serving party”) tries to win it. The batting party with their successive batters occupy the hitting crease [Schlagmal] and attempt through hits to bring their runs to the running crease [Laufmal] and back.

The fielding party (the catchers) occupy the running field [Lauffeld]] and the angled zone [Schrägraum] in any arrangement. The fielders try to catch the struck ball or pick it up, and through passing to encircle the running batters and hit them, or drive them over the boundaries of the running field, or to throw the ball back into the hitting crease to prevent the opponents from winning further points.

By successful fielding play by the catching party, with each turnover point [Wechselpunkt] in which the field party seizes the right to hit, it becomes the new batting party. In connection with the change of possession of the hitting crease, members of the new catching party can immediately plug [abgeworfen] players of the new batting party.


The game equipment is a leather ball, the Schlagball. The weight of the ball before the game is at least 70 g, not exceeding 85 g [2.5 - 3 oz.], the circumference 19 cm to 21 cm [7.5 - 8.25 in.]. The leather is not to be brightly colored because of the glare in the sunshine. The regulation ball should be red, but with the consent of both teams any color is allowed.

The bat [Schlagholz “hit-wood”], also called the “clip” [Klippe], may be any length; it must be of uniform natural wood and circular in cross section and may be at the lower end up to 3 cm [1.25 in.] thick. The handle end and the shank of the wood may be thinner and provided with a hand sling or end-knob. The bat should not be artificially weighted. Wrapping wire, leather and the like are prohibited. Each player is allowed to use his own bat. All bats placed in the play area are common.

The touch posts [Tickstangen] are inserted in the ground 10 meters from the end of the running field, 4 meters apart.

Playing field

The rectangular pitch is 70 m x 25m [76 x 27 yards], with a further long-hitting field which results from an extension of the diagonals through the pitch. The ground line is the batting crease [Schlagmal], and the opposite line the fielding crease [Fangmal]. 10 m in front of the fielding crease are two touch posts at a distance of 4 m apart. The running goals are the touch posts. Behind the pitch, the extensions of the diagonals through the pitch enclose the long-hitting field.

In Gutsmuths' rules the fielding crease is the running goal; in the newer rules there are only the touch posts.

Course of the game

A game lasts one hour, there is no break.

Batting team

The players of the batting side, in order of numbers, each put the ball into play by tossing the ball himself and attempting to hit it with the bat. Failing that, the player in question has the right to run but only when the ball is put into play validly, i.e. when the ball is hit into the playing pitch or over it into the long-hitting field.

If the ball comes out of this range to the ground again, or it rolls along the ground into the front half of the playing field from behind, then it is "dead" and there may be no running. However, when it is brought into play validly, then all players of the batting side who have earned the right to run may run. The aim of running is to run across the field to the touch posts and back again to the crease. Going and returning need not happen at once, they can also be spread over several hits. After the run, the player again receives the right to bat.

Fielding team

The fielding team is trying to catch the batted ball, or pick it up from the ground and hit a runner of the batting side. At bat, behind the ground line and at the touch posts a player can not be plugged.

2010 Island Cup: a Spiekeroog player plugs a runner from Langeoog


If this is successfully discharged, then a turnover occurs immediately. This means that the current batting team becomes the new fielding team and vice versa. While the new fielding team now spread across the pitch, the players of the new batting team as soon as possible rush to the batting crease or the touch posts, since they may be plugged otherwise, resulting immediately in another turnover.

Turnover conditions

If a fielder hits a player of the batting team with the ball, the game turns over immediately. If a player leaves the game pitch while running, he will be punished with a penalty turnover.

Scoring rules

For certain achievements individual points are awarded. There are five different ways to earn points; they are equivalent and are added to the score.

Running point

When a player on the batting team , after the acquisition of the right to run, runs to the touch posts and back to the batting crease, without in the meantime a turnover occurring, the batting team receives a running point.

Long hit point

If a player hits the ball over the pitch into the long-hitting field, thus over 70 meters, the batting team is given a long hit point.

Turnover point

If a runner is plugged by a player of the fielding team, the fielding team receives a turnover point. If the fielding team forces a turnover of the right to hit by pushing a member of the batting team out of the playing field, no turnover point is awarded.

Catch point

If the batted ball caught by a player of the fielding team directly from the air, with one hand and without bobbling [Nachgreifen], the field team receives a catch point. Catch points also may be earned off invalid hits of the batting side by catching the ball.

Penalty turnover point

If the referee imposes a penalty turnover (e.g. for unsportsmanlike conduct or for endangering an opponent by losing the bat while swinging), then the new batting team gets one point.

Tr. from German Wikipedia by W. C. Hicklin 2016