Played baseball for 13 years and coached little league for 7. Dan has a true passion for the game.
Do You Set Up Your Own Baseball Field?
Tips For New Youth Baseball Coaches
Baseball season in just around the corner...
What? Your park and rec department does all of this for you? You are definitely the lucky ones but for those of us less fortunate little league coaches, it is our responsibility to get the field ready for the big game.
Sunshine? Check. Ball team? Check. Laying out the field? Umm... Well have no fear. Laying out the field isn't that hard, particularly with cooperative weather.
The following information will help you not only understand the lengths of the baselines and how to measure the distance to the pitcher's mound but also give you a few tips on good tools for the job and ways to be efficient at it.
Rest easy rookie coaches, this is much easier than sorting through the rule book that reads like a legal document at times. Let the game begin!
Different Tools to Rake a Baseball Field
How to Drag a Baseball Field
Assuming the grass is already mowed, to get started setting up your field for the big game, the first thing you want to do is make sure the trash is picked up and the dirt on the field is even. Evening out the dirt is commonly referred to as "dragging". Using a tractor with some type of pull behind rake is ideal for this job. Before you get started here, note that it might be good to spray the field with a hose if it is too much like powder.
Of course, you don't want to overdo it and cause puddles but if the dirt is real powdery it will soak up the water fast. This will not only help to beautify the field but also to keep the kids from getting it in their eyes and mouth as much. We all know that dry mouths lead to heavy water drinking and heavy water drinking leads to many potty breaks. Okay, back to dragging.
Be sure the pitching rubber and bases are pulled out to make this easy and avoid tearing them up with the rake. If you have base posts buried in the ground you will want to plug them to avoid filling the holes with dirt. If you don't have plugs, be sure you have a tool to clean them out or the bases will not seat properly.
Typically driving around in circles pulling the rake behind is the chosen method but the common mistake made here is that many coaches will drag from the pitchers mound out to avoid backtracking. The problem here is that you end up pulling dirt away from the mound and out to the edges of the field. Drag from the outside in to be sure that you're not removing dirt from the field and once you've reached the mound, pick up your raking device and drive in circles on your way off the field. This way you won't ruin the work you've just done.
Common Tools for Lining a Baseball Field
How to Line a Baseball Field
Now that the dirt is nice and even, it's time to line the field. There are a few tools that will certainly help you get this done.
One tool you'll need is a long tape measure. Anything less than 50 feet is not likely to help you as much as it should.
The next tool you'll want to have ready is a long string. As you can see in the photo, I used one that is easy to see when pulling and I've wrapped it around my other handy tool, the base digger.
Okay so "base digger" isn't likely the real name for this tool but since I've never heard it called anything else, we'll go with it. This simple tool is the width of the base shaft that is buried in the ground and can easily dig out any dirt that is preventing the base from seating properly. It is very dangerous for the bases to sit up out of the dirt at all. I have personally watched as a child's hand has slid under the base when sliding and nearly get his entire hand broke when the shortstop stepped on the base. Do not assume "it's good enough" in this case.
The tool I absolutely love is the batter's box frame. With the field now drug, lining up the handle on this frame with the edge of home plate and then walking on the frame will leave you a perfect print of where the batter's box should be. This is where we start to line the field.
Last but not least is the dry line marker. This wheeled device is filled with the chalk and by pulling the lever on the side, you'll open the trap door on the bottom. As you push the marker, it will leave you a nice white chalk line on the path it follows. Just be sure to shut the door on it once your line is done.
- Chalk the batter's box on both sides. You'll add 2 lines off the back of the boxes as you'll see in the photo for the catcher.
- Pull a string from the point of the home plate to the edge of first or third base, not the corners of home plate. Leave the line pulled tight and chalk right over it. When you pull it up, it shouldn't mess up your line at all if you pull it straight up. (It's always nice to have a little help with this but if that isn't the case for you, perhaps add a stake you can pound into the ground to tie off your string.) Don't forget that the baselines begin and end at the edge of the batter's box. They do not enter the batter's box.
- Chalk in the coaches box. This is the area that the base coach is to stand in while on the field. They are not to leave this box though often we do for a high five or 2.
- Set your pitching rubber. Pull your measurement from the rear point of home plate as you did the baseline, to the front edge of the pitcher's plate, not the front of home plate.
Pitchers Mound and Base Path Measurements
One of the most commonly asked questions for a new little league coach is how long are the base paths and pitcher's mound? The table below should help answer these for you.
Little League Field Measurements
|League (Hot Stove)||Pitcher's Plate||Base Lines||Coaches Box|
HH & H
10' W x 13' L (6' from foul line)
GG & G
11' W x 15' L (6' from foul line)
13' W x 17' L (10' from foul line)
EE & E
60 feet 6 inches
15' W x 20' L (15' from foul line)
A Good Looking Baseball Field
The first thing everyone sees when they get to the field is the field. Now that you have a great looking field, your opponent may be feeling slightly intimidated since theirs is full of rocks and holes while your boys are showing up feeling good and proud of their home field.
NOTE: Speaking of rocks, have your boys check their playing area for rocks during warm ups. No one wants that bad hop to be the reason the play goes south.
With that, I'll leave you to feel proud as you get the compliments from the other coaches and parents about how good it looks. In time, you'll be rolling through this quickly and easily. Now, get out there and go over the ground rules...the first pitch is in 5 minutes!
Baseball Practice Ideas
- Fun Youth Baseball Fielding Drills
Baseball coaches are always seeking ways to improve the team. Here are a few fielding drills that keep practice fun, moving and productive along with some tips on arm soreness and field prep.
Coaching Little League Baseball
© 2012 Dan Reed
David from Idaho on May 28, 2012:
Loved the information. Prepping a field can be intimidating but it really isn't. Your information hopefully makes people more comfortable doing their first field.
Voted up and useful.