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Basic Guide to Field Preparation

checklist of jobs

  • Water the infield dirt
  • Drag the infield dirt
  • Rake the infield dirt areas near bases, batter's box, and mound
  • Chalk lines on the field
    • Batter's box
    • Foul lines
    • On-deck circles
    • (Optional) coaches boxes
    • Put away equipment
  • Insert Bases

Water the Infield

Prior to dragging, raking, and lining the infield, it is useful to water the ground to make it easier to work with.  If a sprinkler system is available, it is good to let it run for just a couple of minutes to get the dirt slightly damp.  This will lower the amount of dust that is stirred up by the drag.   If you are a parent helping out, the coach will be responsible for this.  You do not need to worry about it, although you may want to ask the coach if this is going to be done before you begin dragging and raking the field.   

Drag the Infield

Each field has a drag tool that can either be hooked up to a tractor or pulled by hand to prepare the infield dirt.  

When dragging the field, it is important to keep at least 6 inches away from the edge of the grass.  This will prevent building up a "lip" at the edge of the grass.  The development of a lip can be dangerous for players fielding a ball near the edge of the grass.  Proper care of the infield dirt will prevent this.  If dirt does end up getting on to the grass, a stiff broom should be used to brush it back onto the infield.  

Rake the Infield and Mound

Using a hand rake, areas around home plate, each base, and the mound need to be raked.  

MOUND:

When raking the mound, the goal is to repair damage done from previous use, and to get the mound ready for the game.  The following steps should be used to prepare the mound:

  1. Even out divots and holes in the landing area using the rake.  It will help if the area is lightly watered first.  
  2. Tamp down loose dirt that has been used to even out the area using the tamping tool.   
  3. Rake the newly repaired mound, raking away from the grass edge.  Avoid raking towards the grass, as this may result in the development of a lip at the edge of the grass.  

PLATE AREA:

The plate area should be prepared in a way similar to the mound.

  1.  First the area should be lightly watered.  
  2. Any divots and holes should be filled in and tamped down using the tamping tool.  
  3. The whole area around the plate should be raked into a stable, even surface.  

BASE AREAS:

The area around bases (where players will be sliding into or back to a base) should be roughed up using a hand rake. 

Chalk lines on the infield and batter's box

Once the field has been dragged and raked, lines can be drawn on the infield using a chalker.  These lines consist of at least two batter's boxes and two foul lines.   

The chalking tool consists of a wheeled hopper that can be loaded from the top with chalk.  Prior to beginning, you should check to make sure that there is enough chalk loaded into the hopper. The chalking tool usually has two levers that can be used to control the amount of chalk that is deposited.  It is only necessary to open one of these.  Opening both will result in way too much chalk being used.  

Batter's boxes can be marked using the template available at each field.  This template (see image on the right) lines up with the edge of the plate and makes an imprint in the dirt that can be used when drawing the batter's box.  

On deck circles

An on-deck circle should be drawn in the area in front of each dugout.    These should be about 5' in diameter, positioned such that they are not too close to the path between home plate and 1st and 3rd base.  

Coach's box (optional)

Normally the coach's box is drawn  near first and third base in foul territory.  (For Bantam/Midget this should be about 15' from the foul line and should be about 20' long with the outfield end lined up with the base.  For younger levels, it should be about 6' from the foul line and about 8' long.)   This is totally optional, but it gives the first and third base coaches some guidance on where they should stand.  

Foul lines

Each field has a tool for drawing the foul lines, which consists of a string or rope with a nail on one end.  The nail can be hammered into the dirt at the point of home plate.  The other end of this string should be lined up with the permanent foul line cut into the outfield grass.  (It helps if you have two people to do this job.)  The foul lines begin at the front of the batter's boxes, but actually extend all the way to the point of home plate.  (The foul lines should not line up with the outside front corners of the batter's boxes. )  Each foul line should be drawn from the front line of the batter's box along the line (string) running from the point of home plate across the outside edge of first base, until it connects with the permanent foul line cut into the outfield grass.  

Important tip:  Make sure that you stretch the line taut so that your chalk line will be straight.  Also, GO SLOW.  

Insert the bases

The final step in field preparation is to install the bases.  Each field/team should have a special "dig-out" tool that can be used to remove excess dirt from the receiver for each base.  The base can then be inserted into the receiver.   The bottom of the base should be flush with the ground when fully inserted.  

For more information on prepping the field or maintaining a baseball field, there is an excellent guide available from mlbcommunity.org.

South Okanagan Minor Baseball

Mailing Address:
#113-437 Martin St., #259
Penticton, BC V2A 5L1