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Field Maintenance

INTRODUCING YOUR FREE ACCESS TO PROFESSIONAL GROUNDS MAINTENANCE INSTRUCTION



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COACHES/MANAGERS: 

The following field maintenance instructions should be followed before and after every game and practice.  They apply for both sets of coaches (Home and Visitor teams within our league) and for all games--weeknight and weekend.  Please show respect for each other by doing your share, and to show your appreciation for the league and its players.

Please use this information to educate yourself AND your parents who help out before and after the game.  A few parents--with the best of intentions--can undo what we have tried so hard to improve. Make sure they understand the proper steps toward good field maintenance.  Ultimately, our number one goal is to provide the safest playing surface possible to ensure maximum injury reduction, along with having great eye-appeal.   

The entire process can be accomplished in 15-20 minutes.  Managers and Coaches will be responsible for ensuring the field maintenance and that the field and dugouts are absolutely clean/free of trash.

You can reach out to our field maintenance supervisor, Joe Caruso @ 518-610-1716, with any questions or if you need "on-the-job" training.  We're always accessible and willing to teach those who are willing to learn! 

Thank you--in advance--for helping keep our fields in superb shape.

The Coxsackie-Athens Little League

Field Maintenance

Determining Field Playability

The decision to play on fields that are too wet is the number one cause of damage to ball fields and the top reason for player injury. And often, techniques used to make a wet field “playable” cause additional damage. Making the tough call to postpone a game due to wet conditions is the best decision for player safety and to preserve season-long playability of the ball fields.

 

POSTPONE THE GAME!


It is easier to make up a 1.5 hour game
than to spend days repairing the field.

 

 

Water Removal Techniques

The most important mistake to avoid is the removal or movement of infield mix.  A level field will drain better and have fewer puddles.  Low spots or depressions catch and hold water EVERY TIME!

Use a pump to remove puddles.

1. Dig a hole and place the field mix out of your way.

2. Let the water drain into the low spot you’ve created.

3. Use the pump to move the water into a bucket.

4. Empty the bucket outside of the playing field into a drain.

5. Replace the field mix into the hole and level with a rake.

DO NOT Use These Methods on Wet Fields!

·         DO NOT use brooms to disperse puddles.

·         DO NOT sweep a puddle into the grass.

·         DO NOT remove muddy infield mix from the field.

All of these unfortunate techniques move infield material and leave a depression or low spot that will hold water every time it rains.

For small or shallow puddles, use a water absorbent pillow.

 

1. Allow the absorbent material to soak up the water.

2. Have a bucket nearby to wring out the pillow or sponge.

3. Empty the bucket of water off the field of play into a drain.

 

After the standing water has been removed, use a rake or nail drag to loosen the infield mix so it will dry more quickly.

Allow time to air dry. 

 

Addition of Field Drying Agents

Calcined and vitrified clay marketed under the brand names Turface, Pro’s Choice, Diamond Pro, Rapid Dry, and Profile are the most common products used to assist with wet infield conditions. These products should be used judiciously for two reasons: they are an expense to the program and they change the properties of the infield mix when used abundantly.

Steps for Applying a Drying Agent

1. First remove as much water as possible using the pump or pillow method.

2. Use a spreader, shovel, or hand to evenly apply a thin layer of the drying agent.

3. The material may be lightly incorporated using a rake or left on top of the infield mix.

 

Tarps

Tarps are extremely important to keep much needed moisture in the pitching and home plate areas that are mostly consisted of clay.  Removal and storage of tarps and weights from the mound and home plate must be done before your game or practice and put back on the fields when finished.   The carts are designed for easy setup, teardown and storage of tarps.

       

·         Fold the tarps as little as possible.  Roll instead of fold when you can.  If you must fold, use as few folds as possible.  Locate the folds in a different orientation each time you have to fold a tarp.

·         Keep the tarps as clean as possible.  Flip them periodically to allow Mother Nature to naturally clean them with rain water. 

 

Watering & Moisture Control

For the optimum playing conditions, ALL infield skinned areas (home plate area, pitcher's mound, and between 1st to 3rd bases) should be dampened BEFORE every game.  The hose--with connector and sprayer--will be at each field. 

·         Always lift the hose OVER the dirt when bringing it to/from the fence.  If the hose is drug back and forth, then the material will simply get scraped off the dirt and into the grass. 

·         Use a gentle rain-like setting to water the mound and home plate areas.  DO NOT over-water as these areas are primarily clay and do not need much moisture.

·         When you water the skinned area of the infield, along the base paths and between the bases, stand at the edge of the infield grass and water all of the dirt areas with a higher-pressure setting so it will go further. 

 

Infield Grooming Techniques

1. Remove the bases and plug the base anchor sleeve before beginning any operations.

2. Vary the dragging pattern every time the field is groomed.

3. Scarify the field with a nail drag or needle tines.

4. Finish groom the field with a drag mat or broom. Go slowly!

5. When finished dragging, stop 5 to 6 feet before the edge of the skin and lift the drag. Shake any excess field mix off before exiting the field.

6. Exit the field in a different location each time to prevent build-up of infield mix in one location.

7. Hand rake out the pile left from the field drag.

8. Hand rake: base paths end-to-end, home plate, and the back radius of the infield.

·         DO NOT pull the nail drag or mat into the grass for any reason.

·         DO NOT take a nail drag or mat within 24” of the grass edge. Only hand rake edges to prevent lips from forming.

·         DO NOT take a nail drag over home plate.

·         DO NOT drive the nail drag or mat down base paths or around home plate on baseball diamonds with a grass infield.

·         DO NOT rake across base paths.  Always rake along the base path

 

Skinned Infield Leveling

Baseball and Softball fields are designed with a specific slope to drain water from their surface. Underground drain pipes are virtually useless and rarely installed on ball fields. Keeping the infield slope correct will prevent puddling and therefore field closures. Players sliding, mechanical field groomers, and other factors contribute to un-level skinned infields. A diligent approach to correcting high or low spots is the most important task of a field manager.

For small areas, use a leveling rake.

1. Pull the material from a high spot and deposit it in a low area.

2. If the infield mix is dry, wet the leveled area and compact it with a tamper or the grooming machine tires. Otherwise, it will not stay in place.



Grass Edge Maintenance

Regular maintenance where the skinned infield meets the grass edge will prevent the formation of a lip. After wet playing conditions, the most common player injury occurs from bad ball bounces. Lips are a major contributor to this type of player injury.  Lips at the grass edge are also the primary barrier to water exiting the skinned part of the field. Water trapped on the skin will force cancellations and field closures.

Weekly Maintenance to Prevent Lips

·         Use a plastic leaf rake or push broom and move the material back into the skinned infield.Use a leveling rake to distribute the material when edge maintenance is complete.

           

·         Use a hose with a jet nozzle to wash the infield mix back to the skinned infield. Note that this method should only be performed when ample time is available for the skin to dry.



Field Lining Techniques

·         Only use “Athletic Field Marker” for foul lines and batter’s boxes on skinned infields. 

·         Only use marking paint that is specifically manufactured for turf.

·         Always use a string as a guide line.  Run a string from the point of home plate closest to the back stop, to the foul territory side of the foul pole.  In other words, run the string to the right side of the right field foul pole and to the left of the left field foul pole.  The foul territory side of first and third base should be just touching the string. Once the string has been straightened, apply the marking paint or marking lime to the infield side of the string.

·         Only use athletic field marker on skinned infields for important events.  Overuse without removal will contaminate the infield mix and cause undesirable results. 

 










IMPORTANT
!

The entire infield foul line
    should be UNDER first and third base.  
Balls that hit anywhere on the line
are considered fair play.
 


 

Field Maintenance 101

Below are videos on some general guidelines that should be used to properly maintain a baseball/softball field.
 










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