Fields at Focus
Field Maintenance Instructions
(as of 07 May 2008)
For a printable PDF copy click here.
For a PDF of the infield raking instructions and diagram click here.
COACHES: The following field maintenance instructions will be followed before and after every game. They apply for both sets of coaches (Home and Visitor) and for all games--weeknight and weekend. Please show respect for each other by doing your share, and to show your appreciation for all the time, money, and hard work that we have put into our new fields to make them the best playing surface around for your kids.
BEFORE THE GAME:
1. The field will be lined by the last team of the evening (weeknights) or day (weekends), and throughout the day as needed. If it's a weekend and you don't know if you are the last team of the day, ask yourself, "Do I see another team preparing to take the field after our game?" If the answer is "No," then it is your job to prep and chalk the field for the Monday evening games.
2. Remove and store tarp and stakes from the mound in one of the dugouts before your game warm-ups.
3. If you arrive and the field is unlined, then get the chalker from the field box (located next to the maintenance shed between the two fields); fill the chalker by the field boxes to keep (spilled) chalk off the field. Mark the batter's boxes and foul lines. String lines are in the field box with the chalker. Batter’s box templates are located in one of the dugouts. Return the chalker to the field box. The next step is very important: at this time, water the infield dirt areas, INCLUDING the lines you just chalked! If you'll lay down a gentle sprinkling and dampen the chalk, it can last up to a week. Without watering, it won't last a whole game. This will make your job easier and re-chalking faster for all.
4. Install bases (located in field boxes by maintenance shed) and place base plugs where they can be easily found by the last team of the day – typically on the table in one of the dugouts.
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. You will notice that it takes on a light pink color when dry, changing to a dark color when wet. The batter's boxes and mound will show almost no wear whatsoever by the end of the game if this procedure is closely followed. The hose--with connector and sprayer--will be at each field. The water connection is at the rear edge of the mound (Focus East Field) and at 1st and 3rd base (Focus West Field). Please lift the hose OVER the dirt when bringing it to/from the fence. Remember, there is only 1/2 inch of infield conditioner lying on the dirt. If the hose is drug back and forth, then the material will simply get scraped off the dirt and into the grass. We put a sprayer on the end of the hose to give your thumbs a rest. Please use a gentle rain-like setting to water the mound and home plate areas. When you water the skinned area of the infield, along the base paths and between the bases, stand at the edge of the grass and water all of the dirt areas with a higher-pressure setting so it will go further.
AFTER THE GAME:
1. LEAF RAKING: Immediately after each game use a leaf rake to pull the material off the grass and back onto the skin.
2. RAKING: When you smooth out the mound and batter's box areas, use the flat edge of the rake, NOT THE TOOTHED SIDE. We do not want to damage the material under the surface! Use this same method around the bases, in the sliding areas. This will keep the Infield Conditioner on TOP of the red clay, and will prevent it from getting mixed under throughout the season.
3. DRAG: If you are the last game of the day, remove the bases and replace the base plugs before dragging. We're trying to get away from the concept of raking. Raking is destructive to the playing surface; if you rake the wrong way, it develops "lips" at the grass edges that require large reconstructive efforts to remedy. There are screen drags on each field. The narrower 36" drags should be pulled from the home plate area down the base paths toward 1st and 3rd bases. The 36" or the 72" screen drags should be used for the skinned/base areas. REMEMBER THIS: If you ALWAYS pull in the direction of the base paths, and never toward a grass edge, then the "lipping" problem of dirt buildup at the edge of the infield will be greatly reduced.
4. CHALK, if necessary, for the next game. How do you know if it's necessary? Can you see the lines around the batter's box? Are you the last game of the day? Is there a team warming up after you?
5. WATERING takes place before and after each game, and at the end of each playing day.
6. TARPS: If your team is the last game of the day be sure to install the tarp for the mound. Use the stakes and hammer to ensure the tarp stays in place. The tarp, hammer, and stakes should be found in one of the field dugouts (placed there by the first team of the day).
7. If you are the last game of the day, remove the bases and put them back in the field boxes. Replace the base plugs before dragging.
Please use this information to educate yourself AND your parents who help out before and after the game. I know that you'll be conscientious about following these procedures, but even a few parents--with the best of intentions--can undo what we have tried so hard to master. 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.
We have tested these procedures ourselves, and the entire process can be accomplished within 15 minutes. If each team will have a primary and secondary person to prep the field, and allow the coaches to talk with their team and gather their belongings, then this field work can be completed quickly. Coaches will be responsible for ensuring the dugouts are absolutely clean/free of trash.
Please follow these procedures. Let us know if you have 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.