The Ole Ball Game

Dugout Game Management ~ The Nuts And Bolts Of Keeping Your Dugout Running Smoothly!

Nice digs in Cincinati

Dugout game management begins here, with the empty shell, becoming a bit more complex with each added element.

As you look inside a MLB version, there is a place for everything, and everything will be in it's place. It is spacious and well planned.

While MLB is the epitimy, and it should be, the realities of youth and amateur baseball are that they run the gammit from exceptionally well designed to life in a chicken coop.

Depending upon your circumstances, it can be a real challenge to set up and maintain a functional and comfortable area to work from.

You may have no option to make changes and must make the best of what is there, turning whatever it is into a positive. That is always the case when you are traveling.

Sometimes overlooked, the dugout is one area which can reap big team dividends with careful prior planning. So much activity and interaction occurs in this area, it is always worth the effort to create a system and a rhythm to keep it all flowing smoothly, one that will adapt itself to any situation encountered "on the road".

View From The Coop

view from the chicken coop

Does the view to the right look familiar? Baseball fields were not meant to be viewed from a chainlink square. It only gets worse when the depth of the area is restricted as well.

Most of the cage type structures have two ways in and out; but there are far too many which only contain one. Exceptionally hard to maintain an even and quick flow for players on and off the field.

Is that important? More so than most would think.

While I do understand the safety theory behind fencing off the front of the dugout, I must also add that I began my organized baseball experience in the mid 50's, there were only benches at the end of the backstop to sit on.

Organizational Thoughts

One of the main aspects of a functional environment is to keep the area in front of the seating and out to the front edge, free and clear.

In some situations I have encountered, it may mean setting personal and some team gear outside, due to the limited space.

This allows for a quick and even flow on and off the field. It also enables those on the bench to quickly get a helmet, bat or catchers gear if needed in a hurry.

It is all about creating a game speed without interruption.

What Else Can You Do With The Space?

Have players designate an area to gather gloves and caps while on offense. Infielders with infielders, outfielders with outfielders. This makes it easy for players to bring gear out for someone left on base at the end of the inning.

This is also a necessity to keep the game speed flowing and the atmosphere upbeat, rather than lackadaisical.

The starting catcher should be the only player with gear in front of the seating. The bullpen catcher for the day can wear his shin guards, keep his glove and mask in a corner, where it is quickly available. He will need to warm up relievers, as well as catch the warmup pitches on the field, should the starter be left on base at the end of an inning.


Shagging Foul Balls

  1. While generally no one likes to shag foul balls, it is a necessity of life in youth and amateur baseball.

  2. One possibility is to assign a number to all players who aren't starting, and that rotation continues throughout the game. It can be as simple as numbering by where their name is positioned on the dugout lineup card. Should any of those players enter the game, their shagging position is taken by the player they replaced.

  3. This transfer can take some training; but is essential to keep that smooth return of foul balls intact. As a coach, waiting to resupply the umpire with baseballs or having to break out additional game balls to keep the flow going, is counterproductive.

Bench Responsibilities

  1. It isn't easy, but the main responsibility for players not currently in the game, is to maintain focus and game awareness. If they aren't assigned a specific task such as the pitching book or the scorebook, the focus needs to be on the game situation at the moment.

  2. By maintaing their game awareness, they are able to yell out when an opposing runner is stealing, which helps out the catcher. They can also yell out bunt, when they see the batters top hand slide up the bat. Both situations that help out the team.

  3. Closely watching the pitcher for a readable movement which can provide base runners with a little extra jump. Maybe he turns his shoulder towards first in the stretch, to better see the runner. If so, his first move to deliver the pitch will be to turn that shoulder back, that is what the runner needs to go on.

  4. See if the pitcher does anything to tip his pitches.

Game Management Tips ~ From the Dugout

game management tips ~ from the dugout

  • Dugout game management is all about creating a game tempo which eliminates long pauses in the game's flow. When those long pauses occur, the opportunity for players to lose their focus is present.
  • While the most common situation talked about for game disruption is pitcher's not throwing strikes, or taking a long time between pitches, dugout created delays are just as disruptive.

  • It helps to call attention in post game team meetings to contributions made by the dugout. Such things as:

    1. Keeping the tempo moving.

    2. Picking up a pitcher tendency to help out base runners or hitters.

    3. Alerting the catcher that a runner is stealing.

    4. Helping a player be aware of an upcoming fence or dugout while chasing a pop foul.

    5. Keeping the dugout environment positive by supporting and helping out our players.

    Cal Ripkin Sr.

    It Takes Everyone On A Ballclub To Make A Successful Team! ( Cal Ripkin Sr.)

    Additional Game Management Pages

    Game Management

    ~ Prepare Them In Practice, So Everyone Can Enjoy The Games!

    Game management players

    ~ Develop a Working Routine!

    return from dugout game management to

    Baseball on green grass


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