Pre Game Checklist
Nearly all avid baseball fans have heard tales of pre game rituals past and present, famous baseball players perform(ed), such as eating the same meal before every game, or even going as far as wiping down their favorite bat with rubbing alcohol in order to keep it cool during the long hot summer.
However, there are certain Pre Game Procedures which should be followed in order to prepare for the game, and it's these unknown variables which can be frightening for a brand new Coach who will already have a 100 things spinning around inside his head. ---Pre Game Checklist
I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit it, because it was dangerous and rather stupid, but there were times I was so sub-consciously engrossed in reviewing my game strategy, I didn’t remember driving to the ball park until I actually entered the entrance.
I’m going to walk you through very simple, yet effective methods in which to prepare yourself and your team for the upcoming game. We’ll go Step by Step from home to the Umpire yelling of “Play Ball!!”
Remembering everyone has their own style and organizations may differ in operation, we’ll present a well designed Pre Game Procedure which addresses 99% of a regular youth baseball teams’ requirements.
Therefore, one or more items may not pertain to your situation, but although there is no absolute right or all inclusive method, there are Wrong methods which could result in player injury, which must be avoided.---Pre Game Checklist
After becoming comfortable and more experienced, I urge you to experiment, to develop your own particular style which sets you apart from other coaches.
All the players, parents and assistant coaches, if you have them, have No real concern about preparing for the night’s game except to get to the park on time. However, before the Head Coach, (You) pulls out of the driveway to head to the park he has already performed numerous coaching duties, which the mishandling any one item could have a negative affect on his team’s performance.
Here’s a checklist of items to address before backing out of the driveway:
1. Prepare at least a 5 gallon jug of cold water and have a package of cheap paper cups. A water container similar to what you see used by construction crews, plastic with handles, is an excellent choice. Remember, even in weather which is not scorching the players are exerting maximum effort and cold water quenches thirst better than temperate water. Buy a bag of ice and fill with tap water, it’ll be ice cold by game time.
P.S. Do not place all the paper cups out at one time because they’ll all end up on the dugout floor before the 2nd inning.
In extreme heat and humidity, like a double elimination tournament on a Saturday with a 100 degree temperature and no breeze, it’s advisable you have cold water in a metal wash tub, or similar container, separate of drinking water, with several towels or rags which the players can use to cool themselves.
You don’t have to worry about hygiene, you’re worried about Heat Stroke, and dosing heads and arms with these cold rags between innings will help immensely.---
Pre Game Checklist
Pre Game Checklist - Water Cooler Should Be Large
2. Check the Equipment Bag to insure everything is in it. Sure you haven’t touched it since the last game or practice, but maybe your player has. Perhaps he/she took the catchers mitt out to practice with a buddy and now it’s laying on his bedroom floor under some clothes. Suddenly you’re at the ball field with NO catchers mitt. Sure the other coach will probably lend you one to use, but most likely it’d be a tattered 10 year old mitt which won’t properly fit your catcher, putting him at a huge disadvantage.
3. Make sure you have your Score book and an ample amount of writing instruments. A mechanics pencil is great because if you break the point you can just click another down, but some people write with a heavy hand and can’t use this type of pencil.---Pre Game Checklist
Therefore, always have at least 2 sharpened regular #2 wooden pencils for your scorekeeper to use, and as a back up, have an ink pen available. Worse case scenario you’ll have to scratch through an entry instead of erasing it. We’re not trying to be professionals here, we’re more concerned with the score.
4. Make sure you have Game Balls. Some organizations require the Home Team to provide at least 2 New Game Balls, others an indefinite number. Some require both the Home and Visiting team provide a new game ball. Whatever the common practice of your league … be sure to have the proper type and amount of baseballs.
You’re now ready to pull out of the driveway and head to the park.
Pre Game Checklist - Without A Score Book You Are In Big Time Trouble
All teams, whether it be baseball, football, soccer or whatever, must have Team Rules in order to operate efficiently, and the older the players … the more rules, especially for traveling teams which play in out of town or state tournaments and stay in hotels. ---Pre Game Checklist
Number One Cardinal Rule:
All players are to be at the ball park and ready to play at least ½ hour before game time. You can set whatever time you wish, but I’d never go less than a half hour. There’s nothing worse than having your anticipated starting pitcher not show until 5 minutes before the game's starting time.
As the Coach, you don’t know whether to begin another pitcher warming up, (and the majority of youth teams only have 2 pitchers)
and if you do, would you start the pitcher who just began throwing or have your intended starter attempt to quickly warm up if he showed.
What do you do with your batting line up? The re-positioning of the missing player could totally realign your entire batting roster and the visiting team is screaming to exchange rosters as the game is about to begin. You don't need this type of headache and stress.---Pre Game Checklist
With the advancement of cell phones and other communication devises, today’s Coach does have an advantage their predecessors did not … mobile communication. However, stress phone calls are for emergencies only, such as a rare unexpected traffic snarl due to an accident, otherwise people will abuse the option.
Besides, there are many other reasons for being at the park early other than calming the Coach’s nerves that he can field a team. Those reasons take us to the next step.
One must take note, that for the most part, every player, coach and parent are coming to the park from another activity, whether it be school, work or the carnival. Their minds are still racing from the previous activity, the rush preparing for the game or the hectic drive.
Pre Game Checklist - Getting Mind Right On Playing Baseball
It’s imperative you calm their minds in order to focus only on the task at hand, Playing Baseball.
Any league or tournament play I’ve ever been involved with, unless it’s a championship game or a tie game, will have time limits on their games in order to maximize the amount of games played per day. The games are normally scheduled to insure the preceding game ends 15 to 30 minutes ahead of your start time in order to allow both teams infield practice.---Pre Game Checklist
Unless you are the first game of the day, don’t ever count on an orderly or timely transition from the game before you because there are just too many unknown variables. It just doesn’t seem to ever happen. Most likely the previous team will vacate the dugout, and the losers always take forever, you’ll put your equipment and accessories in it, and the Umpire will be calling the coaches to the plate for ground rules.
Never count on or wait for the proper allotted time to prepare your team for play!
It’s quite easy to realize how chaotic the situation could quickly become if you’re not vigilant and prepared to handle it. One of the worse things which could happen is trying to field a team which is not prepared to play ball, as the game could, for all practical purposes, be over in the first inning. Try spotting an equally talented adversary a 7 run 1st inning lead and try to overcome it… Not an easy task.---Pre Game Checklist
So how do we handle the situation?
Firstly, give your scorekeeper a copy of the batting roster as they’ll have to exchange it with the other team and record their roster as well. This is no small or easy task and you don't want it delayed while they're searching for you who has the roster in your back pocket.---Pre-Game Checklist
A. Take your team, and coaches, away from the activity of fans and the game. Take them down the left or right field foul line, well inside foul territory, or an area behind the backstop, an isolated area in the parking lot… anywhere to start gathering their wits and begin concentrating.
Pre Game Checklist - Warming Up After Stretching
B. Have the team perform a short routine of stretching and warm-up exercises. I personally wasn’t a fan of organized exercise, we weren’t the Marines. Simple stretching of arms, shoulders, legs and a brief running in place to warm the muscles will do the job.
C.Have the players begin throwing in order to loosen their arms, beginning with @ 70 feet, 90 feet then to whatever limits the facility sets. Always have your starting pitcher and catcher paired. As you watch the team throw, Talk to your pitcher.
“You feel OK?” ……… “Ready to go tonight?” Sometimes what a player says tells you more than watching his mechanics. If the players are young, either you or another coach should decide when he should begin warming up in earnest preparing to pitch, otherwise allow the player to decide when he’s ready.
*** A caveat here. There may be a time the baseball park has no vacant space to prepare your team. Don’t ever allow an umpire or opposing coach to force your pitcher onto the field before he’s ready. I’ve seen umpires demanding teams begin play immediately in order to remain or get back on schedule because of previous games going over the time limit. Be cordial, but Don’t allow it. It’s more than a matter of pitching well, it’s a matter of injuring the arm.
D. After they’re warmed up, gather your team in the dugout for instructions, and insist they are quiet while listening.
1. Read the Batting order… For younger kids or if you normally jumble your batting order, have the kids remember who bats in front of him. Some coaches tack a batting order up in the dugout, others carry the score book or a line-up with them. Personal preference. ---Pre Game Checklist
2. Tell the players where they are to play … Older teams become pretty well set on their defensive alignment, but younger players should be moved around for experience and to see if there’s a position they may have a natural talent for.
3. If there’s any specific instructions you want to relay, now’s the time to do it. Such as telling the players you’ll be having them steal on this catcher a lot, or calming their fears if they see that the opposing pitcher has a blazing fastball. You’ll adjust during the game as situations arise, but start somewhere.
All ball parks have ground rules and the umpire will call both coaches to home plate for an explanation of said ground rules which may include;
1.Defining what territory the ball is playable … A lot of fields have imaginary out of bounds lines as determined by the umpire…
2. If there’s an area on the field where the ball may become lodged, Wrigley Field Ivy, and how to handle the situation…
3. Mandatory slide rule is or is not enforced … etc.
4. Verify if there is a time limit and ask how it's determined. Normally the home plate umpire will have the official clock and will call out the starting time after the first pitch. Ask for the time if the umpire fails to announce it. Don't assume time doesn't mean much in baseball. It will be critical at times.
You have successfully accomplished a Great Pre Game Strategy.
1. You have All required equipment in good operating condition…
2. You have insured your players comfort and health by providing cold water and towels if weather dictates….
3. You have taken a group of mismatched, rowdy kids and have guided them into a focused and well prepared team ready for any challenge…
4. You’ve made sure your scorekeeper and the umpires are happy….
There’s nothing left to chance … nothing left to do, except … Play Ball !!
Pre Game Checklist to Learn Youth Baseball Coaching