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Monday, April 11, 2011

Organize that Dugout!


It's baseball season!  

Don't tell my 'baseball lovin' husband and kids that it's NOT my favorite time of year!
(*This post contains affiliate links to help you find the products you need.  All opinions are 100% mine. No product was given to me.)


For the last 2 baseball seasons I've been 'Dugout Mom'.  Don't laugh, it's a tough job!  Have you ever tried to keep 13 baseball kids sitting still and focused in a narrow little cage with hitting sticks and one uncomfortable bench...in the rain?! (Remember we live in Seattle!) Add on top of that, making sure each kid knows their assigned field position that changes every inning, plus keeping them in their correct batting order, prepared to hit with their own helmet on, batting gloves on and bat in hand!  It's hard work!



(Thankfully, my own kids have moved up a baseball level this year, so I'm hoping I can sit on the sidelines and enjoy some games instead of managing little leaguers.)

Anyways...

A few friends have asked me to share how I made this baseball chart to keep the dugout running smoothly and quickly. (You don't want those games to last forever, do you?)


 

Having the coach yell off positions right before the players run on the field takes time, focused attention, listening skills and kids who actually know where those positions are.  Plus, finding out at the last minute who is playing catcher, and frantically trying to suit them up takes time!

Whiteboards, magnetic boards, chalkboards and clipboards don't work well in the wind and rain (and sometimes hail) around here--this is Seattle living, people!

So here it is, from one dugout mom to another...

The Solution:


A plastic-coated, pocket chart designed for classroom scheduling.  It's weather resistant and can easily be rolled up and stored in a sports bag until the next game.  Since I made my chart a few years ago, they now sell an updated pocket chart version with 3 pockets that I think would work well:  Learning Resources Daily Schedule Pocket Chart

Here's how I made my 2 column chart. (but you could easily adapt it to a 3 column chart.)

1) Take the cards designed for the chart and type out each player's name and each field position.

2) Glue names and field positions to the included cards.  Or glue the names and positions on a color of tag board that matches your team's colors.

These are the positions our league uses:
Pitcher, Catcher, 1st Base, 2nd Base, 3rd Base, Short Stop, Right Field, Left Field, Right Center, Left Center, Bench 1 and Bench 2.

3) Make the column header cards.  The right column says Batting Order, the left column says Field Positions. 

*If you have a 3-column chart, I'd use the far left column for a diagram picture of the field and a star located exactly where that particular position is on the field.


4) Be sure to laminate or cover all cards with clear Con-Tact Brand paper liner.  You need these cards to be sturdy and withstand the elements!


5) The chart comes with 2-3 hanging holes at the top.  Using a strong hole punch, make two additional holes at the bottom of the chart and 2 more holes around the center.  (I used my eyelet tool set to make the holes more secure, but this is not necessary.) 

6) Buy large metal book rings or clips:
 Metal Loose Leaf Rings 3.5-inch, 7 Pcs
Place one ring in each hole.  This allows you to hang the chart on a link fence so it won't blow away!

You could also use these 2"/5cm Carabiner Clips instead of book rings.   The carabiner clips are so helpful when hanging up the player's bat bags as well.  Get everything off the ground--is my motto!


7) Make 1 small label that says 'Batting' and another label that says 'On Deck'.  Hot glue each one onto a strong plastic clip like these magnetic clips.



Here's how the chart works:

-Arrive a bit early to the game and get the batting order lineup and field positions from the coach.  (If the coach does not plan ahead, show them the chart and they'll soon realize how much time is saved by mapping out positions ahead of time!)

-Place the players in order starting at the top of the chart moving down.  The batting order will stay the same for the entire game.  You do not need to move the names once they're set in their batting order.

-Get the 1st inning field positions from the coach.  Using the field position cards, insert them next to the correct player.

-When the team is batting, use the 'Batting' and 'On Deck' clips to show who is up to bat.  Move clips down after each player hits.

-Each time the team goes out to their field positions, quickly rearrange the field position cards for the next inning.  This allows the players to know exactly where they'll be playing next time, without having to ask!



-Dugout Moms like the chart because it keeps order.
-The kids can't 'accidentally' move or bump other player's positions.
 (This 'accidental' moving happens all the time on magnetic boards.)
-Coaches like the chart because it saves time, it really does!-Players like the chart because they can answer their own questions.


-Parents LOVE the chart...one look and they know if they have time to run to the car to grab an umbrella or a blanket before their child is at bat.





One other tip that I'm sure you dugout moms have already figured out...BINS! 

Plastic stacking bins can really help keep the player's gear (hat, mitt, gloves, water bottles and snacks) organized. I just made simple name labels for each bin and put them under the bench in their batting order. At the end of a game, I put all the baskets on top of the bench and fill them with their snacks.  (Dugout moms always carry black Sharpie pens to label hats and gear--it's a must!)

*My bins came from the Dollar Store and were quite flimsy.  Some got ripped. I suggest going with these stronger bins, and of course, in black. (Nobody has time to dust off white colored bins after each game!)

Small Ultra Basket, Black, 12-Pack  (11"x 8" x 4")


Medium Ultra Basket, Black, 6-Pack  (13.8" x 10.8" x 5")

Measure how long/deep your bench is by how many players to determine which size of bin will fit. 


Happy Baseball Season!  Stay Dry!  
I mean, Play Ball!

**One other great product to keep all the players from tripping over their bats, is this Easton Fence 12 Rack.  It hangs on a chain link fence and allows each bat to be hung off the ground.  Brilliant idea!  (Where was this when I was Dugout Mom?)

 

Here's some more great products to help organize.

If your team is a bit older and you're looking for a more 'mature' system, take a look at these products.



Need some ideas for the end-of-the-season celebration?  Click here!

Take a look at our Father's Day Baseball Celebration, too.
 Click here!















Need some baseball printable valentines?  Click here.



14 comments :

  1. Thanks for the helpful ideas. This year my
    husband is going to be head coach of our sons team and I was looking for ways to help out. He
    loves organization, so I think I will really
    be able to bless him with these ideas.
    thanks, Stephanie from Indianapolis

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad I could help, Stephanie! Thanks for your comment and have a great season!

      Delete
  2. I was team mom for many years throughout my son's baseball career. I only wish I had this idea a long time ago. I think it's a very creative and organized way of keeping things running smoothly. And you're right, being a team mom is alot of work and i loved every minute of it. Wish I could go back in time and do it again. I'm gonna pass it along for all moms with little ones.

    ReplyDelete
  3. amanda mcnamaraMay 07, 2012 8:44 AM

    Thanks for all your great ideas! We had our first T-Ball game on Saturday, and everyone was impressed with how well your suggestions worked! You are a genius!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! So glad everything worked well! Thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  4. Where can u find that organiZer. .

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank so much for this wonderful tip! For those asking I found the exact organizer shown at http://www.reallygoodstuff.com/product/scheduling+pocket+chart.do

    I'll be using the 3 column one you suggested and already my Coach is excited!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you found an organizer. Have a great season. Playball!

      Delete
  7. Michelle,

    I will be the Dugout Mom this year for my Daughter's Softball Team. This is a GREAT idea and I'm glad you shared it with me. Usually I just sit and enjoy the little girls, but organization is much needed!!! So I stepped up and hopefully it goes well with your help.

    Thanks, Murphy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure it will go well! A little organization goes a long way in the dugout. Have a great season!

      Delete
  8. I KNEW I would find a way to organize the chaos in the dugout by searching Google! This is PERFECT! Thank you so much!

    Denise

    ReplyDelete
  9. i'm a first time tee ball coach with my sister, her son is on our team... this is perfect for our team! going to Walmart today like someone suggested! thank you for the great advice!! (my sister is so OCD... any organization tip will bring out happy tears)

    ReplyDelete