Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pre Game Evaluation

You're on the bus traveling to a brand new opponent's ball park, of course you have the normal pre-game jitters, your stomach is queasy and you can't stop tapping your foot. Taking a deep breath to calm the nerves, you mentally go through your first task upon arriving, which if you think is analyzing the opposing team, you'd be wrong.
As soon as you step off the bus and walk to the dugout your senses of sight, and hearing should become acutely aware, familiarizing yourself with the environment. Familiarity, subconsciously, breeds comfort and you want to quickly become acclimated to the environment so you can focus on playing baseball.
1. Prior to beginning your warm-up tosses, slowly and carefully take a wide scan around the entire field, foul pole to foul pole, making a mental note of anything which could come into play that could affect the ball. Ask yourself a few questions as you look.
B. The most important thing to inspect is the playing field, especially the texture and make up of the playing field. Nearly all amateur ball parks have a dirt infield, but every now and then you'll run across a grass infield with sliding pits around the bases. Most importantly look at the outfield grass, is it thick or tall, as this will definitely have an impact on ground balls through the infield, such as you'll have to automatically charge a ball if the grass is high, or you may be able to stretch a hit into a double.
C. Observe the field layout including foul territories and corners. There may be a slight dip or ditch 25' outside the left field foul line, which would most likely be out of play, but if you're running full speed chasing a foul ball fly in that area, you'll need that subconscious note to pull up before falling or tripping in the ditch.
Or you may notice a weird angle at the right field foul pole area created by an awkward connection of fencing of the field and the parking lot, where a ball could get trapped in that area if it bounced a certain way.
Now that you have a mental picture of the playing field and any quirks which may cause a problem, analyze the natural conditions.
A. Wind or no wind today and if there is, which direction is it blowing? A Strong wind to a particular field, or blowing straight out from behind the plate, could cause a high fly ball to travel 10 feet or more further than it normally would, but in the case of a strong wind blowing in towards the plate, it'll hold the ball up longer and decrease distance of travel.
B. Is there a sun problem? Where's the Sun located, which of course will change during the game, but you need to know what affects, if any, the sun plays in the first inning. Is it a High Sky, where I'll need to wear sunglasses or cloudy and overcast.
*** Remember... there's a Huge Difference between Looking and Observing. ***

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