Preparing and maintaining playing equipment and facilities is a continual process. Knowing what to look for and when is the right time to repair, replace, and update should always be top of mind. Use this information to enhance your league’s assessment process, and prioritize what projects take precedent. Repeat the process prior to the start of tournament play, to once again ensure that fields, facilities, and equipment are safe for use.
Fences and Structures
How have your fences fared this winter? Does your area get a lot of snow? Wind? Other weather issues as the seasons change? These are all things to consider when planning to make fixes to your facilities before the start of the season. However, it is just as important to note the wear and tear that impact a facility throughout the regular season. Make a list of things you might need to repair as the weather warms and season unfolds. Better yet, make a visit to your league’s different facilities and take note of any issues you may have noticed at the end of last season during the current year. Is anything getting worse?
Field and Facility Checklist:
- Test and assess electrical connections to lighting structures and other structures like shelter houses, dugouts, and concession stands. Pay attention to water pipes. Even with the water turned off for the winter season, pipes can still be adversely affected by the cold. Damage is also possible due the volume of use during the regular season.
- Walk the fences and check for any rust spots, breaks, holes, gaps, curling or exposed metal edges.
- Check for new holes and other trouble spots on the playing field(s). Also, check the condition of parking lots, especially unpaved areas.
- Assess the “disengage-able” bases. Check the baseplates and their anchors to be sure the pipes are secure and undamaged.
- Be sure to review the overall condition of your field and facility; and take inventory of the equipment to make sure it functions correctly and is stored properly.
Also, consider facility upgrades if your league has the funding. Some improvements that can help make your facilities safer include overhead nets for bleachers (to minimize the threat from foul balls), automated external defibrillator (AEDs), and plastic covering to protect players from sharp fence edges. Take an active approach when looking to make safety enhancements.
Equipment and Player Safety
It’s also a good time to remind parents to evaluate their Little Leaguers’ gear; and access the condition of the league’s playing equipment and training facilities. While the responsibility of field and equipment assessment was hopefully addressed during, or at the end of last season, it’s worth sending the reminder: Anything cracked or questionable should be thrown away.
Reducing waste while helping others enjoy the game is a win-win situation. Encourage parents to donate or hand down clothes that their children have outgrown or no longer wear. Wash the uniform pants or socks before donating or sharing. It’s a great way to provide the means for other children to play.
As you play through the regular season and prepare for the tournament season, remember to make a concerted effort to be mindful of the health, safety and enjoyment of everyone playing and volunteering in your league. The people and the experience are why having well-maintained equipment and facilities are essential for a successful season.