Baseball players spend a good portion of a game in the dugout. When not in the field, you’re confined to this area as you await your turn to bat. While being in the dugout might indicate a break in the action, this doesn’t mean the game pauses. You can gain a competitive edge through the fence. All it takes is a keen eye and an attentive mindset. Learn how to make the most of your time in the dugout with these baseball tips.
When waiting to approach the plate, you can still prepare for your at-bat even if you’re not immediately on-deck. Watching the action from the dugout can allow you to understand the game better and potentially give insider clues.
Former professional baseball player CJ Beatty stresses the importance of watching the pitcher from the dugout. Keeping an eye on his tendencies can help athletes decipher which pitch is coming next. This information can prove useful when it comes time to step into the batter’s box.
“I tell my guys, and I like to tell them, ‘Hey guys, listen, pay attention, stop moving. What’s going on out there? Did you notice how the pitcher, when he throws a fastball, he indicates that he’s throwing a fastball?’” he says. “’Notice what his elbow is doing, because now, when he shows the curveball […] he really digs in his glove, then that raises his elbow.’”
Looking for tendencies like these can give players insight into potential pitches. Knowing which pitch is coming can allow you to put a better swing on the ball. These tips from the dugout can make gaining that competitive edge possible.
In addition to watching the pitcher, it can also be good baseball advice to study the catcher and fielders. Tips of this nature could come into play for baserunners looking to advance.
Beatty gives the example of a catcher who might lazily toss the ball back to the pitcher between pitches. If this habit continues during gameplay, it could be a good opportunity for a delayed steal. “It might be between innings, but we never know. It could be a tip,” he says. “Why? Because if he’s dropping to his knees to throw it back, it’ll be an opportune time for us to get to second, scoring position.”
It can also help to be attentive to middle infielders when sitting in the dugout. Watch and see if they’re backing up the pitcher after each pitch. If they aren’t moving, it could be another opportune time to try and advance baserunners.
BONUS PRO TIP: Count the time it takes for pitchers to deliver a pitch. Conducting this research in the dugout can allow future baserunners to better judge their ability to steal a base in later innings.
In gathering all this useful baseball analysis from the bench, it’s important to remember one thing: baseball is a game. Pay attention to the on-field happenings, but remember to have some fun, too. Socialize with your teammates. Take a breath from the intensity. But keep an eye on what’s in front of you.
“You can talk and have a great time just like they do in the big leagues, but they do it paying attention,” Beatty says. “Having that soft focus and making sure they’re paying attention to the field.”
Opportunities for improvement are all around you in the dugout. With these Pro Tips, you can take advantage of those moments and learn a little more with each pitch.