Laying Out Your Ballfield

There's more than just the foul lines...

We already talked about establishing your foul lines with a string line earlier in this module. The main points are: the string line should be anchored so your foul line will be entirely in fair territory; the foul edge of the foul line will line up exactly with the foul edge of the base; and, pull the string line as tight as possible then snap it to straighten it.

If you need more of a refresher, take a look back at Chalking & Painting Foul Lines. Now, let’s take a look at runner’s lanes, batter’s boxes, and more…

Setting up the runner's lane...

Start at the halfway point between home plate and 1st base. The line for the runner’s lane should be parallel to the foul line and 3 feet in foul territory.

This line will extend to the back corner of first base. Set your string line accordingly, and chalk or paint that parallel line. Then come back to the mid-point beginning of the runner’s lane and chalk a short perpendicular line — from the runner’s lane to the foul line.

The softball pitcher's circle...

An accurate pitcher’s circle begins in the center. Using a tarp pin (or large nail), anchor a tape measure at the front center of the pitching rubber.

Extend the tape measure toward home plate 8 feet. You will then use another tarp pin to scribe a circle with an 8 foot radius around the pitching rubber. With your circle marked in the soil, chalk or paint the line as we’ve described earlier in this module.

To speed this along, you can consider using a product like Beacon’s Streamliner Pitcher’s Circle Kit. This kit attaches to your Streamliner chalker and makes things quick and easy.

There's more than one way to chalk a batter's box...

These are the basic size batter’s boxes:

  • Youth Baseball (12 & under) 6′ x 3′, offset 4″ from home plate
  • Adult Baseball (13 & up) 6′ x 4′, offset 6″ from home plate
  • Youth Softball (12 & under) 7′ x 3′, offset 4″ from home plate
  • Adult Softball (13 & up) 7′ x 3′, offset 6″ from home plate

Click the illustrations for more detail. In every case, the back line of the batter’s box will be 3 feet from the center of home plate. Batter’s boxes should be laid out using a template or jig. Simply align the template with the back line to be 3 feet from the home plate center and scribe the outline of the appropriate box size.

To insure that you are using the right size box for your field and age group, always check the rules from your league’s governing body first. Then visit Beacon’s Online Field Dimensions Guide.

Setting up your batter's box...

The catcher's box also has some variation...

Like most field markings, the level of play determines the size and shape. This is what you need to know:

  • Youth Baseball (12 & under), extends 9′ from the back tip of home plate. These are literally an extension of the foul lines. After scribing the 45º angle lines, connect them. This forms the triangular youth catcher’s box.
  • Adult Baseball (13 & up), extends 8′ back from the apex of home plate. Measure 7″ from the back inside corner of both the right and the left batter’s box. At the 8′ mark at the back of the catcher’s box, measure 21-1/2″ away from the imaginary centerline in both directions. Chalk the sides of the box by connecting these points with the points at the back of the batter’s boxes at the 7″ mark in from the inside back corners.
  • Adult Softball (13 & up), extends 10′ from the back of the batter’s box. The catcher’s box extends from the outermost lines of the batter’s box. Scribe lines straight back 10′ and connect to form the catcher’s box.
  • NCAA Softball, same as the adult softball, only the box extends just 7′.

Like the batter’s box, scribe in the soil according to the measurements indicated and you’re ready to chalk or paint.

Review and a quick note about the coach's box...

Before you move on, let’s talk Coach’s Box. The sizes of coach’s boxes varies greatly. We recommend contacting your governing body for the dimensions and alignment to the playing field of the coach’s box.

Remember, we covered the foul lines in the “Chalking & Painting” lesson of this module, so you may want to take a quick peek back at that. Otherwise, log in to take a Pop Quiz regarding the other field markings and then you can move on to the last lesson in this module.