There’s no place better than the dugout to watch a game. Not just because it affords the best view, but because players can learn so much about the game and the opponents they are up against. As a coach or parent, you should instill a mentality that time spent on the field should be focused on the game of baseball. Let all the off-field distractions fade into the background and encourage your players to watch all the action on the field attentively.
Don’t underestimate the power of observation. Take in all the information that is readily available to you on the field.
Watch the opposing pitcher. See what pitches he is getting over the plate and what pitches he is having trouble throwing for strikes. See what kind of move he has to first base and observe how long he takes to deliver the ball to home plate from the stretch position. By paying attention, we learn what kind of lead we can get on the pitcher, whether we can steal on him or if he has the good move to first base that may cause us to take a shorter lead.
Watch your opponent’s defense. What kind of arm strength and accuracy do the infielders, outfielders and catchers have?
Look at the field’s condition. Is there anything around a specific defensive position that players should avoid? Look for areas on the field that may provide an opportunity to take an extra base in certain situations.
We can also learn a lot about our own position by watching the opposing player at the same position. What does he do well? How does he go about his job? His style may provide us with a method that we could use to make a certain play better. By the same token, his weak points may reflect our own and we will be able to have a good picture of our own faults.
When we are on the field, we want to make sure we have a strong sense of what we are going to do before the pitch is made to the hitter. From the dugout we are afforded the opportunity to gather a great deal of information before we come to bat or reach first base. The dugout also allows us to talk with teammates in regards to all of these things and again gives us a broader knowledge of the game.
Dugout chatter may seem insignificant, but it is a great way for players to learn the game. By encouraging your players to focus on the game at-hand while in the dugout, you’ll find that they pick-up on the details of the game and begin to share strategies and unique approaches. This sharing of information will help them have better at-bats and also help them become active thinkers. The players who reach the highest levels of baseball don’t simply play the game, they analyze every aspect of the game. In major league dugouts, players are always sharing information to help each other gain a competitive edge over the opponent.
One more important thing to keep in mind – your players should focus their attention on the half-inning that they’re in. Players should not be standing out on the field thinking about the last at-bat when they popped up or hit the home run. When in the dugout they should not be worrying about an error or thinking about a great play. Concentration is a great part of the game and one thought in mind can command full concentration—two thoughts naturally split that concentration. We always want to have a clear and positive mind.
And don’t forget, the dugout is also a place to pull for your teammates. It's always nice, from your own side, to hear your teammates rooting for you when you are at home plate trying to get a hit to help your club score runs.
Although experience is the best teacher there is an awful lot to be learned watching a game and no one has a better view than the people in the dugout.