Laying Out A Practice Baseball Field

You’ll need to know the baseline distances for your age group and the distance from the back tip of home plate to the back corner of second base. If you know the baseline distance and have a calculator handy that can do square roots, you can figure out the second base distance yourself, or feel free to use our distance charts. We’ll use a baseline distance of 60 feet for our examples:

The formula makes use of the Pythagorean theorem (a2 + b2 = c2) and is shown below:

The distance from home plate to second base = Pythagorean theorem

Here’s how to do it:

  • Baseline = 60′
  • Square the baseline (multiply it by itself)
    60 x 60 = 3600
  • Double the square of the baseline
    (3600 x 2 = 7200)
  • Take the squre root of that number

(7200 sqrt = 84.852814)

  • The whole number portion of that distance (84) is the number of feet from the back tip of home plate to the back corner of second base. Multiply the decimal portion (.852814) by 12 for the number of inches
    (.852814 x 12 = 10.233768)
  • The distance is 84′ 10 1/4″

    METHOD ONE

The first method we’ll show you requires a long tape measure (minimum 200 feet) but is very straightforward, minimizes mistakes and requires less walking. You could also use a piece of string, knotted or marked at the appropriate places.

Step 1

Step 1. Determine the location of home plate to begin your measurements. We’ve found that driving a base stake through the hasp on the end of your tape measure and a short distance into the ground is a good way to pin the tape at this point, or you can ask a helper to hold it down for you.

Step 2

Step 2. Run your tape out to the second base distance. Mark that spot so you can find it later. While the tape is being pulled tautly at second base, you can have a helper place the pitching mound at the appropriate distance.

Step 3

Step 3. Now we’re ready for the fun part. While still at second base, roll out a measure of tape equal to your age group’s baselines times 2. For 60 foot baselines, that’s 120 feet of tape. Hold down the 120′ mark where the back tip of second base will be, have a helper find and grab the 60 foot mark on the tape and walk in the direction of first base. When the helper has taken all the slack out of the tape, both from the pegged end at home and the end you’re holding, drop first base inside the right angle formed by the tape. The outside corner of the base should be exactly at your baseline distance (60 feet in this example).

Step 4

Step 4. Have your helper, still holding the 60 foot mark, walk toward third base. When the tape gets tight again, drop third base into the angle.

Done

Step 5. Place second base with the back corner at the mark you made in step 2 and your practice baseball field is perfectly square! Easy, yes?

METHOD TWO

You can get by with a shorter tape measure for this method provided that your baselines are 70 feet or less, but you’ll do a lot more walking.

This is the method given in the official rulebook, and involves using your tape measure as a giant compass. If you remember seventh grade geometry, you’ll feel right at home with this one.

Steps one and two below are exactly the same as in the previous method.

Step 1

Step 1. Determine the location of home plate to begin your measurements. We’ve found that driving a base stake through the hasp on the end of your tape measure and a short distance into the ground is a good way to pin the tape at this point, or you can ask a helper to hold it down for you.

Step 2

Step 3

Step 3. While your tape is still pegged at home, find the baseline distance on the tape and pull it tautly toward first base. Wrap the tape around a base stake or a stick at the baseline distance, and while keeping the tape tight, scribe an arc in the dirt through the area where you think first base will be. Make this a large arc – it’s no fun having to come back later and do it again.

Step 4

Step 5. With the tape still pegged at home, scribe an arc simiar to the one you made at first base in the area of third base.

Step 6

Step 6. Move the end of the tape to the mark you made when at second in step 2 and peg it there, or get a helper to hold it. Stretch the tape toward first base and make another arc. If you were close when you made the home-first arc, this arc will intersect that one. That intersection is where you will place the outside corner of first base.

Step 7

Step 7. Pull the tape toward third base and make your last arc. Place the outside corner of third base at the point where this arc intersects your home-third arc.

Finished! Place the back corner of second base where you made your original mark at second (step 2) and your field is square.

DISTANCES