You likely have heard of the concept of nail dragging if you have worked in baseball as a turf manager or groundskeeper. Perhaps you have been advised, “you should consider nail dragging your dirt once in a while.” Or maybe you have heard more directly, “you gotta nail drag!”
You may ask, “Why should I do that?” With proper watering, raking and dragging techniques, you can certainly have an acceptable infield surface. Working with a nail drag is about taking your infield dirt to a higher level.
► Nail Dragging: Time and field expectations
Before jumping into the details of the nail drag and what it can do for you, the questions of time and field expectations come into play.
At the professional level, the game day nail drag process can be very involved and take at least two hours, including finish screen dragging and midday watering. Time management is always very important to our success as baseball groundskeepers. In my case, game day nail dragging happens with spurts of activity, followed by breaks to answer emails or look at weather forecasts. Often on days where we have a 7pm start, I will walk the nail drag across the infield skin for the first pass of the morning starting at 9:30am. I may not be done with my mid-day watering until after 12:30pm. That does not mean I have spent three straight hours on the process. I have other items to manage within that time.
For other levels, one potential scenario for you at your facility is to start nail dragging and get the first pass in, then get away from it and work on the mound or mow some turfgrass. Following that, you can come back to the infield skin and finish from there. Keep in mind that the weather is a big part of the day for your infield skin. A sunny day with low dew points means you can nail drag earlier and faster than a cloudy and humid day. If rain is on the way, that may be a day to skip the nail dragging and just roll to firm up your skin areas, so you are ready to handle some precipitation.