It’s taken me 16 years of hurling in the big leagues to become Major League Baseball’s winningest active pitcher, racking up over 200 wins, including 13 shutouts.

Yep, throwing strikes is tough, but with my help you won’t need anywhere near that much time to master pitching outdoors.

I’m talking tents, of course.

No, it’s not baseball, but I like to think of camping as America’s other national pastime. And a tent that’s solidly set up will help you and your companions survive rain delays, shut out the wind, and find relief from bugs and wild animals.

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So what do you say? Ready to earn your spot in this summer’s vacation rotation?

Read the Signs
Whether you’re throwing a ball or tossing up a tent, it’s always best to be on high ground.

Forests don’t have the same drainage systems as the best ball fields, so find a clearing with a gradual slope.

Not sure which way the ground dips? Drop a baseball or water bottle and watch it roll away. Then look up and check the health of all the trees within a 50-foot radius.

If you see big, dead-looking branches with no twigs on them, shift positions. Getting beaned by that lumber could be deadly.

Start Your Windup
Another way to improve your pitching is to avoid hitches in your setup motion.

Lay a ground cloth where your tent will go, and always sleep with your head uphill. (Otherwise the blood will rush to your skull, leaving it feeling pounded in the morning.)

Try to face east if you want an early start. That way you’ll wake around sunrise.

Guide your tent poles into the sleeves slowly so you don’t tear anything. Then bury each stake at a 45-degree angle away from the tent, about two-thirds deep.

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Deliver the Win
To prevent a career-ending injury, make your tent stakes extra visible by wrapping some colored tape around the top of each one.

Your highlight-reel move: Stretch a headlamp around the middle of a plastic gallon jug of drinking water.

Turn it on and then flip the LED light inward for a cool indoor lantern. Now tip your cap to the applause.

—With help from Tim Macwelch, Author of Prepare For Anything, and Chris Brauneis, a field instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School