What’s the big deal about a pitcher’s mound that has everyone scurrying around like squirrels collecting acorns, in an attempt to secure the use of one for practice? I mean, it’s only 10″ high. How much difference can that make to a pitcher?
Believe it or not, that 10″ of elevation, from the pitching rubber to home plate, plays a very significant role in how a pitcher performs. The ability to push off the pitching rubber, with the leg, gaining forward momentum with the body as it learns forward and downward, increasing arm extension and arm speed affords the pitcher extra velocity on his fastball and better movement on his breaking balls.
Observe a MLB pitcher throwing warm ups from the mound in a visitor’s ball park and 9 out of 10 times he’ll make some adjustment, whether it be digging a hole next to the pitching rubber with his spikes or modifying the spot where his plant foot hits, there will normally be some tweaking of the mound. It must feel just “right” for him to be comfortable.
You have to remember, this is major league baseball which hires only the best of the best grounds keepers for maintaining the playing field, of which the mound is part of, and still a pitcher will modify it.
The importance and usage of the pitching mound really can not be over emphasized, as it’s no different than reaching the age when the pitching rubber is moved to 60′ 6″ which is a large adjustment for a pitcher, as it affects the accuracy, velocity and movement of every one of his pitches.
Knowing the impact the mound has on a teams’ pitchers it’s quite obvious leaving the availability of using it to be determined by the weather, is rather risky. There’s nothing wrong with practicing indoors in inclement weather, but having pitchers refining the pitches they will throw from a mound, on a flat surface, is similar to having right handed fielders throwing left handed.
So what’s the solution? It’s as simple as a portable pitching mound. There are many companies which sell pre-fabricated pitching mounds of all sorts, styles and prices, which obviously will do the job, but should you or your organization not be independently wealthy, you can construct an excellent portable pitching mound yourself. Depending on your carpentry skills, the project can be completed in one afternoon.
There are several web sites with detailed instructions for purchasing materials, step by step construction process and available options, such as attaching astro turf, and easy disassembled and reassembled methods.
The important issue here is not how pretty or how fancy the portable mound is, but rather the pitchers will have access to a piece of equipment which will simulate real game conditions.
Learning to pitch from a mound is similar to breaking in a new glove or hitting with a 33″ bat instead of 32″. You accustom yourself to the newest of the equipment in practice… Not game situations. You don’t want to have perfected your curveball in the gym, then try to adapt it to real life conditions in your first game outside pitching from a mound.