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Trials and Triumphs of  a Young Pitcher
June 8, 2007  --  Issue 12
  
Better Fields for Better Play
Jim Reiner

Today I want to talk about a common problem young pitchers face.  Not about their mechanics.  Not about their fitness.  And not about their mental focus.

The problem is the mound itself and the pitching rubber. 

Because so many mounds (and fields as well) are not kept up, the mound begins to look like a bump with this white rubber thing sticking up at the top and a drop off behind it.

So, here comes a young man who wants to pitch.  He doesn't know where he is supposed stand up there or how this is supposed to work.  Neither does his dad.

First he finds out he is supposed to put the foot of his balance leg in front of, and against, the rubber.  But at the age where pitchers use the full windup, he actually steps down when he steps behind the rubber. This is very awkward and makes him look goofy.

A couple of dads and coaches have seen so many mounds like this that they actually think this is the way it is supposed to be... the rubber sticks up about three inches and there's a steep drop off behind it.

Yikes!

Who will save this young man from messing up his pitching career?  With a mound like that, he can't even begin to work on proper mechanics and mental focus.  He's fighting the very thing that is supposed to be helping him.

I bet most bullpens end up looking like this too... if not worse.

Let's say you want to fix this.  Obviously it needs more dirt.   A clay mixture is best.  But even some infield dirt mix dumped on the mound will help.  How about putting a couple wheelbarrow loads on the mound?

If you do this, do it in layers.  Water the dirt between layers to get it to pack down and stick.  Keep doing this till the dirt is level with the rubber and the mound includes a small table top area all around the rubber.  Pack it with a tamper or with the back of the field rake.

Turn what has been a trial for the pitcher into something he can triumph with.  A decent mound.  Am I obsessed with the mound? Yes.  And the batter box too.  These two areas get the most use and require the most maintenance for competitive play.

By the way, that boy and his dad who didn't know how to use the mound... that was me and my son back when he was 11.  We figured it out.  He's a college pitcher now.

Yours for better play more often,

J. Reiner

Jim Reiner
Publisher, Editor, & Groundskeeper
The Ultimate Baseball Field Renovation Guide

Check here for details about making your mound safe for your pitcher.



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