Portable Pitching Mounds – Why Use Them?
Portable pitching mounds are used to practice baseball pitching indoors and year round in areas where the weather doesn’t cooperate. Portable pitching mounds are not only great for throwing pitches, but good for practicing strides and pick off moves to base.
What are their Ideal use? Can they used by both Kids and Adults?
Practice pitching mounds are ideal for both kids and adults. For all kids and adults the typical diameter of a practice mound is 10 feet and the size of the pitching rubber is 18 inches. The height of the pitching mound is age specific. For kids below age 11, the mound height should be 6 inches. For kids age 11-13 the height should be 8 inches. For adults, the mound height should be 10 inches.
There are several ideal uses for portable pitching mounds. One is to help convert a softball field into a baseball field. The pitching mound on a softball field isn’t raised. Inserting a portable baseball pitching mound helps to instantly change into a baseball field. Pitching mounds provide the height necessary to practice pitches in a game setting. The materials they are made of also provide the real game feel to mentally and physically practice the demands of the game.
What Materials are Pitching Mounds Made of? Do they use the same dirt as used as in real baseball fields?
Practice pitching mounds are made from a variety of different materials. Most of the heavy duty models are made from fiberglass and artificial turf which help simulate the clay feel of a real baseball field. Other smaller models, meant for kids are made with foam cores. Of course, there are ways to make a DIY pitching mound. Clay bricks are used to build up the height of the pitching mound. Mound building or packing clay are used to surround the area. Why use building or packing clay? This material contains attributes that allow for stability and construction. The attributes of mound clay are: easy to mold into shape, easy to compact and durable for high wear areas. The ability to easily compact is necessary to prepare the mound from player to player. Simulating real field conditions allows players to test out new baseball spikes and shoes, even breaking them in before an official game. The easy to mold and compact attributes of mound clay also assist what we are all use to seeing on the mound: pitchers digging around the mound to get their customized mound feel. Also, easily compacted clay can help ensure the landing areas are made as even as possible to promote consistent pitch release points and to prevent injury.
What are some of the coolest features of practice pitching mounds?
The main purpose of pitching mounds is to practice pitches and pick off moves, maintaining release points and body control . Which additionally prevent injury. Most pitching mounds are created as one unit, without separate areas for clay to provide the real feel while planting the foot. Athalonz has a cool feature with their mounds. Similar to other mounds, they are modular which allow for easier transportation and assembly. But they also feature the cool feature of having removable trays which allows players to wear real cleats and spikes. The removable drive tray has a pitching mound rubber that is 6 inches from the start of slope, which is per official baseball rules. This tray can be filled with mound clay to continue the game day feel. Check out this video which shows how the trays are filled and the clay is prepared for use. There is also a removable landing tray. The dimensions of this tray ensures that 1 inch per slope is always intact. The tray is also 3 feet wide to ensure proper form can be practiced. The Athalonz pitching mound allows for consistency in the feel of the pitchers landing area. Initially, it may not seem like that big of a deal to ensure a consistent landing zone for pitching practice. In looking at the physics, of the human body and pitching , the importance is readily apparent. An ideal body alignment has the upper pitching arm in line with the shoulder, with a 90 degree angle between the upper arm and torso. If the area around the pitching rubber or landing area are uneven, the risk of injury increases significantly. A 2 inch hole in the landing area of a pitching mound causes the pitch release point to raise, taking the upper arm and shoulder out of alignment. This causes an increase of the ideal 90 degree angle between the upper arm and torso which causes an increase in injury risk. Similarly, a 2 inch hole near the pitching rubber causes the release point to contract, which causes an angle less than 90 degrees between the upper arm and torso, taking the upper arm and shoulder out of alignment. This scenario also causes an increased risk of injury. These 2 scenarios show why proper conditioning and maintenance of pitching mounds are very important.
Are practice pitching mounds effective for other position players?
You may think that there is no need for other position players to have to practice on a pitching mound because they would never throw pitches. That is definitely not the case. Over the years, the number of position players has been rising. The number of players has steadily risen from less than 10 in 2010 to over 40 in 2018. What about those times when the team is suffering a blowout in runs? Generally, that is when you will see a position player used for pitching. I always assumed that if you are winning or losing by large margins that it would be proper protocol to trot a position player out to the pitching mound to soak up innings and save the bullpen, but baseball doesn’t disappoint in having an unwritten rule around this. Grant Brisbee from sbnation.com discusses this in his article titled “The unwritten rules of using a position player to pitch … when you’re losing big”.
Because of the increase of position players pitching in games, practice pitching mounds are definitely used by way more players than we may think, adding to the reasons to use practice pitching mounds.