Pitching Pointers: Pitchers should always pitch from a mound, even in practice. Games are played with pitchers pitching off a mound so wouldn’t it benefit them to also pitch off a mound in practice? When pitcher’s practice for months in the off-season without using a mound, the transition back to the mound may be bumpy at first. Here are three body habits that form when pitchers practice pitching on a flat surface instead of on a mound.
- No push-off: When pitchers pitch on a flat surface there won’t be anything for them to push off with. When this happens, instead of pushing and driving, the pitcher will be forced to simply step towards the catcher. As a result, there won’t be as much behind their pitch due to the lack of leg use.
- Bad Habits/Illegal Pitches Form: The most common illegal pitch developed by pitchers who don’t practice pitching on a mound is stepping forward before beginning their pitching motion. Sometimes this happens without the pitcher even realizing it. This goes back to the point above. When there is nothing to push off of, there is limited leg use, and it is difficult to generate momentum. This is where the sneaky “step forward” and illegal pitch comes in. It’s very common for the pitcher to not even notice the extra step because they are moving forward through their pitch. A second set of eyes will be able to identify this habit. How can you fix it? Practice pitching off a mound. If that isn’t available, remind the pitcher that they can’t do that and the lead toe while on the mound needs to stay in contact with the ground at all times.
- Tough to Throw Movement Pitches: Without a mound to push off of, it can be difficult for pitchers to make their movement pitches work. This occurs because without the mound, it’s hard to get the body into the right position. Drop balls require pitchers to get on top of their pitch by using the mound to do so. Rise balls are the opposite and require pitchers to “drop back” on their pitch. It’s very difficult to get the body into the correct position by pitching on a flat surface. Horizontal movement pitches won’t suffer as much, but they may lack speed, which leads to lack of spin and movement.
Pitchers should always pitch from a mound, even in practice. It’s important for all position players on the softball field to always practice like they are playing in a game. Have you heard coaches stress the importance of making things “game like” or “going game speed”? Well pitchers are no different. You can find pitching mounds and indoor pitching mats that work on different surfaces online. Do some research and make the investment. It will benefit the pitcher and the team as a whole when season comes.