Somtimes, the surface condition and composition of a mound can leave a negative influence on a player that can contribute of unusual motions and movement that would otherwise not be.
I'm not suggesting that this is your specific problem - but, some players and coaches discount the efffects of visual representation and any negative representation's kicking in duirng an appearance. Also, since the feet are sensors (in part) to a confidence factor that contributes to your overall stability initially, your visual "first impressions" can be acknowledged by the look-feel-experience-repeat" process. Perform off of very poor mound compositions and surfaces enough and the body's impriint as far as constructive coaching and performance is concerned is a rough road to travel.
Below, I've tried to expalin some of the considerations that happend during an appearance when a player is performing off a poor surface, and some of the things that a player might due to improve his/her chances of having a reasonable outing.
Our sense of sight gives us a visual representation of our physical environment. Hence, if you were to see a deep hole in front of you, your natural reaction would be to avoid it. After all, you must know that stepping into a hole can be harmful to you. Right? You wouldn’t want to sprain or twist your ankle, turn your knee, or lose your balance and fall – would you? In fact, every instinct tells you to avoid this hole. Right?
Then, how come most amateurs pitchers and their coaches will allow play on a mound that has a deep hole in front of the rubber, a deteriorated frontal slope, and a gouged out hole right where the pitcher’s stride foot is suppose to land? I don’t know about you, but from where I stand, every time I see something like this my senses tell me to avoid it!
However, because these conditions are so prevalent, we do our best to make due with what we’ve got. And therein lays a host of problems – from our first pitch to our last. With respect to Sight, here’s what happening:
1. When we stand on a mound our visual interpretation of its condition starts a decision making process.
2. This process either reinforces our confidence or instills apprehension.
3. If our interpretation is positive – well, that’s that, and we’re left to concentrate on our delivery.
4. If, on the other hand, our interpretation instills apprehension, this apprehension will stay with
us pitch after pitch.
In fact, this sense of apprehension can be so strong that, subconsciously, it can force us to exaggerate our motion. Normally, most pitchers in this instance will shorten their stride, stand upright during their final delivery, stride shallow left or right, or even drop the ball out of their glove during the windup.
The picture above will drive home the point that I’m trying to make with respect to the visual effects on our work.
The first thing we see is a large, gouged hole just before the pitcher’s rubber. Our second impression gives way to the downward slope of the mound. And the last – but perhaps the most lasting observation – is the large hole where the stride foot is about to land.
Now think for a minute. Collectively, these observations are not going unnoticed. Your brain is telling you – consciously and subconsciously - d o n ’t d o t h i s! And if you’ve ever pitched off a surface like this you know exactly what I’m talking about.
So, how do we go about instilling a positive observation that will support our work? Below you’ll see a simple yet effective way of dealing with the influences of visual stimuli - especially the negative ones.
Take your baseball cleats and try your best to make a uniform surface in front of you. Smooth out and flatten out the hole next to the pitcher’s rubber. Then, go down the frontal slope of the mound and scrape and stomp your cleats on the surface so it has a smooth carpet look. When you get to the hole at the bottom of the slope, fill in as best you can, then build up that area. Be deliberate to form a raised surface here. Why? Because you’re trying to leave an impression with your visual subconscious that your stride foot will not slip out from under you when you land. I know this sounds a bit unusual but believe me, it works. Repeat this process as many times as you think necessary. Unfortunately, pitching mounds composed of sand, dried clay and lose topsoil are extremely difficult – if not impossible, to maintain.