Now there’s a phrase that I haven’t heard in a while - “Hooking the Rubber.”
What does it mean?
It mean allowing your spikes to catch the edge of the pitcher’s rubber with the cleats of your pivot foot - usually to get more “umph” while pushing off the rubber.
Recently, a youngster down the street was told to do so by his high school coach, or some adult acting as a coach on his high school team. The youngster asked why and how come, especially because he can’t maintain any control now using this suggestion.
There’s a ballpark within walking distance of my home, so I met him and his father on the field after a game had finished. I noticed right away that he took the mound, “as is” without as much as fixing the condition of the mound. There right in front of the rubber was a deep hole and the landing area where the stride foot would plant was another larger hole. That hole down the front of the mound was way off line to home plate.
As the youngster showed me what his coach wanted him to do, I asked him how confident he was starting off, without really going through his motion. “Not really all that confident, coach,” was his response. When I asked him what he did before, he said he just stood in the hole in front of the rubber and took things from there.
I suggested that he go back to his coach, or whoever instructed him to do what he’s doing now, and bring up the hole in front of the pitcher’s rubber. Ask him what he would suggest then?
I was surprised that neither the youngster nor his father seemed to grasp the situation of stepping in-n-out of a hole, nor did they grasp the difficulties of working off the leading edge of the rubber - by hooking the rubber, that was at least 8 inches off the dirt surface of his pitcher’s mound.
In any event, regardless of what kind of coaching one receives, if you’re going to accept a pitching surface that’ll do nothing for you, ask your coach why bother in the first place?