I was pitching in practice on my field and found it almost impossible to keep consistent mechanics, location, arm slot, or velocity because of the poorly maintained mound. Obviously I can’t pitch like this in a game, so what should I do?
Depending on your level of play, your coach(s) should have as basic eqt an iron garden rake which is standard issue for any pitching coach and/or a staff coach that assumes this role.
The iron garden rake can be used to “settle” the material on the mound’s surface so it’s at least workable for you.
When using the rake, DON’T make the mistake that everyone makes by raking DOWN the surface/slope and around the sides and back. ALWAYS RAKE UP THE SLOPE, SIDES AND BACK OF YOUR SURFACE.
This is as general as I can make it - given the information that you provided. Can you be a bit more specific? Are the mounds that your dealing with primarily made up of sand, or top soil(dirt), gravel, cinders?
Are these mounds - in general, flats or domes , do they allow for other kinds of play like soft ball, 10U (ten and under) ball? Are these mounds and ball diamonds on shared space - like those used for other sports?
These mounds are only use for our games. They are horrible, it’s solid, bonded, sand that you can’t move with your feet. The result? There are horrible lumps and holes on the mound that you can’t change because of how solid it is. The coaches do nothing about, yet our pitchers sometime fall over in the windup.
More often than not, the condition(s) that you described are common with dedicated lots found behind schools, athletic clubs, and so forth. Surprisingly though, the initial planning, build, and maintenance all started out on the right foot – but, usually the people who where at the helm of such an endeavor went on to other things, etc., etc., - leaving you with what you have now. The bill of materials that usually goes into a field like this are, in the beginning, very impressive and of good quality. The mound for instance that you described is probably composed of a mixture of clay, mound hardeners, mortar mix, crushed stone, sand and a moisture absorbent material – something like kitty litter. As time goes on, these materials need addressing – more or less, due to wear-n tear(use), weather, vandalism, and a host of other impositions. The mound should be covered, most of all. If not, constant use and rain, snow, ice and sun will pack these materials unevenly, causing craters, bumps, and rock-like flats.
To repair such a mound as you described is not an easy task. It requires a full weekend to attend to the basic form and contour that a mound should have for safe and manageable play. It also requires a lot of planning and willingness by those involved to start and complete the refurbishment. Some of the things that have to be done are using a garden pitchfork to turn up the ground on the mound, then hose it down to break up the chunks with a spade shovel, then when the material is of a fine dirt consistency rake the material to a mound shape and contour, then tamper it down with a heavy tamper, soak again, tamper and let dry. Readdress the following day with additional mound mix, wet, tamper down, and cover.
However, all of this work requires an understanding that you must come to grips with – in four weeks you could be right back to where you were because no has/had the concern that you have.
I’m going to make a few statements here that I want you to think about – and think you must, before running up to one or all of your coaches and start quoting chapter-section-verse of what I’m saying.
It’s not unusual for coaches to inherit such fields. That being the case, many if not all of the conditions that you just described can be totally out of their control. This can be due to a lack of money, a lack of cooperation from others in direct control of your field, a lack of knowledge, a lack of time by all parties concerned because of other issues, and so forth.
Sometime coaches who have addressed these conditions, find themselves no better off during the following season because no one took the time and effort to follow up on their hard work. I can attest from personal experience of how frustrating this can be. So, some coaches just do the best they can.
Then there’s the people element with regards to work being performed on any public or private property. If there are workers assigned to this property, and for whatever reason the property is not being addressed 100%, there’s usually an issue there that you and your teammates do not want to get involved with.
My suggestion about using an iron garden rake to refurbish your mound is – from what I read of your last post, out of the question because the surface is either too hard or you and your coach(s) are limited in using any tools of any kind. Is this a correct assumption on my? Also, if you recognize this problem(s) as basic as it/they are, how come others (kids, coaches) don’t seem to be as pro-active as you are?
---------- My attempt is to reason with you beyond the simple fixing the mound thing. Our game, expecially in the upper levels, is a lot more than just hit - run - catch - throw. ----------------------------------------
The money the coaches use come from the 120$ or so checks we give them at the beginning of the season. I have heard pitchers talk about the mound. They dont’ cover the mound ever (from what I’ve seen). Sometimes, I’ll practice on that field on the weekends and it will be in the exact same condition.
It seems that no matter how or where you turn – you’re stuck with a poor situation. Even worse, there seems to be no improvement in you plight regardless how you approach the situation.
Ok, so now where to?
Do you continue to give $ 120 bucks of somebody’s hard earned money to a group of adults that direct you to perform of this stuff? In fact, does anybody really care about fixing this situation? Have you asked your coach(s) why you have to play off of a field like this? What answers have you and the other kids gotten from these adult coaches?
On the other hand, here are some considerations that you might want to consider.
1.) Is this the only game in town?
2.) Is there no other place to compete?
3.) Is it worth your time, money and effort to play on a field(s) like this?
4) Are you improving your game and your pitching experience playing with this team?
The bottom line here is - if your stuck in a place where “ this is just how it is”, — well, then I suppose, “ it’s just how it is”. If you’re not enjoying the game because no one has the time or the interest to provide you with a decent field to play on then I strongly suggest that you find greener pastures elsewhere.
Would I tolerate that kind of field as a coach – NO. In fact, during a field review (prior to a game) a pitcher’s mound was so bad that I refused to bench with my club and advised our skipper to force relocation to another field. The potential injuries and plausible law suits that would have been on the horizon from any youngster performing off of that mound would have been a nightmare – it was that bad.
Look, somewhere along the line you have to make a decision as to your health and well being in this sport. If you really feel that you’re going to get hurt by performing off of a mound with a terrible surface,
THEN SAY SO. Don’t follow the rest of sheep. And by no means don’t let anyone –teammate or coaches throw in your direction— “you’re not a team player, if you don’t.” In short, if you’re the only one who can see the problem, then so be it. Have confidence in your own judgment. Talk this over with your parents – let them be part of your decision process. Believe me, it will help a lot.
I hope I’ve given you some direction that will help you. You’re not alone with dealing with poorly maintained mounds on many of the fields used by kids today.
I’m definetely going to bring it up with the coach and ask him about the situation. If it can’t be fixed or isn’t improved, I’ll just pitch when I’m asked to and practice pitching other places. If it just gets worse, I’ll just call attention to it once again.
I was wondering what your response was going to be??? And I’d like to compliment you on your “thinking things out” like you did. It shows that you have concern for your sport, and you honestly want to improve things rather than just walk away or go along with “business as usual”.
In addition, this is going to be an excellent learning experience for you. BUT – don’t go this alone – talk to your parents and let them know of your concerns for playing ball safely and for having the courage to speak-up and doing the right thing. This may seem like a small thing to you now – and it may even seem like no big deal. But use this experience as a learning tool for yourself on how to approach a set of conditions that may be out of your control now – but, you know how and who to contact for starting the process of correcting them. However, you must realize that sometimes no matter how hard we try – some things remain the same. The point to bemade here is that you are making a small effort to see if you can make the playing conditions better.
If you can – all the better. If you can’t – remember what stop’d the process and talk it over with your parents. Depending on your age and maturity they may be able to explain things for you that will help you as you get older.
Again, my compliments on how you reasoned out this situation.
By the way, I play on the only 60 foot diamond in the area (that I know of), so I guess it is used a lot. However, the majority of the kids in the area play on smaller fields so I don’t think it should be in bad condition. This mound is not used a lot and is not a shared field.