Mounds Vs Flats / Flats Vs Mounds
First things first - a pitcher’s mound is a specific piece of equipment designed for a special purpose. Its shape and dimensions serves a purpose just as does a baseball, bat, spikes, rosin, batting helmets, batting gloves, pine tar, bat weights, baselines, pitcher’s rubber, batting cage, pitcher’s protective screen, catcher’s protective gear, first baseman’s mitt, scoreboard, dugout, first and third base coach’s box, and so forth. Hence, every single piece of equipment involved in this sport has a purpose by design and, hopefully, enough care and practice with their use serves the game’s participants well.
Now here comes the rub - in fact, it’s more than just a rub, this part of our sport that shouldn’t even be a point of discussion, but it is. So, here it comes. Would you take the mound with a baseball that has no cover? Suppose the baseball is as flat as a wheaty-flake on one side, would you still use it? Or how about taking the field with only one spike on, or even better yet, take the field with wearing your spikes on the opposite feet, you know, put the left shoe on the right foot and the right shoe on the left foot?
Ok, now let’s address the question that someone asks about pitching any better off a mound verses a flat surface. Well, if we’re taking about equals here, the mound being just as dependable with its surface as a flat level ground - we first have a valid point to start from. Add to that, additional validity, the enduring process of how to properly coach and train a pitcher to use the benefits of a properly constructed and maintained pitcher’s mound, and we now have a truly equal sided discussion relative to the surfaces first, even before we take up the prime question.
To answer your question directly, absolutely better performance, quality and velocity wise, using a pitcher’s mound. In fact, any pitcher who climbs the ladder will find at one of the runners, everything comes to a screeching halt when an experienced pitching coach observes a pitcher who doesn’t truly understand how to use this equipment - mound.
So, what is the “proper” thing about pitcher mounds? When properly constructed, and maintained, this raised surface allows the human body to use the benefits of a downward slope to assist in the repetitive motion of transferring energy, via a choreograph sequence of moves called the pitching cycle, from the pitcher’s body motion - to the baseball upon release. Add to this, the pitcher’s ability to recoup himself/herself by stabilizing his/her finish. In short - not falling flat on his/her face.
But, this isn’t the end of the story. The baseball must be delivered in such a way as to dip, curve, sweep left or right, fade away or in, and/or be manipulated in countless other ways. And if that wasn’t enough, the player that has to deal with all this doesn’t have the luxury of being all that mobile up there (on the mound). There are certain rules and protocols of this sport that are pretty darn specific about can-n-can-not-do.
Try this on for size - get properly set to pitch with all the pre-stuff that you got to do. Now burn on the flat, I mean get cranked up and send down range your best rocket. Then take yourself to a mound and repeat. If you’ll be pitching off of most of the amateur mounds in circulation today, you’ll notice a five(5) to seven(7) MPH drop in your velocity (on average), and absolutely a flat out zilch in your breaking stuff compare to your performance on the flats.
On poorly constructed and maintained mounds your body will instinctively hold you back, shoot you straight up, and all kinds of other inhibitors restricting your max potential. It’s your body’s unsolicited response to keep your balance and guard against you falling. Also, if you deliberately ignore your body’s protective mechanisms, another unsolicited response from your body will kick in by sending you flying off to one side of the mound or the other, like a Peter Pan move. (That last one looks kind of funny when its put to the right kind of music.) Also, if you take video of yourself from one surface to the other, you’ll have noticeable body influences (mechanics) that’ll stick out like a road flare.