Mound Progression highlights and coaches the steps a pitcher takes when assuming the mound. With baserunners and balks now in order, pitchers need to be taught the routine to take a sign and deliver a pitch. This can be done individually, or as a group, and follows the following steps.
EXECUTION – With each athlete at a pitching rubber or cone (or use the foul line for a group), teach the mound progression steps in-order of execution:
- Straddle – Back foot stands directly behind the pitching rubber, and the front foot is extended towards catcher (wide stance).
- Step On – Back foot moves from behind, to in-front-of, the pitching rubber.
- Look In – Get sign from catcher.
- Come Set – Front foot steps back to a position closer to back foot (feet under armpits), and hands come together in front of the chest simultaneously.
Have the athletes do this several times, taking a sign (and potentially a pitch location) from you as catcher. Deliver the pitch, receive the throw back from the catcher and reset to the straddle position. After growing comfortable with the steps, assign an athlete to lead the group. The athlete is to vocally call out the various steps and lead the groups’ actions. Each athlete should lead the group once.
OPTIONS & HOLD TIMES (*advanced*)
The second part of this drill involves the allowed options for movement after ‘coming set’. These options ARE limited, and thus coach can teach all three (as appropriate to the age-level and drill time available):
- Pickoff – Right foot, left foot, throw.
- Step Off – Back foot steps behind rubber and allows for any action.
- Pitch Home – Called “home” so as not to be confused with Pick
The final variable to discuss is the concept of Hold Times. Hold Times are defined as the amount of time taken by the pitcher after coming set, but before executing an option. These are combined with options to vary the delivery. This defends against the running game as baserunners can not predict or anticipate the pitcher’s delivery.
With the Mound Progression steps understood, and the concepts of hold timesand options understood… issue assignments to athlete leaders. Example: “Johnny, you’re assignment is to lead the group through a 3-count, pickoff movement.” That athlete must first call out the progression steps (straddle / step on / look in / come set) and then lead the assignment. In this case, this would mean verbal count of “one-thousand one, one-thousand two, one-thousand three” before executing a pickoff to first base (R / L / Throw). Each athlete should lead the group through a different assignment. Examples include:
- One-count pitch home
- Two-count pick off
- Three-count step off
- Group, Athlete-Lead, Assignments – First teach the steps. Then, have each athlete take a turn at verbally leading the group. Next, introduce options and hold times. Finally, issue assignments so each athlete leads group again… only this time there is an execution point after coming set.
- Slow Down – Explain that everything speeds up in a game. So practice holding the baseball. Count long and slow.
- Use the Group – Use the power of the group to teach Mound Progression. Athletes can look at the pitcher in front of or behind them, and get the positive benefit of peer pressure when leading an assignment.
- ISSUE ASSIGNMENTS
- ADD OPTIONS & HOLD TIMES
- GROUP MOVEMENTS
- SLOW DOWN
- GROUP, ATHLETE-LEAD, ASSIGNMENTS
- USE THE GROUP
- Baseball Buckets1
- Pitching Rubbers6