Everything You Need To Know Before Purchasing Your First Portable Pitching Mound!
This is the most comprehensive guide to finding and purchasing the right portable pitching mound for your youth league team. In this expert-written guide you will learn everything you need to know about portable pitching mounds - From mound size to construction, and everything in between. If you're going to be purchasing your first mound soon, you're going to love this guide! Let's get started!
Introduction - Why You Need a Portable Pitching Mound
A portable pitching mound is a great training tool and valuable asset to any field or facility. Portable pitching mounds will save you time, money and give a competitive edge to your players for many seasons to come.
Building and maintaining a dirt pitching mound is a lot of work and requires a groundskeeper on staff. Before and after every game, the dirt mounds must be inspected and rebuilt to the specification of the league using the field. This is extremely time consuming, especially since every league has its own mound dimension requirements and some baseball fields host multiple games in a single day.
(Building a dirt pitching mound is time consuming and requires a groundskeeper on staff)
For these reasons, portable pitching mounds instantly became a huge hit in the baseball community. Shortly after the production of the first portable pitching mounds, many high schools, parks and recreation centers, leagues and even baseball parents began buying portable mounds like crazy.
Suddenly, a single baseball field could host several games in a single day, catering to the needs and specific mound dimensions of more than one league. Since most portable mounds weigh less than a few hundred pounds, it only takes a few parents or staff members to switch out the mound out for a new league team.
Pitching from a cheap mound or from a mound with the wrong dimensions can be dangerous for youth players. Some portable mounds that are built with styrofoam or wood become squishy over time and develop dead spots. These mounds are dangerous and will teach poor pitching mechanics to kids. Therefore, it is important to purchase a quality mound that will not deteriorate over time.
It is also extremely important that there is consistency with pitching mound dimensions between practice and games. If a player practices pitching from flat ground, level to home plate, then starts a game on a new field with mound that is 8” taller than home plate, they will have a difficult time adjusting, and will not pitch at their best. For optimal pitching performance, make sure that the mound dimensions remain consistent between practice and games.
Overall, a properly built portable mound will drastically improve any pitcher’s skills, promote proper pitching mechanics, create a safe pitching environment and save you time and money over the years to come.
A Brief History of Pitching Mounds
Back in the old days, pitching mounds in the MLB weren’t actually a thing. Before 1893, pitcher’s pitched from a pitcher’s box that wasn’t even elevated from the ground.
Then, after 1893, pitcher’s started to pitch from an elevated surface with a pitching rubber, which allowed them to pitch at faster speeds. This gave them an competitive advantage over the batter.
(Babe Ruth pitching for the Red Sox in 1914)
Back then, however, the mound height was not regulated. The height of the mound was up to the groundskeeper that day, meaning that the height and incline could change on any day. This provided an advantage to home teams, as the away team would not have time to adapt to their competitor’s mound size.
Nowadays, MLB mounds have to be certain height (10”) and distance from home plate (60’ 6”), creating a standard for all fields to abide by. Not only that, but the area around the pitching rubber must be flat and the downward slope must descend at a rate of 1” per foot, over 6 feet or more.
With all things considered, there are logical reasons as to why there are regulations on pitching mounds, their sizes and distances from home plate.
The same logic is true for portable pitching mounds, whether they be portable youth game pitching mounds, practice mounds or pitching platforms.
Read on and find out what you need to consider before purchasing your first portable pitching mound.
Not All Pitching Mounds Are Created Equal
Nowadays, there a lot of pitching mound manufacturer’s out there trying to get you to buy one of their mounds. They use fancy words and nice photos to try to sway you. The truth is, a lot of these mounds were made in China or built with cheap wood or even styrofoam.
When finding the right pitching mound, there are several things that you should take into consideration. Overall quality, mound type and size, age level, mound construction, and warranty are all important factors to understand when purchasing a pitching mound.
Read on and learn more as we deep dive into each of these factors that you will need to understand before making your purchase.
Choosing the Right Pitching Mound Type
There are three types of portable pitching mounds; game mounds, practice mounds and pitching platforms. Although they are all designed to improve a pitcher’s pitching skills, each has its own application.
Game Pitching Mounds
Game mounds are designed for exactly what they sound like, games and tournaments. Game mounds are portable and typically designed for outdoor use only. This means that the turf is extra durable and is usually treated with a UV resistant layer.
Why Do I Need a Portable Game Pitching Mound?
The great thing about a portable game mound is that you don’t need a groundskeeper to build a new mound for each game. This is especially convenient when there are multiple games being played on a single field in one day. Each league that plays on any given field will have different requirements for the height and distance for the mound.
Because of this, it makes the most sense to purchase a portable pitching mound. Just throw your mound down and play ball. When you’re done, load it into your car or truck and go home. No building required.
Indoor Practice Pitching Mounds
Indoor practice mounds are great for indoor facilities, like an indoor gym or indoor batting cage. Indoor pitching mounds are also portable and are designed to help a pitcher improve upon their pitching skills, despite the weather. For this reason, we recommend purchasing an indoor pitching mound during the winter months, to keep your pitching skills sharp during the off season.
A good indoor practice mound should be able to grip a slick gym floor and not move around with every pitch delivered. Some indoor mounds are rough on the bottoms and will not only move around, but will scratch a gym floor! Be sure your new indoor mound won’t scratch the gym floors and will grip well.
Another great feature that we love about indoor mounds is the two-piece design. Our favorite indoor mound brand that we carry, PortoLite, does a great job of creating the indoor two-piece design. This design allows for easy storage and portability, as well as the ability to stagger the mound, allowing the front foot more landing area (see image below).
Pitching platforms have the same features of both game mounds and practice mounds. Pitching platforms are generally used outdoors on a field as a game mound would be, but are used for practice, like an indoor mound. And, like the other mounds, the platforms come with turf or some kind of turf equivalent, and are sloped downward.
The beauty of pitching platforms is that they are generally less expensive than game and practice mounds while still offering the benefit of being lightweight and portable. Most platforms come with wheels, which makes it easy to bring on and off the field.
Now that we understand the different types of pitching mounds and platforms, let’s figure out what size mound you need!
Different Mound Sizes for Different Age Levels and Leagues
Depending on the age of your kids or the league that they play in, different mound heights will be recommended. There are no absolute requirements regarding mound height to player age, but there are general guidelines that most leagues follow.
Note: Mound height refers to the height of the top of the pitching mound relative to home plate and the base paths. Usually pitching mound heights are either 6”, 8” or 10”.
6” Pitching Mounds - Portable pitching mounds that are 6” tall are great for player ages 11 and under (11u leagues).
8” Pitching Mounds - Eight inch portable pitching mounds are popular among youth players ages 12-14.
10” Pitching Mounds - Although 10 inch pitching mounds are actually regulation size for the MLB, their portable counterparts are popular among high school, college and minor league teams as well.
If your league has no requirements for pitching mound height, these guidelines are a great place to start!
Pitching Mound Requirements by League
If your league does require that the portable pitching mound be a certain dimension, be sure to check the size specifications before purchasing your pitching mound.
Because every league has different mound dimension requirements, we figured we would do some research for our readers and organize a list of pitching mound requirements by league. Here are some pitching mound dimensions and requirements for some of the more popular leagues!
Little League pitching mound dimension requirements:
-Pitching mound height: 6” for players under 11 and 8” for players 11-13 years old
-Distance from home plate to pitching rubber: 46’
-Mound diameter: 10’
-Length of pitching rubber: 18”
Bronco League pitching mound dimension requirements:
-Pitching mound height: 6” above home plate. Pitching mound should be raised at a “gradual” slope until 6” above home plate.
-Distance from home plate to pitching rubber: 50’
-Pitching mound diameter: 12’
Cal Ripken pitching mound dimension requirements (ages 4-12):
-Pitching mound height: 6” above home plate
-Distance from home plate to pitching rubber: 46’
-Mound Diameter: 10’
Pony 14U pitching mound dimension requirements:
-Pitching mound height: 8” above home plate. The pitching mound should be raised at a “gradual” slope until 8” above home plate.
-Distance from home plate to pitching rubber: 54’
Babe Ruth Baseball League pitching mound dimension requirements (ages 13-18):
-Pitching mound height: 10” above home plate
-Distance from home plate to pitching rubber: 60’ 6”
-Mound Diameter: 18’
As you can see, each league has its own dimensional specifications for mound sizes. Be sure to get in contact with your league if your league’s pitching mound specifications are not listed above.
Important note about pitching mounds for youth leagues - Little League approved pitching mounds
Even if the pitching mound you purchase meets the size requirements of your league, it does not mean that the mound is approved for game and tournament use by the league you intend to use the mound for.
For example, Little League requires that any mound used during game or tournament be a Little League approved mound. This means that the Little League organization must state that the specific mound is approved before it can be used during a game.
Click here to check out our collection of little league approved pitching mounds!
Other size factors to consider for your pitching mound
One question that we often get about our portable pitching mounds is whether or not the mound is long enough that the pitcher’s front foot will land on the mound or on flat ground. Whether or not the pitcher’s front foot lands on the mound has a big effect on the pitch delivery and power behind the ball.
Typically, we recommend that the pitcher’s front foot lands on the mound. When the pitcher's front foot lands on the slope of the mound, the pitcher has more power behind the ball. It is also the best practice, as high school, college and MLB players pitch from a full-size mounds where the front foot will always land on the mound.
If the pros are doing it, so should your kids!
We carry many full-size mounds here. Full-size mounds are built big enough that the pitcher’s front foot will always land on the sloped part of the mound. These can be a little pricey, but are worth every dollar!
For young players under 11, it is not a big deal if the pitcher's front foot lands on flat ground. But, the sooner they start pitching from full-sized portable pitching mounds, the better!
Doing pickoffs with your portable pitching mound
Another thing to consider when evaluating the size of a pitching mound is whether or not the mound is big enough for pickoffs. If you’re looking to teach your kids how to properly do pickoffs, make sure you purchase a mound that has enough room around the pitching rubber for the pitcher to work with.
If these full-size mounds are out of the budget or just too big, don’t fret, we carry other mounds that are a bit smaller and still offer the same benefits of the full-size mounds for pickoffs.
Take a look at the Pitch Pro 796 mound, although the pitcher’s front foot will land on the flat ground, there is still plenty of room around the pitching rubber for the pitcher’s foot to work with.
Pitching Mound Construction and Durability
Now that we understand mound sizes, age and skill levels, and mound types, let’s take a look at the mounds construction. Let’s see what some leading portable mound manufacturers are building their mounds out of!
Pitch Pro pitching mound construction: Pitch Pro mounds are the most rigid and durable mounds on the market. Pitch Pro decided to go with a more rigid construction to emulate the realistic feeling of a packed dirt mound and to avoid the “dead spots” other mounds develop over time. Pitch Pro mounds are built with quality turf and finished with a UV and weather resistant coating.
Watch how Pitch Pro builds their industry leading pitching mounds!
Allstar mound construction: Our most popular mounds, AllStar Mounds, are constructed with durable fiberglass and are layered with AstroTurf. Their fiberglass makes for a lightweight and durable mound. No styrofoam or wood materials are used in the manufacturing of Allstar mounds, which sets them apart from most other pitching mound manufacturers.
PortoLite pitching mound construction: Using only the highest quality fiberglass and AstroTurf, PortoLite manufacturers some of the most lightweight and durable mounds on the market. The PortoLite mounds feature a solid, but not bouncy, cushioned landing, that closely imitates a real dirt mound and promotes a safe pitching environment.
True Pitch pitching mound construction: Another popular pitching mound manufacturer, True Pitch, produces the only pitching mounds that are actually approved by Little League for game and tournament use. True Pitch mounds also utilize high quality fiberglass and finish their mounds with AstroTurf.
These are just a few of our premier pitching mound brands that we carry. Most brands that we carry offer a high quality construction, otherwise we wouldn’t carry them!
The common denominator we found is that a durable pitching mound should be built with high quality fiberglass and a strong turf or AstroTurf. Make sure wood and styrofoam are not used in the production of the mound you are looking to purchase, as these mounds tend to fall apart and develop "dead spots" over time.
Side note about "spike proof" turf
Despite what some people may say, there is no such thing as spike proof turf. We called up the biggest pitching mound and turf companies and asked for their expertise. They all agreed there is no such thing as a spike proof mound, and that metal cleats will ruin a turf mound over time.
Metal cleats cut deep into the fibers that keep turf together and will eventually break it apart, ruining your mound. This is why turf manufacturer’s do not extend warranties to pitching mounds.
If someone tells you that their mounds are spike proof, take it with a grain of salt. What they probably mean is that the mound is spike resistant, meaning that it can resist metal spikes for a period of time, but not indefinitely.
Please be sure that only plastic or rubber spikes are used on your portable mound!
Pitching Mound Warranties - How Long is Long Enough?
Every manufacturer offers different types of warranty on the pitching mounds they make. Let’s see what kind of warranties are being offered by some of the leading portable pitching mound manufacturers!
Allstar Mounds: Allstar Mounds are manufactured right here in the USA, and are backed by a 3 year-manufacturer’s warranty on the fiberglass shell.
Pitch Pro pitching mounds: Pitch Pro mounds are backed by a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty on mound core. This is the longest pitching mound warranty we have seen in the industry so far. It’s no wonder they are so popular!
True Pitch pitching mounds: True Pitch is one of the oldest names in portable pitching mounds and offers a 6 year warranty on mound fiberglass. Backed by a strong brand name and warranty like that, you can’t go wrong!
PortoLite pitching mounds: PortoLite now offers a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty on manufacturer’s defect. With a durable design and a 10-year warranty this is a no brainer.
At the very least, we recommend a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty on any portable mound you purchase.
Note about warranty on turf
Unfortunately, there are no warranties on turf or AstroTurf. Turf companies do not extend warranties to any pitching mounds. However, we do offer some replacement turf kits for select pitching mounds.
Pitching Mound Color - What color should we pick for our field?
Typically, pitching mounds are either sold in clay or green. We have found that our clay models sell much better due to the fact that it more closely resembles regulation MLB pitching mound.
Real pitching mounds are just mounds of dirt built to a certain specification, so customers usually prefer the clay/ dirt color.
Some people prefer the green because it looks like grass and it fits in with the aesthetic of their field.
Pitching mound color is preference and is completely up to you!
Pitching Mound Safety
When looking for the right mound for your kid or youth league team, make sure that the mound is safe. One of the biggest safety concerns with portable pitching mounds is the lip on the edges of the mound. On some mounds, the edges starts to stick up over time, which can be a safety issue for the pitcher.
Make sure that the mound you purchase has tapered edges and that the lip doesn’t stick out. Any edges that stick out may get worse over time as people step on it. As the lip sticks out more, the more dangerous the mound becomes.
For safety of the pitcher and the longevity of the mound, it is a good idea to move dirt around the tapered edges of the mound to reduce the size of the lip.
Nowadays, there are plenty of quality portable pitching mounds out there to choose from, making your search for the right pitching mound as simple as ever. As we mentioned earlier, the most important things to understand before placing your order on your first portable mound are the mound types, size, age and skill level, color, construction and warranty.
A quality portable mound will last you many seasons to come and will save you time otherwise spent building and maintaining a dirt mound. Watch your kid or youth team reap the benefits of a properly built mound and develop a competitive edge over their competition over the seasons to come.
We hope you got value from this article and feel informed enough to make a buying decision on your next portable mound.
And now we'd like to hear from you:
What did you like or dislike about this article?
Do you feel ready to purchase a portable mound, or do you still have questions?
If this article helped you purchase a mound, let us know how it helped and which mound you decided to purchase!
Let us know and leave us a comment below right now!