How to Warm Up Without a Bullpen [ARTICLE]
|How to Warm Up Without a Bullpen|
|By: Coach McCreary
Provided by: Baseball By The Yard
I've written a number of posts about the need for all pitchers to warm-up properly before games. One of the biggest mistakes pitchers make is not warming up correctly. This is why many pitchers are vulnerable in the first inning of every game they pitch. Simply put, they are just not 100% from the first pitch of the game. For lots of nuts and bolts on how to specifically warm-up, check out the related posts (and their related posts) listed below.
Warming up on flat ground is never ideal but you have to make do with what you have.
Another problem that I have not addressed until now is the lack of a bullpen. On many fields, it is common for there to be no bullpen area/mound at all on which to warm up. In some cases, the field may have a bullpen but poor weather may make it unusable. When this occurs, pitchers will have to find another location. This poses a problem for pitchers who are going to throw off an elevated mound during the game but don't have one to warm-up on prior to the game. In this scenario, the pitchers are even more vulnerable in the first inning.
If a pitcher finds himself in this predicament, there are a few things that can/should be done in order to allow him to be at his best once the game starts. They are as follows:
Get the distance right. When you have to create a makeshift bullpen area, be sure you throw from the exact distance required once the game starts. The easiest way to do this is to measure and cut a rope to the exact distance you need. A rope is easy to carry in a player or team baseball bag and will always create an exact measurement. Remember that the distance is measured from the back point of home plate to the front edge of the pitching rubber.
Use a home plate. A real home plate is tough to lug around so make your own. Cut one out of a piece of carpet or rubber mat. These materials are light in weight and can be rolled up to fit in a bag as well.
Throw in the same direction. Whether or not there is a bullpen area, pitchers should get into the habit of looking at the mound and seeing what direction they will be throwing in once the game starts. Will the wind be in your face or behind you? Where's the sun? Whatever angle you will throwing in during the game is the angle you want to create when warming up if you have to create your own bullpen area.
Find a decline. When there is no mound to throw on before the game, a pitcher doesn't have the ability to get used to throwing down hill. When looking to set up a bullpen area, look around for a piece of ground that has a slight decline to it. The pitcher can position himself on the slightly higher portion and the catcher can go to the slightly lower spot. This can help the pitcher develop the feel of being on a mound and throwing downhill.
Set your sights lower. As I just said, getting the feel of throwing downhill can be tough if you are not on a mound. A common result once the pitcher gets on the game mound is that many of his early pitches are up in the zone. Knowing this, if a pitcher has to throw on flat-ground prior to the game, he should really focus on keeping the ball down low in the zone when warming up. A pitcher should always do this regardless of whether there is a mound but it becomes even more important on flat ground warm-ups.
Bring an extra ball. Or two or three. Most likely if there is no bullpen there is also no fence behind the catcher to stop a wild pitch. If a pitcher warming up misses the catcher and has to wait for someone to go run after the ball, it can make it difficult for the pitcher to get into a rhythm. It also takes a lot of extra time to be chasing after errant throws. Have the pitcher take a few extra baseballs with him just in case.
Mentally, you're on a mound. Remember when you were younger and you used to pretend you were in Yankee Stadium when in reality you were in a street, backyard, or driveway? Do the same thing when you are warming up without a bullpen. Pretend you are on a real bullpen mound. And no, it's not stupid to do so. It works and nobody knows except you that you are doing it.