Product review: Jennie Finch Softball Powerline Pitching Mat

When you live North of the Mason-Dixon line, you tend to spend a good part of your fastpitch softball off-season training time indoors. While that certainly beats freezing your butt off in sub-zero temperatures, it also presents some interesting challenges — especially for pitchers.

For several years I have used a couple of different pitching mats rather than having students pitch off the floor. The mats have built-in pitching rubbers, which is good, and the one from Club K also had the powerline built into it. (The other one, a turf-type, did not, but I solved that with some line marking paint.) The trouble, though, was that they tended to slide on the turf surfaces used in batting cage facilities due to their rubber backing. I constantly had to adjust the mats to keep them lined up with the plate. I’m sure they work fine on a wood gym floor, but how many of us have access to those?

It’s not a problem anymore, though. I recently purchase two of the Jennie Finch Softball Powerline Pitching Mats with foam backs, and I have to say they’ve been acting as-advertised. The web listing claimed that the foam back would stick like Velcro to a turf surface, and by golly that’s exactly what has happened. After a week’s worth of using them in two different locations I can safely say that they have not moved an inch, even when used by some strong pitchers.

That alone made them worth the price ($215 plus $30 for shipping). But they are also good mats in other ways.

The turf surface itself is high-quality, and appears as though it will be very durable even under regular use. The bright green turf is split by a bright white powerline that makes it easy for students to see and keep themselves going straight. The mat is also thick, providing a little cushioning when landing versus the usual thin turf over concrete floors. My students have definitely appreciated that.

The transaction with On Deck Sports was smooth, and the mats were delivered within a few days. Incidentally, they come with a vinyl carrier that makes them easy to cart to and from a facility. The carrier was tucked into the center of the rolled-up mat, so you’ll want to grab it before you bring it somewhere.

Time will tell as far as durability goes. But if you’ve been struggling with keeping a pitching mat in place, I can definitely recommend this one. Just be sure you specify the foam backing.

One final word. If you watch the video demo, you’ll see Jennie Finch is illegal on every pitch she throws from it. That’s unfortunate, and I wish someone would notice and correct that. But don’t let that discourage you. It’s still a good product.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on November 12, 2010, in Equipment, Pitching. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Couldn’t get over the fact that a marketing video would use illegal form to showcase pitching mats. Do you think that’s because they thought it might subliminally get more people’s attention and sell more mats? Or, do you think it was just an oversight?

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  2. I’m sure it was either an oversight or perhaps the people who were doing the promo don’t know what the rules are. I highly doubt anyone was advocating the illegal pitch, especially since stepping off is a fairly common habit when using this type of mat. It’s something you have to watch out for. That being said, many top-level pitchers actually do this. Umpires are often afraid to call it so they get away with it. But then that encourages younger players to do it. I’m sure Jennie Finch is aware she does it. It would’ve been nice if she had been conscious of it here. I don’t think it was intentional on anyone’s part — just not paying attention to the details.

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