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So, What Should My Son Be Doing About Long Toss?

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  1. Mark Cantrall says:

    Hey Coach Lantz, My 17 year old son does his long toss program that was developed by Alan Jaeger . Arm circles, band work, a few check drills, and long toss itself, followed by a little running. We live in an area where it can get pretty cold, so my son determined that 40 degrees is the lowest temperature he throws in . We have two buckets one empty, and the other full of baseballs. Once I get out of my range to return his throws, around 125′, I’ll start putting the balls he throws to me in a bucket . I work my way back to whatever he can handle, around 250″, and then back in to 60′. He will arc the ball at the longer distances going out, but try to keep it on a line coming in . When I’m catching the last few throws I have to make SURE that I catch the ball in the webbing because he’s bringing it pretty good . All the time making sure good mechanics are adhered to . By the way I love your comment ” focus on intent” . M.C.

  2. Eric says:

    Thanks Coach. With all the technology available, I feel like it is very easy to slip into a micro-micro-managing of every muscular movement of pitching and throwing. The appearance of precision leads to the actions of making sure the pitcher/thrower is precisely right in their actions.

    Just throw! is my coaching/having a catch philosphy now. Not that is wasn’t previously but I got caught up in the mechanical precision over the intent to throw hard. I now tell my own kids to throw the ball hard(er) when we have a catch and I try to have warm-up catches with players and tell them to throw the ball hard to me when having a catch with Coach. “The day you throw so hard that I don’t want to have a catch with you is the best day of my coaching life.”

    • Lantz says:

      Eric,

      Very well said! I took the same route, I think it’s part of the coaching cycle. “Be the guy, nobody wants to throw with!”

      Thanks,

      Lantz

  3. James says:

    The ASMI conducted a study of long toss and its effects on pitchers and found that not only is long toss of no benefit to pitchers, it can cause injuries.

    Long toss puts emphasis of pitching on arm strength and pitching has nothing to do with arm strength. The trunk delivers the arm. Since pitching is a highly specialized skilled activity, why don’t pitchers practice from the mound where they will be pitching from in games? Would it make sense for swimmers to row a boat to train? Use the large muscles of the body to deliver the smaller ones. Pitching is nothing more than a kinetic chain. Learn how the chain works and you will develop explosiveness, smoothness and timing of all the parts.

    Correct mechanical problems while video taping. But if you don’t know what mechanical faults to look for or how to identify them, what good is a video camera? If your pitching coach doesn’t use a video camera, go somewhere else that does.

    • Lantz says:

      Hey James,

      Or shall I call you Dick Mills? Just kidding. Throwing a baseball has an inherent risk for injury. I don’t necessarily believe that throwing long places you at a higher risk for injury. I would disagree with your comment on arm strength. If you don’t have the necessary arm strength, you probably won’t get many chances to pitch as you progress in levels, unfortunate, but true. Velocity gives players more room for error and sooner or later, every pitcher is gauged by the gun.

      I think a point worth discussing, is that you have to throw to pitch. I think that’s where most players miss the “boat”. Video taping is a valuable tool but only if used in conjunction with other tools. As coaches, we have a tendency to “see what we want to see”, if the player doesn’t see it, it’s not happening. I advocate using video daily, but their are some side effects to video analysis as well.

      Thanks again for commenting.

      Lantz

    • Lantz says:

      James,

      You mentioned explosiveness, I’m guessing you are referring to power, correct? What is power, strength + speed? The kinetic chain you are referring to requires stability and mobility. Again, another aspect of strength.

  4. James says:

    Arm strength has nothing to do with pitching velocity. If it did, Hulk Hogan would be throwing 200 mph and Lincecum and Chapman couldn’t get the ball to the plate. And certainly my 14 year old son wouldn’t be throwing 83 mph.

    I know you mean well, Lantz, but your beliefs aren’t based on scientific facts.

    • Lantz says:

      James,

      You have a point. However, doesn’t strength come before speed? I would argue that my beliefs aren’t based on scientific facts. What’s the SAID principal? What does it state? That the body will adapt to the specific demands of the activity. Throwing forces the body to make anatomical and structural changes imposed by the demands of throwing. Hulk Hogan, doesn’t throw. Chapman and Lincecum do and they do it with the intent to throw the ball hard, right? Pitching is a skill, throwing is an ability. I’m sure your son at 14 has been throwing for a while, I’m guessing that he has intent to throw hard on a regular basis.

      I agree with getting kids on the mound frequently, again, it’s about introducing the body to the activity. Thanks for commenting, you have some valid thoughts.

      Lantz

  5. James says:

    Thanks for the willingness to discuss this, Lantz.

    True, pitching is a skill activity. Highly skilled.

    To throw with high velocity, a pitcher must efficiently use his body with correct timing of all the parts (smooth looking).

    1. One attibute of high velocity pitchers is they move fast down the mound with a long stride length while pushing off the back leg. This builds up elastic energy using the large muscle groups (legs, hips).

    2. When the front foot lands, the front leg, hip and knee must brace up to transfer the built up energy to the trunk. The throwing arm must be late and not get to a cocked position until AFTER the front foot has touched down.

    3. At front foot landing, the throwing arm must be back behind the head and torso. You call this seperation. The trunk then rotates to deliver the arm like a whip. Like Lincecum says “My arm is along for the ride”.

    So, the entire body is a kinetic chain with one group of muscles providing the input for the next group or “working the energy up the chain”.

    The arm is just the delivery mechanism and helps provide control of where the ball is to go. Too much emphasis is placed on the arm today. That’s why there are so many arm injuries. Take the approach to pitching like Koufax, Spahn, Drysdale, Gibson and others who knew how to use their bodies. Get out of the weight room and onto the mound.

    Thanks for listening.

    • Lantz says:

      James,

      I agree with most everything you’re saying, but lets discuss a bit further.

      1. Correct, tempo and momentum are crucial. The stride length is a product of momentum and tempo. It’s not the actual stride length that creates velocity, it’s the momentum and tempo that creates a longer stride. Momentum and tempo should take the credit for velocity, not stride length. stride length is a product of momentum and tempo.

      2. Therefore, stability must be present. W/o stability (strength) the chain is broken and very inefficient.

      The kinetic chain requires strength. I agree with what you’re saying. Dick Mills has found a niche, to say that strength is not a part is not true. What has the steroid era taught us? Personally, I think the body organizes itself around the timing/path of the arm action, I don’t think it’s just a frail appendage hopping on board the train waiting to be delivered.

      Right on, absolutely love the old school guys. I totally disagree with getting out of the weight room. I’ve done it too long to think that strength is not part of the equation, you’ve mentioned the kinetic chain several times. the chain requires both mobility and stability to transfer energy. Again, what did the steroid era teach us? Is strength everything, absolutely not. Again, Mills has found a niche, he’s decided to go opposite of the main stream, is it marketing? maybe? Does he have some good ideas, I think some. At the end of the day, what guys credit Mills for the being in the Big Leagues? Not knocking him, but who does he have?

      I think you have some valid points, but take a kid without the necessary strength to stabilize his body…. ie….. the center mass and see how efficiently he transfers momentum through the chain.

      Lantz

  6. Calvin says:

    I think it’s helpful in these arguments on “long toss” to break the discussion into 2 separate categories.

    The first would be true long toss. The skill the outfielders need to get a hard accurate throw from deep in the outfield to a cut-off man 200+ feet away. To get that distance, the posture of the fielder changes during the throw to get an arc on the ball to assist in the carry of the baseball. The back leg collapses so the trunk can’t point upwards.

    The second is high-velocity flat ground throwing. This would be akin to what SS’s and 3B’s do. Rifle the ball as hard as they can to a target 120 feet away on a line.

    Now, since neither of these activities are actually pitching, we need to accept them (as a pitcher) for what they are: conditioning. I don’t believe there is any disagreement that pitchers need to be on specific, regimented conditioning programs and part of that conditioning is throwing the baseball. The question then becomes, which training exercise is more beneficial to a pitcher? Provided each is done with the same intensity and velocity, the one closest to pitching mechanics (bee-line throws to a target) is the obvious choice.

    When you hear someone say, “pitchers shouldn’t do long toss”, don’t assume it means there isn’t a need for flat ground throwing. The issue for long toss is the deviation from normal throwing mechanics in order to get air under the ball for greater carry.

    Calvin

    • Lantz says:

      Calvin,

      Nice post man. This past year, some of my elite guys showed the highest velocity gains to date and never threw a ball past 90 ft.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Lantz

  7. coach ken says:

    thanks for putting this out there lantz.
    always a good subject to discuss because there is lots of confusion with peoples hard core beliefs.

    your certainly right on with core stability and strength being an important foundation for making the pitcher successful. dont think there is any point against that.
    I think james’ point was referring to the fact that the confusion for many youth coaches,instructors etc from these long toss and strength training programs falsely promotes the importance of “arm” strength building in muscle mass as the success for a high velocity successful pitcher.

    focusing on that for a youth pitchers development is the recipe for failure as that youth player goes thru and finishes his growth spurt.

    thats where alot of baseball coaches (young and old) fail to understand the huge differences in approach of developing a pre-teen little leaguer, a high school player and a young man after his body has matured thru growth the spurt.

    ken

  8. Kyle says:

    Lantern
    I think to many people don’t understand the point behind long toss. Long toss is used in my opinion to stretch the body and arm out so its ready for the acceleration phase of throwing the ball hard. I feel you need to throw the ball with an arc to help stretch the body from finger tips to the big toe.
    I feel long toss teaches you to use your whole body to throw the baseball you know as we’ll as I do that if you just use your arm you are not going to throw the ball very far.
    I’ve had a number of guys get on my long toss program and from the fall to the spring gain 6-7 mph. In long toss you learn timing you learn arm speed and also what it takes to throw the ball hard. Also getting your momentum going towards we’re you are throwing. If you can do all the phases you use in long toss and work on mechanics of pitching not throwing you can have success on the mound.

    • Lantz says:

      Kyle,

      I agree with the stretching portion and getting in touch with the arm. I would also agree that it can be used to connect the body to the arm. However, I think long toss receives credit for velocity because of the intent to throw the ball hard, what you are referring to as the acceleration phase. In all, I agree with everything you are saying but the same can be done within 90 ft.

      Lantz

  9. David says:

    Dr. Glenn Fleisig: “The best training for baseball pitching is baseball pitching. If you train from a mound at maximum effort, your muscles and neurological system would benefit. That being said, you cannot train from a mound (continually) because you would get hurt. You want a training program that is similar, but different enough to simulate pitching. A long-toss program is a good part of conditioning.”

    Is this not from the aforementioned ASMI study?

    • Lantz says:

      David,

      You may want to re-read the article, my guys long toss. However, long toss is not the end all cure all for pitchers and the primary problem is the “GENERIC” programs that’s the same for everyone. Every pitcher will be entirely different and there is NO WAY that placing limits in distance or time will be the same, nor benefit every pitcher. Total waste of time.

      Lantz

  10. Henry A Tavarez says:

    Thank you so much. I do this with my 13 year old. My father thought me this as well. Nolan Ryan Justin Verlander, bumgarner and Bauer. that’s just the names that come up off the top of my head openly admit that they have long toss for years. Notice anything in coincidence with these pitchers? The ones I named off the top of my head are capable of pitching 9 innings now you have pitchers that can’t pitch over 80 pitches because the team has fear that these underdeveloped pitchers blow their elbows. And my theory behind it is these new pitchers don’t long toss. I’m a big believer of evolution but now we have pitchers in the early 90s that were capable of pitching 9 innings now with underdeveloped arms we shut him down on the 5 and six inning. thanks again for posting this been doing this with my son for 2 years and he loves it. He’s in control of the session.

Plug your velocity leaks and see instant velocity gains. Your pitchers will FEEL it never forget it! Drills so simple anyone can use them. Good for any age.
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