Thursday, November 4, 2010

Long Toss Throwing

"I think long toss is a great way to build your arm up, to get in shape to throw off the mound." - Greg Maddux

Long toss helps to build arm and leg strength while improving throwing accuracy. Throwing long distances - over 150 ft - can be useful to practice for fielders and pitchers. It's great to have a strong partner to throw with, but a parent can help with the workout.

My son likes to throw long toss on the local football field. It's a level turf surface and the yard markers help when moving to different throwing distances. I don't have a strong arm - after getting hit in the crosswalk by a car, so I roll ground balls underhand or hit fly balls over 40 yards. A light fungo bat helps to drive the ball straight down the field. 

Long Toss
- warm up with dynamic stretching and arm circle exercises
- use your legs and work on throwing mechanics 
- throw straight and accurate
- block the glove, moving your chest to the glove

There are two phases to the long toss program:

1) Stretching phase
- start out with easy relaxed throws at 60 ft
- focus on using good throwing mechanics
- increase the distance after two to three minutes
- listen to your arm to know the miximum throwing distance

2) Pull down phase
- start gradually moving back toward the original starting distance, in 10 yard steps
- finish throwing at 60 ft distance
- pitching velocity should be optimal at this point

A middle school pitcher's long toss program (example)

In the off-season, do this drill twice a week. It takes about 15 minutes.

Stretching phase

1. Warm up the arm by playing easy catch.

2. Throw at 60 feet for 3 minutes

3. Throw at 90 feet for 2 minutes

4. Throw at 120 feet for 2 minutes

5. Throw at 150+ feet for 1-2 minutes

Pull down phase

6. Throw at 120 feet for 1 minute

7. Throw at 90 feet for 1 minute

8. Throw at 45 to 60 feet for 2 minutes

Note: final distance can be about what you throw from the mound
LL Minors/Majors 46 ft, Bronco 48 ft, Pony 54 ft, Juniors 60.5 ft

Use the proper throwing mechanics and a limited arc on the throw. The legs and core will provide most of the power. It's fine to bounce the ball to your partner - eventually you will make stronger throws.

Crossover Long Toss Program (pdf)
This system strengthens the fast twitch muscle fibers, which is a major ingredient to improving velocity and lowering the rate of injury in overhead athletes.

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