Is Jaeger's Long Toss Program bad for your arm?

I just wrote a response to Alan Jaeger at ■■■■■■■■■■■.net on how his Long Toss Program is bad for pitchers arms. I was able to back up my argument with research I obtained from Dr. James Andrews’ case studies at ASMI. I know that this issue has been discussed here before but now with this research by the most respected Doctor in the game of baseball, I believe we have something to support this argument. I am curious to see what the consensus is.

http://■■■■■■■■■■■.net/the-proper-research-on-why-long-toss-is-bad-for-your-arm/

First off, I’ll say that I don’t think “Jaeger Long Toss” is much, if any, different from the type of long toss any baseball-loving kid would do with his friends. Warming up, working your way out to max distance, and bringing it back down to a more common distance seen during an actual game is not a groundbreaking concept. Truth be told, I was essentially doing “Jaeger Long Toss” long before I was interested enough in baseball to google ways to increase velocity and stumbled upon Jaeger’s name.

However, this is not to say I dislike it. I long toss pretty frequently and aside from throwing a little too much a little too early in the season, I never feel soreness or pain in my arm and I can’t recall ever having a “serious” injury.

It is tough to say where my gains have specifically came from, as it could be from physically maturing as grow/grew into an adult, working out (which I had never done up until a few months ago), focusing on really using efficient mechanics, or long tossing.

What I do know is that it hasn’t hurt me in the least, and while it may not be giving me increased velocity, it is a nice way to guarantee I’m throwing all that I’ve got in me without injuring myself.

Your using a mills’ philosophy in there. Its not really a groundbreaking find when you take somebody else’s research and stick it in there, especially when that guy hasn’t produced any successful pitchers.

It would take cases in which long toss was the diagnosed cause of a major injury before i would even consider it being damaging to somebody’s arm, at least more damaging then pitching off a mound.

I only mentioned Mill’s at the very end as someone else who is in opposition to Jaeger’s program. All of the research I am referencing is Dr. James Andrew’s and his case studies that he has documented to help prevent arm injuries.

Unless you prove that long toss will cause arm injuries no matter what, then I will listen to you. I have officially become an advocate of Alan Jaeger. He just makes sense to me. Personally I don’t like when somebody tries to impress me with science. Jaeger’s program just makes sense to me. If you have better way of building arm strength tell me. And whether people like it or not, arm strength is a key to velocity. Yes it is generated in the legs and trunk but the arm must have strength to allow that energy to go through it to the ball. I’m sure many Dominican kids would laugh at that idea of long tossing being bad.

“In the last 10 years Tommy John surgeries have increased by 700 percent in the amateur pitching market. Something is obviously wrong here.” Rick Peterson

If science doesn’t impress you then what does?

[quote=“■■■■■■■■■■■.net”]“In the last 10 years Tommy John surgeries have increased by 700 percent in the amateur pitching market. Something is obviously wrong here.” Rick Peterson

If science doesn’t impress you then what does?[/quote]

Prove that long toss causes the arm injuries.

Sure long tossing at distances above 200 feet or so are going to put extra stress on the arm, since you are forced to throw harder. But isn’t putting that extra stress on the arm in controlled amounts the goal? If all you do is throw bullpens at 80% as part of your training you may stay injury free, but you sure won’t make it farther than high school baseball.

[quote=“■■■■■■■■■■■.net”]“In the last 10 years Tommy John surgeries have increased by 700 percent in the amateur pitching market. Something is obviously wrong here.” Rick Peterson

If science doesn’t impress you then what does?[/quote]

You must prove that Long Toss directly causes injury. If you can’t then don’t go preaching againest what many professionals pitchers use to get their arm strong. And the 10 years bit, it wasn’t like Long Tossing started 10 years ago. I think its the opposite. Kids arms are treated like glass and thats what they become glass. The arm needs to be strengthened not pampered. Tom House said that kids don’t THROW enough today, which I 100% agree with. Pitchers used to pitch every other day 100 years ago and the injuries were not nearly as bad as they are today. The arm is like a muscle, you can’t not stretch it out and then go up on a mound and fire the ball. You need preperation at beyond 60 ft.

When Dr. Andrews case study says that throwing only 180 feet (aka long toss) puts varus torque on the elbow, more than from pitching on the mound, then isn’t this proof that long toss leads to a higher probability of injury than pitching on the mound at a short distance? I have had several pitchers tell me that they experienced serious elbow pain from throwing long toss as far as they can.

I am not preaching against throwing the ball 120ft but throwing the ball 275 to 300 ft is extreme and not good for the arm. I am all for throwing a lot but not as far as you can if you haven’t develop total body mechanics.

Basing a throwing program on throwing as far as you can is dangerous when we are dealing with the rotator muscle in the arm. There is safer ways for pitchers to develop velocity. I was able to increase my pitching velocity above 90 by developing fast twitch muscle fibers through explosive weight and plyometric training along with a throwing program that didn’t involve long tossing over 120 feet. This to me is a more logical approach to velocity gains.

Good to see you posting Top Velo. I’d make a coupe of observations…First, I’m impressed by the caliber of the dissenting point of view in this thread, nice honest debate by thoughtful, respectful, challenging young men, great discourse.
My personal opinion is this. Jeager is making a reasonable point and it is reasonable to look to extend the limits. I would suggest that many approaches are reasonable, based on an educated, goals oriented methodology.
Long Toss per say as an additive factor in potential injury isnt too much of a stretch I guess. I would suggest other factors, for example; long term over-use and under rest, as more to the heart of the matter.
I’d also observe that for me…personally, I tend to get real immune to those who wish to substantiate validity by illustrating the negative of something or someone elses program instead of what the positive program in which you subscribe to, can do for my self, student, son. Bring what you got, if it has truth it will prosper. As I mentioned to Mills, I get that you dont like a drill…what do you recommend in order to maintain health and develop hi level stuff?
Long toss for me has always been part of the fun of playing catch. If you arent in enough control of your body to not injure yourself extending your body in that way…dont do it, if you, Top Velo or anyone else really…feel you have a better approach a kid in a neighborhood without access to anything more than a field after school and chores lets hear it.

jdfromfla thanks for having me!

Good point! My approach to velocity is fast twitch muscle fiber. You can develop it through long toss if you have total body mechanics. If you are using more arm, which tends to happen when you are throwing the ball 180 feet plus based on Dr. Andrews’ case studies, then this is NOT going to be as effective in developing fast twitch muscle fibers in the bigger muscle groups like the legs and core.

I use medicine balls to add resistance to my two handed throwing drills, focusing on speed more than weight, which force the body to recruit more muscle fibers during the throw. I then work to transfer this big muscle group muscle memory to the 5 ounce baseball.

The main reason for my out of the box approach to velocity is because I was forced to find an alternative to the old school philosophy of throwing the crap out of the baseball to strengthen the arm because I torn my supraspinatus muscle pitching in college at 19 years old. I was able to overcome this injury and reach 94 mph 5 years later because I took the stress off of my arm and learned to use my total body along with remodeling my big muscle groups with more fast twitch muscle fibers.

i never really understood the argument that the arm is “along for the ride” and doesn’t do any work in the throw.

go outside and try (actually TRY) to throw the ball without using the internal rotators of your arm to assist the throw. It’s not physically possible.

Interesting how 50%+ of velocity can be produced just by isolating the throw to the shoulder to fingertips, and 25% can be produced by isolating the throw to the elbow-fingertips.

again, if you doubt that the arm plays a crucial role in throwing the ball, go outside and try to throw the ball without activating the internal rotators of the arm. The forearm would become rubber and absolutely none of the force built up in the rest of the body would be transferred, not to mention the force that the arm can generate independently.

how is Jaeger’s program unsafe? Dominicans have been doing it for a hundred years, just like players used to in the US before baseball became modernized. Don’t throw around BS statistics such as “arm injuries have increased in the US…” without showing how that is connected to what you are arguing.

LankyLefty the statement from this argument that the arm doesn’t throw the ball is not to be taken literally. The arm actually does throw the ball and I didn’t have to go outside and test this out. The point being made is that the arm most effectively transfers momentum from the toes to finger tips when the arm is relaxed and able to completely externally rotate as the chest drives forward. This external rotation builds elastic energy in the anterior of the pitching shoulder. This energy when released will launch the arm towards the target. The forearm must assists this energy and guide the pitch. It also can add to the velocity of the ball at release.

This is different then wiping the arm out of the glove behind the head and then wiping the arm across the body to release the pitch.

“before baseball became modernized…”

What is the deal with hating modern baseball? What have we lost? I have only seen gains. All the home run records have been demolished. 100 mph fastballs are being tossed around like candy and the competition around the world is making the MLB look bad. Just because we have to do our homework in today’s day and age doesn’t mean baseball sucks!

The statement “arm injuries have increased in the US…” wasn’t mine it was Rick Peterson. This is Dr. Andrews’ connection to the MLB. This statement has relevance because this is the reason for Dr. Andrews’ case studies at ASMI. He is trying to discover why his business of cutting on baseball players is growing more lucrative when health science is getting better. I just pointed his research to extreme throwing programs like Alan Jaeger’s long toss program for the purpose of my article.

Makes sense. excellent response, the kind of well thought out debate I like to see here at ltp

Just a thought, but felt I should throw this out there based on the whole “10 year ameteur injury rate” quote. What’s been a major advent in pitching over the past 10-20 years? Weightlifting. It was once thought that lifting was bad for a pitcher, now its generally accepted that strength training is helpful for throwing harder. Now I’m not trying to raise a point against strength training, I fully advocate it. I’m pointing a finger at the whole “No free weights for pitchers” mantra that I hear all the time i.e “Lets work out big muscles while stagnating our ligaments, tendons, and stablizer muscles” Pitchers don’t bench or squat, they do chest press and leg press. Theres nothing wrong with these movements, I just feel that its detrimental for a full body movement such as pitching to have trained muscles individually and not grown the stablizer muscles in the same way the larger muscles were.

Just my two cents, I know its not actually about long toss but that quote caught my eye.

Edit- I’d also like to point out the irony of Dick Mills using Tim Lincecum, a well known advocate of long toss, who has been known to long toss over 300 feet, as an example in the argument AGAINST long toss.

LankyLefty thanks for the comp. This is a great forum!

FSTBLLTHRWER good point but in my experience I torn my rotator cuff before I started a lifting program. I also am from Louisiana and a legend from this area is Ben McDonald. He went to LSU and was No. 1 overall in 1989 and a strong advocate of long toss. He torn his rotator cuff in major league ball 3 times over a nine year career before he hung it up. He didn’t lift weights much at all either.

If you do not know much about Ben McDonald this is a great article about him in comparison to Stephen Strasburg.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2009-06-02-ben-mcdonald-cover_N.htm

Really interesting article there, Mr. Pourciau.

Is your point of McDonald being a strong advocate of long toss suppose to be backed up by his constant injuries and the fact that he didn’t lift weights much?

I’m not sure I buy into that, but is that assuming pro-long toss folk are anti-weight lifting? I think many here would agree that strength training is just as, if not more, important than long tossing. In my opinion, though admittedly having absolutely no knowledge aside from that article and the statements you’ve made, McDonald’s arm injuries probably weren’t a result of long tossing, rather a result of not weight lifting/strength training.

And I wholeheartedly agree with LankyLefty. Your posting here is a breath of fresh air. I read (and re-read) articles from your site often to drill into my head the necessities of quality, high-level throwing mechanics so being able to read your thoughts on even more things is both interesting and informative. Hope you stick around!

[quote=“JMB33”]Really interesting article there, Mr. Pourciau.

Is your point of McDonald being a strong advocate of long toss suppose to be backed up by his constant injuries and the fact that he didn’t lift weights much?

I’m not sure I buy into that, but is that assuming pro-long toss folk are anti-weight lifting? I think many here would agree that strength training is just as, if not more, important than long tossing. In my opinion, though admittedly having absolutely no knowledge aside from that article and the statements you’ve made, McDonald’s arm injuries probably weren’t a result of long tossing, rather a result of not weight lifting/strength training.

And I wholeheartedly agree with LankyLefty. You’re posting here is a breath of fresh air. I read (and re-read) articles from your site often to drill into my head the necessities of quality, high-level throwing mechanics so being able to read your thoughts on even more things is both interesting and informative. Hope you stick around![/quote]

The bottom line is that there will never be a study that can conclusively say “LONG TOSS IS BAD FOR ARMS” The study would be too big, too long, and theres far to many factors at play. Taking the Peterson comment again, in the past 10-20 years, lets go over the factors that have changed in the game at an ameteur level-

-Players DO NOT throw as much
-Players weight lift, often improperly
-The slider has overtaken the curve as breaking ball of choice
-Kids no longer pick up a ball and throw how it feels natural, pitching coaches are showing them how to (im)properly throw the baseball
-The Tommy John procedure itself has proven to be reliable and safe and effective, blown elbow in 1985 that gets “rehab” gets TJ in 2005

You could make a case for any one of those being the reason that Tommy John surgery has gone up, showing why you can’t read into that too much.

And as for the fact that McDonald long tossed? Nolan Ryan long tossed, and he threw 95+ for 27 seasons. McDonald long tossed, he broke down. Maddux long tossed, he threw 20+ seasons, (Pitcher Name) long tossed, he could never stay healthy. That argument will go back and fourth, one player does not prove that long toss is healthy or unhealthy.[/b]

FSTBLLTHRWER, I agree with 100% that there is likely never to be conclusive evidence that long toss is detrimental to the health of one’s arm. I’m pro-long toss FWIW. It seems like you quoted me and answered as if I was against long tossing?

No I can tell your for it, I just saw that you said his injuries may have been from a longtoss/lack of strength training mix. I just quoted you for the later part of my response, to really point out that, we can read into injuries all we want to. Prior’s mechanics made him break down, Liriano’s slider made him break down. We tend to forget that these guys all throw the baseball 90+ with a universally unnatural motion, some guys just aren’t meant to throw for a long time, period. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out if you opened up his shoulder, that something there made him predisposed to injury.