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

Well gentlemen in my opinion as a coach and player for the last 40 or so years the, “what has changed part”, is the insane scheduling and playing of younger kids (Starting as young as 6) on a pace that is more arduous than even most fully conditioned adults wouldn’t be able to keep up with. Say what you will about this technique or that. I’ll tell you that no “drill” or aspect of preparing to pitch at a high level will even come close to damaging an arm or shoulder like that. I see (Even here on this site) people talk about kids playing upwards of 100 games a year. Major leaguers don’t do that. It is the elephant in the room. We over-use these kids (We as a collective sport) and then say well we’ll protect it by only letting them throw xx pitches for little league…well I got news for everyone brother…little league played in the manner it allows (Spring regular season, All-Stars and Fall Ball or fundementals) and a kid will only be involved in at best 40 games a year and pitch at most in less than half. Also you’ll never see a kid go back to back days on a week end or finish a tourney on Monday and pitch again next Thursday…a hundred or so pitches. Only in the completely unregulated Travel Circuits do you see this and the truth is that there is a steady push to ignore it or brush it aside. In travel they have the very best young kids, teach them to throw as hard as can be done and then allow and encourage the use of breaking balls as early as the kid knows the ball can spin…You just can’t tell me that long toss or any work out is as or anywhere near as dangerous as this allowed behavior. If little league were the only way a kid could access the sport then I’d bet my mortgage we’d never have anywhere near the Tommy John issues we have now…It is the only real change over the 40 years I’ve experienced. Conditioning and preparation techniques have gotten so much better than the time when I was a kid…when all we had until the mid-70’s was free weights and running and long toss (Of course it wasn’t formally called “Long Toss”…we just threw). I just have to say we are perfecting conditioning approaches while doing nothing to mitigate the actual cause…sorta like we’ve made a truely great and efficient band aid but keep cutting ourselves so despite the ability to “staunch the flow” as it were, we are still causing the injury, I would suggest if we DIDN’T have the different techniques such as long toss or the outstanding conditioning techniques Top Velo mentioned, we’d be so inundated with arm injury Congress would regulate it :shock: .

All great points. I only mentioned Ben McDonald because he was an “Old School” guy who didn’t lift much and threw a lot. I wasn’t using him to prove my point that long toss is bad for your arm. I understand we can find examples on both ends of the spectrum but I do believe what jdfromfla wrote about overthrowing our youth. This could be the link to the increase in arm injuries today. This is why I stray away from throwing programs that put extreme amounts of work loads on the arm like throwing long toss at 250 feet plus. I am not saying that this is all Jaeger’s program is but the videos he has on his site and the web paint this picture. If you believe that the body generates the majority of the torque and potential velocity of the pitch then why would you over abuse the arm to strengthen it? Wouldn’t you just work to get bigger, stronger, faster with strength and speed training?

I didnt exactly read everything here because it’s like reading a novel… But I thought I would have some input… : )

This is what I believe…
I believe that there is nothing wrong with long toss as long as you can control it. If you can go out and long toss the crap out of the ball and have no injury, not change up your arm slot, and then get on the mound and use what you were using in long toss… I would say go for it. I believe that some people could potentially have a very simular long toss motion as their pitching motion… and still be mechanically sound. The problem is when people change everything up to compensate for distance. People like long toss cause you can physically see your velocity increase… You can see you can throw further than last year, or throw more on a line than you could last time or whatever… People can see these differences because there arm physically will get stronger in the areas that are used for long toss… I am not a scientist (yet) but I could imagine that these muscles are essentially the same seeing as both are throwing at a slight incline.

However, I believe that there are some people (such as myself) who sometimes have trouble with long toss… I am a person who really doesnt warm up much, doesnt do long-toss anymore, and just pitch. I do this because when I play catch/long-toss my whole body functions different… My arm slot changes, I cant throw the ball very hard anymore in long-toss, ball tails uncontrolably, and everything just seams to get messed up. I also find I have a short stride which means I am throwing all arm, and pretty much refuse to do anything but a walk behind/block step… I dont like using all my effort just to play catch : p… I am learning that I should be saving my bullets for the game.

I also dont believe in lifting… I do absolutely no upper body lifting outside my bands… There is no reason to build slow twitch muscles in ur upperbody when you are looking for quick explosive power. I believe the best way to build tone mucles are light band work, and other body resistance exercises.

Btw did you ever consider that the amount of injuries might have gone up in our youth and all because people are taking sports more seriously now? There are more and more kids playing sports every year, and their parents are pushing them harder and harder… More youth are using weighted balls, lifting weights, and all that other stuff that is said to boost velocity… Kids are desperate to be the fastest, best player there is.

I could imagine that the scientist didnt take much into account the arm slot, lower body movements, and just over all the type of thrower that is throwing.

Regards,
Sunsetblud

JD,

I think that is one of your most insightful posts ever. Nice job, bro! I agree 110%.

All of that wear and tear has a significant amplifying effect on things like poor mechanics and inadequate conditioning. Many folks don’t seem to understand this.

[quote=“FSTBLLTHRWER”]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.[/quote]

I love the irony of Lincecum/Mills too.

I agree to this post to some extent, but dont you also think the injury rate could be due to the “babying” of pitchers’ arms to the extent that they never get the chance to develop adequate strength to go deep into ballgames? The whole ASMI 120 foot long toss rule and pitch counts may prevent injuries in the short term, but at the price of pitchers’ arms never really getting conditioned to throw hard. Suddenly, when coaches need an extra inning or an extra 5 mph on that fastball in a game the player is unprepared for this added stress because their bodies and arms were not adequately prepared for it.

jd. Great post about over-using our youth. TopVelo, I’m with you on the total body approach. What interests me is how all of the long toss, Jobe exercises, etc. have not served to reduce pitching injury rates. Pointing out that MLB pitchers long toss isn’t an endorsement for it when injury rates are still high. That doesn’t mean long toss is the culprit but it may say that long toss isn’t the answer either, at least not by itself.

I also agree with the fact that this is an excellent thread with all points being made effectively. It’s exactly what LTP is about!!

Although I agree with some of the points, in principle, that Mills put in that video, I must suggest that all of the lines he drew and the comparisons of Lincecum’s positioning to the long tosser are not accurate. The camera angle is different in each. The Lincecum one is more from the front than the long tosser, causing the relative positionings to be exaggerated. I think Mills’ lines may be showing differences in reality but the magnitude of them are much less than these lines represent.

What I don’t see addressed here at all are Dr. Andrews’ statements here:[quote=“Dr. Andrews”]Throwing from flat ground produced a shorter stride and less shoulder external rotation at foot contact, more elbow varus torque during arm cocking, a more upright trunk at ball release……[/quote]
AND[quote=“Dr. Andrews”]The combination of 10 degrees of lateral trunk tilt and 100 degrees of shoulder abduction produced the minimum peak varus torque among all conditions in the study. Thus, the results of this simulation study clearly show that shoulder abduction angle and lateral trunk tilt have an affect on elbow varus torque and thus can be helpful in reducing stressful forces on the shoulder and elbow during pitching.[/quote]
AND[quote=“Dr. Andrews”]Elbow varus torque was greatest during 180 ft’ throwing.[/quote]
Now, this may not be conclusive proof that long toss injures arms but it is compelling information to add into the mix.

I think that statistics that are commonly referred to like “TJ surgery has gone up 700% in the past X years” is a bit misleading for various reasons. First of all, we don’t know the quality (nor the consistency) of data that is being collected by various organizations across the United States, much less the world. Additionally, many state-run athletic boards DO NOT consider elbow/shoulder reconstruction to be a catastrophic injury, and as such, do not catalog them. Catastrophic (to them) means a loss of limb or total incapacitation of a body part.

As such, I believe poor data over the past few decades makes all those types of claims quite frivolous. I would like to see well-researched studies that isolate particular variables and show real regression work to prove that TJ surgery PERCENTAGES has increased over the years.

[quote=“LankyLefty”]

I agree to this post to some extent, but dont you also think the injury rate could be due to the “babying” of pitchers’ arms to the extent that they never get the chance to develop adequate strength to go deep into ballgames? The whole ASMI 120 foot long toss rule and pitch counts may prevent injuries in the short term, but at the price of pitchers’ arms never really getting conditioned to throw hard. Suddenly, when coaches need an extra inning or an extra 5 mph on that fastball in a game the player is unprepared for this added stress because their bodies and arms were not adequately prepared for it.[/quote]

100% agree. Arms need to be strengthened. Often they are babied. Very often pitchers break down because they haven’t been conditioned to throw a certain workload. Very often I hear people say “oh I got so many throws in my arm” but then you see guys like Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson who survived into their 40s and still throwing heat without any serious arm issues. (I think Ryan had like two arm injuries, and Johnson had a shoulder issue because of his awkward swing). Now I’m not saying going out there and throwing 100 pitches a day. But I think that you can treat throwing like running or weightlifting, if you build up to it there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to throw everyday or throw farther then 300 feet.

In case this thread has caused anyone to shy away from long toss, consider using the approach that House teaches which is to go out only to the max distance in which you can still use proper pitching mechanics. This is part of the USC pitchers’ pregame routine.

I can’t imagine how that works, I mean I’m sure it does, but wouldn’t the uphill trajectory throw off your mechanics? Or does he instruct them to throw it on a line like they are throwing a pitch?

I know that in his fastball fitness book, there is a program that is called T.M.T. and a baseball school came up with it. I believe that it is a version of houses long toss were you go to 120 feet and pitch from that distance. Use your exact pitching mechanics.

The irony of finding this news today after starting this topic on Jaeger’s throwing program. I have been arguing this issue for days now with Mr. Jaeger through email and the news yesterday says that Jaeger’s number one guy has a season ending injury. Zumaya is out for the season because of the stress fracture in his throwing shoulder. Is this the cause of Jaeger’s extreme long toss program or just an athlete plagued by injury due to bad luck? What should we make of this?

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/baseball/story/2009/07/30/sp-tigers-zumaya.html

It’s all in here, I had the same question.

http://www.letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=11191

If you’re having to throw uphill to the point of altering your mechanics, then you’ve gone out too far.

[quote=“■■■■■■■■■■■.net”]The irony of finding this news today after starting this topic on Jaeger’s throwing program. I have been arguing this issue for days now with Mr. Jaeger through email and the news yesterday says that Jaeger’s number one guy has a season ending injury. Zumaya is out for the season because of the stress fracture in his throwing shoulder. Is this the cause of Jaeger’s extreme long toss program or just an athlete plagued by injury due to bad luck? What should we make of this?

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/baseball/story/2009/07/30/sp-tigers-zumaya.html[/quote]

Jaeger has also worked with Dan Haren and Barry Zito, two guys who have both never sniffed the DL because of an Arm injury. Zumaya likely still has issues with his shoulder because it didn’t properly heal after he injured it when he was moving boxes

Barry Zito doesn’t throw hard enough to injury himself. I wouldn’t suggest that Zumaya broke his shoulder bone pitching because his arm hadn’t healed from lifting boxes. His shoulder bone snapped because his throwing mechanics put a lot of stress on his shoulder joint. If you are going to average in the upper 90’s with your fastball you better have total body mechanics and know how to develop optimal shoulder integrity.

One of the dumbest things I have ever heard. If its not possible to hurt yourself by throwing in the mid to upper 80s, then how do you explain little leaguers who get injured. There are plenty of people who throw less then that and get injured (myself included). Is there less stress on the arm when somebody throws at a lower velocity? yes. But that doesn’t mean their not injury proof.

Agreed, but this has nothing to do with Jaegers long toss. It is simply a strengthening exercise. Do I think Zumaya has bad mechanics, absolutely. Or his conditioning and nutrition aren’t very good. But the bottom line is that its not because he long tossed. Its because either his mechanics aren’t good, he has poor conditioning, or he has bad nutrition habits.

One thing I find funny in reading the Dick Mills article against long toss is that he uses Tim Lincecum in his example of the doing it right part.
How ironic is it that Tim Lincecum is a huge proponent of long toss?
http://www.baseballnews.com/features/lincecum_comes.htm

Seems to sum it up for me. Long toss done right can only help the arm. Let me also say that I coach HS baseball and had our pitchers on Jaeger’s program and have seem some really eye opening results. Velocity has picked up a little but the ability to recover quickly and the kids having no soreness is the big thing. We also do the Jband program so I can’t say for sure if it is more Jband tubing or long toss but I know done in tandem it has worked wonders.

Oops, I guess someone already beat me to the Lincecum example but hey it is still true.
I do also agree that weight lifting has hurt. I tore my rotator cuff in college by having a bad imbalance. Worked too much chest and muscles in the front that supply the power and not enough on the ones in the back that decelerate. To me Weight lifting can help if it is done right but work the back, core and legs with only light weights in the front and exercises that don’t cause hyperextention of the shoulder. Just my 2 cents

baseballnut1968 it is interesting to see that you are a brand new member as of today and this is your first posting on LTP. It makes me wonder if you are apart of the Jaeger Posse or am I crazy for saying this?

When I speak of long toss I am not talking 120 feet. I am talking the lengths of Jaeger’s program which can exceed 300 feet. By saying that throwing long toss is a good way to strengthen the arm that is like saying just doing bench press strengthens the arm. If you are not building joint integrity by developing the anterior of the shoulder as much as the posterior then you are doing damage. This is the case of Zumaya and his injury. He obviously had poor joint integrity because his anterior muscles of the shoulder and his pecs broke off his shoulder bone. This could be the result of a Jaeger throwing program of using long toss of 350 feet to “Strengthen the arm” but I do not have any research to back this up except the fact that two of my students who used the Jaeger program developed elbow injuries after using the program. My agenda here is not to ruin Alan Jaeger. It is to help educate the pitching community on using these extreme throwing programs to develop young pitchers. Programs like Jaeger’s can be very destructive to a pitcher and I believe Zumaya to be a good example unless someone can do some research to prove me otherwise.

The other major issue with the Jaeger throwing program is he does not work mechanically with his students to develop good throwing mechanics before he puts them on his extreme long toss program. This would be like a trainer telling an athlete to max out on bench without first teaching him proper form. This is extremely dangerous and why I speak out against these type of reckless programs.