I peeled this Dick Mills response off of another web site...just to provide an opposing and converse position, I didn't edit it at all;
Anyways, this is what Dick Mills had to say about the article in question:
"September 06, 2005
I recently read an article titled "If 300' Long Toss Equates To 90 MPH, Why Do Pitchers Throw 84?
This article appeared in the most recent edition of Collegiate Baseball magazine, Friday Sept. 2, 2005. The author of the article is Ron Wolforth, a self-professed baseball pitching velocity coach, and owner of a baseball pitching school in Houston, Texas.
I know Ron and I know him to be a good person...however he is completely misinformed in his knowledge of sports science training principles which govern how better performance is achieved in all of sports, including baseball pitching.
He is also misguided on the issue of how to produce more pitching velocity. There is no proof that long toss has any benefit to improving pitching velocity.
Many high school and college coaches will tell you that it seems to work for some but not for others. If it was a valuable training tool it would work for all. But it only "seems" to work for growing and developing pitchers.
The idea of this article is that if a pitcher has the capability of throwing the ball a very long distance, such as 300 feet then he should also be able to transfer that long toss ability to pitching from the mound with above average velocity such as 90 mph.
Wolforth goes on to advocate long toss without providing any evidence as to why long toss is valuable. Why is there no evidence? Because it does not exist and never will exist because long toss only seems to work for growing and developing pitchers - usually just high school or early college late developers. It has no value in improving pitching velocity for fully developed pitchers such as college or professional pitchers who have stopped growing.
Articles such as this, on the value of long toss or weighted baseballs or weight room training in improving pitching velocity are all based on only the beliefs of the authors of those articles.
The article begins with a hypothical pitching student asking Ron Wolforth a basic question. "Coach Worforth, you tell us that if you can throw a baseball 300 feet that equates to 90 mph. Yet, I throw it over 300 feet, and my velocity is 84-85 mph. What's my problem?"
Wolforth's answer is nothing more than mumbo-jumbo using an explanation about intent, goal clarification, and neuromuscular efficiency.
Now let me answer that hypothetical question for all the high school or college pitchers or interested coaches who wonder why long toss is not working as promised by the long toss advocate baseball coaches. It is simple and it is clear and it is irrefutable. Long toss does not convert to velocity from the mound because it does not comply with the sports science principle - the Principle of Specificity.
This simply means that long toss and pitching are two completly different activities or skills and the pitcher's body fully understands this. It also means that one activity does not transfer to another one. Wolforth even admits in the article that "The primary reason some young men can throw it over 320 feet in their long toss and not be able to top 85 mph to a batter and catcher is because they (and their bodies) view the two throws as completely different."
Wolforth could have summed up the rest of this article by saying that long toss does not work because it does not follow the Principle of Specificity because the body does view both activities as completely different and unique. He answered the question correctly but does not listen to himself but goes on with more mumbo-jumbo.
So the bottom line is that long toss does not work or transfer to off the mound pitching because Wolforth is correct - the body fully understands that they are two completely different types of throwing. It is not any more the same than throwing a javelin is the same just because the javelin is being thrown using a run up preparation like a crow-hop in long toss.
In fact, the only thing about long toss and pitching that are the same is the baseball. Nothing else is the same. If pitchers were able to crow-hop from the rubber into landing then that would be one thing that would be the same but even if that were so, long toss and pitching from a mound have a completely different release angle because long toss throws must be launched from a higher release position because the ball is going up not down toward the catcher's mitt. So if pitchers were allowed to crow-hop from the mound long toss would still not be valuable because the release position is different.
It is clear that Ron Wolforth or all the long toss advocates do not understand that pitching from the mound is a defined skill of throwing a baseball from a set distance, moving the body from one leg to the other from a stationary position while trying to hit a specific target.
So it is clear that long toss violates the Principle of Specificity which says you must perform the activity in practice if you expect to perform it in a game. Apparently, Ron Wolforth either is not aware of this sports science principle which has been governing sports for at least the last 50 years, or he believes he can rewrite it because he is not aware that the only pitchers that improve their velocity from long toss are growing and developing pitchers. This does not mean it works. It simply means that ignorance is creating improper conclusions.
Wolforth also mentions a story about a professional outfielder who has a 95 mph arm, has struggled to the point with hitting that he is going to be released and the organization says "Wait a minute. Let's make him a pitcher." So he jogs in from right field and low and behold somewhere between right field and the bump (mound), he loses 7-10 mph. How's that possible? Answer: Different rules and different goals. Bottom line, we want to take the energy, elasticity and athleticism involved in that 320 feet throw and condense it into 60 feet 6 inches."
My answer is you can't expect that outfielder to throw 90 mph anymore than you can expect a pitcher to be inserted in the lineup as the three hole hitter and be successful. Each requires a different skill. The reason that the outfielder can not throw 95 mph from the mound is simply because he has not learned the mechanical skill of doing it. It is not about his arm or his ability to throw using a crow hop from the outfield. He simply does not understand how to throw from a stationary position using good posture, shifting his weight properly at the correct time while moving downhill from one leg to the other. Is it possible for him to learn that? Maybe. But maybe not good enough to throw 90 or 95 mph. He may only achieve 85 mph no matter what he does or how hard he practices.
Again, pitching is not about arm strength it is about arm speed. Arm speed must be developed by using efficient mechanics throwing down hill from the mound practicing that a lot of the time. There is no other way to develop that skill - throwing from the mound.
If long toss was valuable for pitchers then it should certainly be valuable for outfielders. Why not just take all "weak armed" outfielders who now must play left field and by putting them on a long toss program turn them into "rocket armed" right-fielders. It doesn't work that way. So if it does not work for outfielders how on earth can it work for pitchers?
We also know based on a study done by the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham that long tossing beyond 180 ft. adds stress to the throwing elbow. That study was posted in my previous article The Causes And Cures Of Most Baseball Pitching Problems, Auguest 14, 2005 on this blog.
Why might long toss be more stressful. It could very well be that the pitcher is not able to get the advanatage of gravity that he has while moving downhill from the mound so he must work harder using his arm. That is why throwing on flat ground is actually more stressful than throwing from the mound despite the beliefs by some pitching gurus and recommended by many misinformed coaches or instructors.
Apparently the value in long toss is that is you become a better long tosser however, as a pitcher you gain no skill that can help you perform better as a pitcher and you also add more stress to your arm. Not only do you waste considerable valuable time which could have been used to perfect the many skills required for pitching but you get closer to an arm injury.
Does this sound like a valuable activity for pitching?
Ron Wolforth also believes that pitchers need to have athleticism in order to throw with above average velocity. Why? After all pitching is a skill activity much more than an athletic activity. Pitching requires no more athleticism than does golf. Both are complex two-phase motor skills that require proper mechanics in order to reach a degree of success. Many golfers, even professionals who were not successful in other athletic sports are able to reach a high degree of success as golfers. This also goes for the weekend golfer.
After all pitchers only need to learn how to move from a stationary postion while shifting their weight from one leg to the other while learning how to position their arms properly. That skill can be learned. It certainly does not mean that everyone can throw 90 mph but pitchers can reach a degree of success by practicing the skill of pitching. And the absolute best way to gain that skill is to practice that skill while throwing from the mound, not by practicing on flat ground, not by practicing long toss, not by lifting weights to get stronger or not by throwing weighted baseballs.
I know of several high school pitchers who have improved their velocity by 10-13 mph in less than a year without doing long toss or lifting weights or throwing weighted baseballs. They improved their velocity by growing and developing. They gained natural strength as all pitchers do from growth and development.
The question begs to be answered by Ron Wolforth of how pitchers in the past, the large majority of which never long tossed or lifted weights...and yet they threw with above average velocity. Prior to the 80's long toss was not a popular activity for pitchers and yet thousands of pitchers at all levels were able to achieve above average velocity by just throwing from the mound. Or how is it that Little League pitchers at the ages of 10, 11 or 12 are able to reach velocities of 70 mph which is the equivilent of 90 mph since most do not long toss to any degree.
A baseball coach should be able to explain exactly how practicing one action benefits the performance of another completely different action to justify that long toss is a valuable practice activity for pitchers. This article has failed in doing that.
Articles such as this about pitching velocity by doing long toss or throwing weighted baseballs or doing weight training are all designed to hype some coach who would have you think he knows something others do not know about velocity improvement. This is unfortunate because thousands of high school and college pitchers are looking for straight answers that can be backed up with evidence or at least an explanation using sports science training principles or biomechanics. This article uses nothing more than mumbo-jumbo and does nothing to elevate the status of the author in terms of his knowledge of pitching performance improvement. He is taking pitchers down a blind alley.
Why doesn't the author of the article reveal how he came to these conclusions or developed these beliefs. In that regard he has nothing of value to give the reader. We can only conclude then that these are his beliefs about the value of long toss.
What the reader of that article does not realize is that he will get no improvement in his pitching by doing long toss. His long toss might get better. He might be able to improve his skill of long distance throwing and increase his distance substantially. However, that ability will not transfer to mound velocity no matter what the intention of the pitcher is.
Ron Wolforth may be a great long toss instructor. However, does he know how to help pitchers improve their throwing from a mound which is the only place where it truly counts. Time will tell.
This article will hurt far more pitchers than it will help. It clearly gives the impression that long toss is a "holy grail" for improving velocity. I know that not be to true and so don't thousands of high school and college pitchers who have tried it.
Unfortunately, in a baseball magazine you expect to get information designed to instruct not destruct a pitcher's ability to perform to his best. The one thing that all pitchers can never get back is wasted time...the single biggest asset they have if they want to reach their full potential.
I believe more baseball coaches must begin to step up to the plate and provide some proof that can be substantiated rather than expecting us to use blind faith in what they have to say. Their experience is not evidence it is belief.
As parents and players you must force those who hype the value of certain activities, such as long toss, pitching drills, weighted baseballs or weight training to explain their value using evidence.
Dick Mills" - Dick Mills