Long Toss in Cold Weather

I searched the forum and couldn’t find any info for what I was looking for. It’s getting cold in the Northeast, and since there’s no place around here where I’m able to loss toss inside (effectively at least), I was wondering how cold is too cold to play catch and long toss? I remember hearing a while ago that 30 degrees or under was a general limit, but I’m not sure if that’s accurate or not?


I would advise not to throw without sleeves when its below 70 and not throwq at all below 45-50. Otherwise its too risky. I would just do mound work or throw into a net.

As a player the sleeves thing I always followed, however looking back I’m not sure there is any evidence that it’s a benefit. Re: throwing in cold weather, I just think it’s important to have a good warm up period of running, lunges, etc … I’m not sure the cold is really an issue ( other than being uncomfortable ). Hope someone with facts can comment, it’s an interesting topic for the snowbirds …

well i know that with my rehab throwing, Champion Sports medicine does not recommend throwing in weather under 60 degrees, and even in 60 degree weather that’s with sleeves (under armor).

Although that’s rehab throwing… not regular arm building for the season.

In very cold weather 50 degrees and colder, I’ve found that a pitcher’s body is not receptive to derive benefits from the long toss routines.

I’ve found that pitchers concentrate totally on keeping warm, their body posture is more closed and compact than anything, they constantly grip about the cold and the entire effort is a waste of time.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear different results. But that was my experiences.

By the way, the biggest complaint I use to get was …" hey coach, when are you coming out here".

My answer was always …" what ya nuts … it’s freezing out there!!" :freezing:

Coach B

What about playing catch with a football? We do that all the time in the cold weather, so since it’s below 50 it is doing damage to my sons arm?

I’m not qualified as a coach to give you a yes or no answer on that question. I have no understanding of the protocols necessary to repeatedly throw a football – by age, football size, distance, etc.

On the other hand I have tossed a few spirals in blistery weather with my son and nephews after a Sunday dinner and neither of us came away from the experience with any discomfort. Added to that last example, one of my nephews really has a howitzer for an arm, was even looking at BC there for a while. But we did start off with light tosses then really got into burning-em back and forth.

So, can you hurt yourself tossing the pigskin… I guess you could if you weren’t really careful in the beginning and started rocketing the ball back and forth at 100 paces … but then that’s just a guess. Then add to the experience not dressing for the occasion, over doing it till the arm feel off, then not taking a nice hot shower afterwards to relax and condition the muscles. But then again, just tossing a few for the shear enjoyment of a father and son get together is what makes a father and son get together so memorable.

Coach B.

Of course I’m not an expert but if you do throw in the cold you should really warm up before you start throwing I would try to run a lot. If you live in a cold area you’ll probably have to a play a game or two in the cold so you may as well get used to it.

Wear layers of long sleeves and run before you throw and I don’t see anything bad coming from it. Personally I’ve found that the biggest issue is finding someone dedicated enough to throw with you.

We are basically doing it to play some football & strengthen the arm a little during the off season. Normally its between 30-50 degrees. We start out short & run some little routes & then we graduate to some semi long passes. Killing 2 birds with one activity, a little football & a little arm conditioning

Thanks guys, this is good stuff. And, as stated earlier in the thread, we do play in cold weather (quite a bit actually), and when moving from indoors to outdoors I usually notice a decrease in velocity (most likely not warmed up adequately).

I’d love to hear what Steven has to say on the matter, having played in Chicago and all.

I grew up in the Northeast (Upstate NY, where it’s butt cold 5 months/year). For practices and general throwing, I still tend to rely on 30 degrees or less, go inside … 30 degrees or more, you can go outside. Although 40 degrees is truly even better.

I suggested 30 degrees because when you’re throwing, there’s always some element of your body that’s exposed. It’s mostly your throwing hand, and your face, so it’s important not to expose yourself to below freezing temps for too long.

However, performance gear has come a long way in the past 5 years so that with a little Under Armour Cold Gear tights (top and bottoms), you should be perfectly OK. With your upper body clothing, the tighter the fit, the better; loose long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts cause “drag” in the air.

A few things to consider:

  1. You want to take care of your hands, especially your throwing hand. So I recommend using a heavy-duty moisturizer to prevent the cold from cracking your skin on your throwing hand on those really cold days. Maybe you don’t have a problem with this, but it’s worth considering if you’ve got dry hands already.

  2. Don’t wear a jacket when you throw. Wear it to warmup. But take it off when you’re doing your 10-30 minutes of throwng. You can put it back on later.

  3. If you’re not sweating before you start throwing, you’re not warmed up well enough. I know that in cold weather it’s harder to work up a sweat. But that just means you have to work harder/longer to warm up.

  4. Wear a hat (snow hat) to keep your head warm. If you’re head’s warm, it’s easier to warm up and stay warm throughout your throwing session.

  5. If you’re throwing a bullpen, take it very easy to start out. Get a good feel for your pitches first (and, again, get a good sweat going) before you unleash your best stuff.

  6. When you’re done with your throwing, the sooner you can change your shirt, put on a jacket, put on winter gloves, and then eventually take a warm shower, the better. I always recommend bringing a second, dry shirt to change into when you’re sweating in cold weather. If you’re going to be standing around, wear gloves (or thinner batting gloves) to protect your hands.

  7. Find a high school gym or a college gym to throw in instead. If you’ve got access to this resource, it can be a better option than throwing inside – especially in snow and on those days when it’s too cold to throw outside.

Fantastic thread with good sense and advice.
Even down here in Fla. we have weather that gets to freezing a couple of times a year and it always seems like the coldest day with the highest wind chill (And believe me…I grew up in Chicago, this is a “damp” cold because we have such high humidity…it is cold) that my kid pitches (Ususally in Jan.). The key is warming up slowly and completely.
Many people advocate chunking a football as a great arm/body conditioning tool…I’ve never seen it hurt anyone. I can’t vouch for the physical benefits but I can the thereputic…If you love to throw it’s good for the soul.

The sublety of this is sublime coach :wink:

Excellent advice by Steven.

I always seem to bring this up, but throwing into a net is a great alternative.

You can find nets for a very cheap price (I bought mine for less than $15). You don’t have to get one of the fancy pop up nets either.

If you have a basement or garage (although a garage is probably colder so you’ll need to warm up and dress warmer there) you can buy a net, hang it from the rafters, get a bucket of balls (or just a few), and throw into that.

You can throw every day, all day if you like with this setup. :wink:

I use it with my son and some of the players I’ve trained and it was an excellent alternative to throwing in the cold or long tossing (even when it’s warmer out).

Lankylefty conditions with a net too great alternative.

your arm doesn’t know if you’re throwing to a partner 120-300 ft away, or throwing into a net 20 ft away. you can hang a net in a school hallway or corner of a gym and throw into that just to build and maintain arm strength. some of my best arm strength workouts are done in a regular cage. nothing fancy. get a bucket of balls, get loose, then get a running start and throw it into the upper half of the far end. build up to 120 to 150 3 to 4 times per week. you have to be creative in cold weather places. the absolute is you need to get loose and then throw at near maximium velocity and then maximum velocity 3 - 4 days per week to strengthen the arm. that is the common denominator of effective arm strength programs. has nothing to do with location and pitching. if you threw from a mound to a target, i don’t see why you couldn’t do the same thing and work on arm strength.

duncan (larussa’s pitching coach) has his guys do their long toss after their bullpens. that makes sense to me.

I’m thinking of setting up a net with some backing to protect against rebounds in my strength and conditioning facility (small garage-like area) for this very purpose.

Do you guys put a heavy shop blanket behind the netting to cushion against the impact?

[quote=“kyleb”]I’m thinking of setting up a net with some backing to protect against rebounds in my strength and conditioning facility (small garage-like area) for this very purpose.

Do you guys put a heavy shop blanket behind the netting to cushion against the impact?[/quote]

I setup my net so that I have about 5’ of empty space behind it. That way when the ball hits it (hopefully above 90 :lol: ) it will have some room to decelerate. The ball usually just rolls harmlessly down the net to the floor.

The netting that is made of cloth (I think it’s cloth…maybe more of a rope type of material) is a little heavier and I try to look for that type rather than the straight up nylon kind.

But even that (nylon) will work. You just may have to double it up.

The heavy shop blanket idea would work too I guess, but in my setup I have a radar gun setup behind the net and if I used a heavy blanket behind the net it wouldn’t read the throw.

Thanks. There’s not enough room to throw and test for fastball velocities; this would be merely to work on drills and just get some basic throws in. I prefer to test for fastball velocities off a mound and in game situations when possible, since they’ll be a lot more accurate.

Wow-- good write-up Steven. And thanks to everyone for posting too. I’ve gotten some good ideas from this.