Long Toss Studies

Hi,

I’d like to get some opinions on long toss (over 120 feet). There seems to be at least 2 schools of thought. I went to the AJ website and read several articles on the “benefits” he feels occur with long toss. To be honest, I am underwhelmed by the “evidence” he uses to advocate the benefits of long toss. He doesnt reference any studies, and just provides anecdotal evidence. He uses alot of anolgies to freedom, trees, clocks, and snakes that have nothing to do with human anatomy and kiniesology.

On the other hand ASMI has an actual study which seems to highlight some of the dangers of long toss. And the Texas Rangers (hired AJ) ar being devastated by injuiries. Is there a correlation. In a few years will we find out that long toss is harmful???

The main arguments against long toss seem to be

  1. it places a lot of stress on your elbow

  2. it changes mechanics and release point

to address the first point, of course ANY kind of max effort throwing is going to place a lot of stress on the elbow. This is an inherent part of overhead throwing…but by being smart and systematic about it, this stress won’t be anything the arm can’t handle.

second off, long toss may use slightly more tilted shoulders to put arc on the ball, but this does not change the fundamental movement patterns when it comes to how the upper/lower half sync up, how the scaps move, etc. Furthermore, proper long toss incorporates a pulldown phase where the max distance throws are translated into shorter and shorter distances as the shoulders level back out again. In other words, proper long toss bridges the mechanical “gap” between throwing on an arc and throwing to a catcher during this pulldown phase.

Anecdotally, long toss of the alan jaeger sort that hundreds of elite velocity throwers do, helps me groove a nice loose arm action and gets my entire delivery feeling extremely explosive and synced up in a way that I would not be if I just started throwing from 60 feet.

long toss may not be for everybody (mostly people who haven’t figured out their footwork, or submarine/some sidearm guys), but it certainly isn’t any more dangerous than any other kind of max throwing. In fact, I would go so far as to say my arm feels way better after a gradual long toss buildup than just going in to throw a bullpen and not letting my arm gradually extend itself. In talking to a fellow NECBL pitcher on our rival summer team at the all star game, he has built himself up to max long tossing every day. Watching him do a trevor bauer crow hop and fire 99mph into the catcher with almost identical mechanics to his 95 mph delivery makes it pretty hard to believe there isn’t some slight correlation. Show me a guy who believes in only throwing to 120 feet, and I’ll show you a guy who is 1) trying to sell something(ex. dick mills), 2) hasn’t been taught how to properly long toss (why I didn’t like it for a long time) or 3) is not or is no longer a player and is more caught up in the theory of what should work (law of specificity) than what actually does work for many many elite throwers.

Well said Lanky. As for the Rangers and the injuries to their pitchers, this is what I could find:
Uehara-strained lat muscle
Feliz-has had Tommy John surgery
Lowe-right intercostal muscle strain (ribs)
Lewis-flexor tendon tear
Ogando-groin strain
Holland-left shoulder fatigue. Holland lost 15 lbs when he got sick with a stomach virus, tried to play through the weight loss and his arm got tired.

Out of the six pitchers listed above 2 have injuries that one could argue (although it would be a weak argument) were longtoss could have played a roll. Two elbow injuries to pitchers on an MLB roster going into August doesnt seem out of the ordinary, it may be below the average. Im not sure. Please correct me if I am wrong. Any training protocol has to be done in a systematic and reasonable way to keep players safe and to be effective. The limiting of longtoss doesnt make sense to me at all. For the folks who cant see a relation between longtoss (as Jeager teaches) and conditioning the arm for the act of pitching either dont get it or are not doing it correctly (see Lankys post about the pull down phase).

Long toss works, YES it does…

Great post Lanky. My son really likes AJ’s long toss program

On a different note, why is there so much demand for studies and scientific evidence? Not to bash studies, but what happened to tried and true methods having credibility?

[quote=“Turn 22”]Great post Lanky. My son really likes AJ’s long toss program

On a different note, why is there so much demand for studies and scientific evidence? Not to bash studies, but what happened to tried and true methods having credibility?[/quote]

I guess I’m a little old fashioned in that I expect people to actually prove their concepts with valid studies and testing. Long Toss is like a lot of baseball concepts that come in vogue, people follow them, and then later you find out that they were ineffective or sometime harmful.

Go back a few decades of pitching.
Pitches rarely iced their arms after a game.
Then pitchers began using heat, linament and icy hot (jim bouton in ball4)
Today pitchers have enormous ice wraps on their entitre arm
Tim Lincecum and other are back to old school and do not use ice- He and some studies indicate the lactic remains in the arm if you use ice. Lincecum believes that if you do not ice the lactic acid will flush from your system naturally.
So who’s right???

Back to long toss. I tend believe the added torque put on the arm offsets the alleged benefit that you arm gets “stretched out”. There are safer more effective ways of “stretching out” or warming up your arm than long toss. I would just like to see more studies that either support or take issue with the benefits of long toss.

Of course the very furthest throws in long toss are going to create a little more torque than you will from a mound…because the velocity being generated is greater out of the hand (generally). This isn’t really an argument not to do it though…its just easy to claim that long toss isn’t backed by science because its benefits aren’t as quantifiable.

Long toss is the best way to gradually increase one’s intensity and get loose…it literally forces you to not rush your warm-up and start hucking bullets from the get-go…it gets all of the body part in sync because of its gradual nature slowly building up to a full intensity throw. You can’t quantify this, or at least I can’t think of a way.

Actual players seem to realize this…they realize that long toss doesn’t cripple your elbow (they wouldn’t keep doing it if they could feel such a massive overloading torque that their arms couldn’t handle), they realize that they feel looser and more stretched out, they realize their arms feel better the next day after the extended, gradual throwing session, and they realize they are able to throw harder after their pulldown phase then they could without performing it, while feeling more in sync.

long toss isn’t for everybody, but just because there aren’t studies backing up certain intangible benefits, and just because 100% of players aren’t sold on it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have very real benefits for countless numbers of players who correctly perform it.

lefty,

I do you see some of your points, but I do have a few issues.

1- You, of course, are describing long toss done “correctly”. There are just so many HS coaches who think long toss is simply throwing the ball long. And WRONG! Not a fault of AJ, but its a big problem and its very damaging to young arms.

2- I think there is certainly a big enough pool of long tossers to get some quantifiable statistics. Maybe thats my problem with alot of baseball wisdom. Its really based on the “everybody else is doing it” philosophy. And not- Heres a study, this bleep really works!

Thanks

What you’re describing Doc is a no win situation.

The school of thought of everyone else is doing it, I get you’re point that you’re making same with the fact that LT isn’t necessarily being taught properly. I get it.

The same with the studies, I get that too, BUT if you pay someone enough money you can get a study to say whatever it is you want to prove or disprove.

What it really boils down to is finding out what works best for the individual. That’s what makes this art so unique and so hard to master, there isn’t one brush stroke that fits for everyone. It’s takes people lifetimes to find out what works best for them, some guys are just better at connecting the dots quicker and making the adjustments they need to make better then others.

[quote]1- You, of course, are describing long toss done “correctly”. There are just so many HS coaches who think long toss is simply throwing the ball long. And WRONG! Not a fault of AJ, but its a big problem and its very damaging to young arms.
[/quote]

Doc, How can you condemn a training tool based on HS coaches ignorance of that tool. The pitcher himself should bear some of the responsibility to learn how to train along with any other points he learns in his craft. HS guys need to know their bodies, how they work and what training elements will and will not help them.

I can’t seem to get around what makes studies so important. Long toss is a tool. You can study it all day long, even write a thesis on it if you want, but at the end of the day, some will benefit from it and some may not. Some will do it correctly with the gradual increases out and finish with a correctly done pull down phase. Others, like everything else, will try to take short cuts, skip steps, whatever. Studies ain’t going to change that.

I do believe studies are helpful tools as well. We’ve learned a lot from studies over the years and learned what to stay away from. I just don’t think any training tool should be discounted simply for a lack of statistical anaylsis or studies done by a think tank.

I think in the end, each pitcher has to learn what is right and what is wrong for him individually. Find what works best for his body. What helps him improve. What brings him to that next level.

[quote=“Turn 22”][quote]

I think in the end, each pitcher has to learn what is right and what is wrong for him individually. Find what works best for his body. What helps him improve. What brings him to that next level.[/quote]

Wow…we need more thinkers like you! Well said!