Long Toss

My son is a 10 year-old, 5th grade (i.e. barely league-age 11) LHP with a little over a year’s experience pitching. He last threw competitively at the end of the fall season in early November. Since then, he has goofed around with throwing the football, playing basketball, and the occasional game of catch after getting a new glove for Christmas.

We decided to change leagues this spring, forsaking our old independent (unaffiliated) league for a “real” Little League. This, of course, meant tryouts–something we have never done before. To prepare for this, we started doing some light baseball workouts that included the “10-Minute Long Toss” (46’,60’, 85’) about once a week starting New Years Day. I didn’t want to get too “gung-ho”, but I also didn’t want him going into this new situation (tryouts) unprepared.

He had his tryouts last weekend and did fine (Dad was proud). What surprised me was the speed he recorded on the radar gun. I am not a big fan of these things and do not own one, but my boy has been clocked periodically by others, including last fall where he threw mainly in the mid to high 40s and peaked at 50. Last Sunday he clocked a consistent 53.

While pleased with his progress, I am wondering as to what might be the cause, or if, in fact, he has really improved at all.

Growth? He has grown a little, but it has only been a little over two months since he last played.

The Radar Gun? Do these things vary that much?

Or is it the Long Toss? Which leads me to my main question here:

How effective is Long Toss at the youth level?

My son is almost exactly the same age and technically will be playing up this year.

First, radar guns, and especially cheap ones, can be all over the place.

Growth has probably helped some. Longer limbs = longer lever arms = more velocity. He may also be picking up some more muscle mass.

I think the long toss has also helped. I think, if done by very gradually increasing the distance between throwers, can be a good way to both warm up and build strength.

One thing I will say about this is to be careful. If you go overboard on building up his muscles (more than just conditioning) he could end up injuring himself.

Remember that right now he has the bones of a child but is developing (or is about to develop) the muscles of an adult.

Thanks for the feedback. I have been approaching the increase in distance very gradually, and am content to keep it a 85’ max for now (he also plays catcher so that distance helps in two ways). I have been cautious about overdoing it and have limited the long toss to 10 minutes once a week max. We are still the “muscle memory” stage of his development, and I think it best to ignore the “increase of muscle mass” question altogether since he is pre-pubescent.

Most of the time we just play catch and throw occasional “pens” equivalent to a pregame warm-up and first inning (about 30-35 pitches), and not every day. Basketball, tossing the football and other activities fill in the rest.

I just wanted to make sure that the long toss was not inappropriate for this age group.