Long-Toss Revisited

I merely touch here once again to announce that I have firmly decided which camp I reside in when it comes to the oft-analyzed subject of long-toss.

A few weeks ago, I espoused my layman’s view of what a long-toss program was. I readily admitted that I had no real knowledge of whether there was anything to the idea that long-tossing could help a pitcher develop arm strength. The cursory research I did seemed to hint that long-tossing was a great way for a pitcher to develop arm strength and the ability to go deeper in games. I wasn’t sure, but it seemed like the Royals were being sticklers about hampering a player’s program by stating that pitchers should only long-toss to a certain extent.* But now I, like most politicians this time of year, have decided to abruptly change my platform.

*Which, in all the articles I read about the subject, appears to be around 120 feet.

After researching the topic a little more thoroughly and conversing with individuals vastly more knowledgeable about the topic than myself,* I think I’m realizing why some teams have restrictions when it comes to long-tossing. Firstly, I really started considering the angle at which the ball is thrown the farther you decide to heave it. I think up to that 120 foot restriction it would be pretty easy to maintain a proper pitching motion. Anything longer than that and you have to start releasing the ball at a higher angle to achieve more distance. I don’t think that higher release point will be of any advantage to a pitcher. In fact, I think it will hurt him more than help him. That higher angle will not aid him in muscle memory for pitching because it’s not even remotely a simulation of a pitch. It doesn’t seem to do anything to help the pitcher. For those who say it helps strengthen the arm, why can’t more throws from a shorter distance do that? Why does a pitcher have to long-toss? I would think the best thing a pitcher could do to strengthen his arm would be to throw. And why not make throws that are going to be as similar as possible to ones you would make in a game?

*Feeble attempt at humility in post…..check

My final point is the argument about the ability of a pitcher to add velocity to his pitches because of a long-toss program. My question is this: Is there not a cap on how hard an individual can throw a baseball? Surely there must be or men who can hurl the pill upwards of 90 mph would no be so sought after.

Anymore, kids are getting into baseball camps at younger and younger ages. Long-toss, like many baseball programs, is started earlier and earlier. I would say an individual is about done developing physically by the age of 18-22. It is not unreasonable to believe that a kid who threw 83 mph as a high school sophomore goes to a baseball camp, plays ball all summer, and comes back having added 5 mph to his fastball. Is his new-found heater a result of the long-toss program he did at the camp? Or is it the result of his body and arm’s continual development and growth as he played baseball all summer. I tend to think it’s the latter. If long-toss programs were solely responsible for adding velocity, a 34 year-old Bruce Chen might be able to begin one and finally hit 90 mph on the radar gun with his cheese. A broken-down blog writer might be able to hit 37 mph on fluttering duck of a throw from right field in a softball game. The opportunities would be endless.

However, I just don’t think that a long-toss program is the answer to adding velocity to an arm. You either have the ability to throw the ball hard or you don’t. Now, a long-toss program might be able to aid you in unlocking your potential as you develop. Maybe you experienced bad coaching as a high school or college kid and once you found yourself a good pitching coach in the minors, you were able to unlock a little bit of extra heat on your pitches. But I don’t think that’s due to long-tossing. I just don’t.

I virtually stand before you a changed man

With a new vision and a new platform

Vote Ethan Evans…or something.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Bruce Chen KC Royals Long-Toss Royals Baseball

  • Kevin Scobee

    “I would say an individual is about done developing physically by the age of 18-22. It is not unreasonable to believe that a kid who threw 83 mph as a high school sophomore goes to a baseball camp, plays ball all summer, and comes back having added 5 mph to his fastball.” — the body developed much later in the 20s. And adding 5 mph over the course of the summer: I’ve seen it, I trained kids that have done, I’ve done it myself. There is no cap on what the body can do

  • Kevin Scobee

    Cont.: pitching in games for a summer does more to stunt or hurt the development of a youth athlete. Velocity is built through training, not through pitching in games.

  • Ethan Evans (Royals Trenchfighter)

    I trust your judgement, but you’re saying everyone has the ability to throw the ball 100 mph?

  • Kevin Scobee

     @Ethan Evans (Royals Trenchfighter) not 100, but everyone has the ability to throw 90, yes. Not everyone can be the elite of the elite, and 100 probably is that benchmark.
    The things that long toss teaches the body, to accommodate the need for an upgrade in velocity, are the same principles needed when on the mound, such as the pelvic tilt and the posture needed to sustain the added torque. Distance equals velocity because in order to throw it far, it must be thrown hard. The normal athletic functions of the body will re-organize themselves as necessary whether the act is being done on a flat ground or a mound.
    And to your point if Bruce Chen can add another 5 mph at this point in his career, absolutely, if he trained for it. I trained an over 30 test group where the same 7.4 mph gain in 8 weeks that applied to youth/amateurs applied to older adults.

  • Ethan Evans (Royals Trenchfighter)

    It’s definitely not hard for me to bow to you in this instance given your background and experience in this situation as opposed to mine. Thanks for straightening me out. I wanted some educated opinions and that’s what I’m getting. It’s interesting. ‘Preciate it!
    If you don’t mind telling me, what did that 8-week training period consist of?