Arm problems have plagued many baseball players over the years. However, one of the most effective and enjoyable training programs, long toss, has proven not just to be an off-season activity, but rather one that guarantees optimum arm health and meets the needs of an athlete. If you are seeking to build your arm strength, velocity, flexibility, and endurance safely, then long toss is for you.
Playing long toss is not difficult once the entire concept is understood. Debates surround the exact cut-off for determining long toss, with some saying 120 feet long while others say 300 feet and above. At the field, do some stretching to reduce the risk of injury to your arm. Next, assume the stance where your shoulders face your target and your arms spread out in a T fashion as you prepare to throw. Start throwing through a short distance at a slow speed before increasing the effort. Stop as soon as you notice any fatigue.
This is an interesting overview of the topic, but we will discuss everything you need to learn about the long toss program and its benefits.
Long Toss Benefits
Amid the several benefits of long toss, five major benefits stand out.
•Loosening up your arm: Long toss helps to loosen the tension in your arms and increase their range of motion. This encourages increased blood flow, bringing in more nutrients that help to improve recovery from any injury, endurance, and relaxation.
•Throwing mechanics: The different distances and release points help to improve your coordination and subsequently your accuracy. This encourages a better feel, and it creates the awareness of your mind and body coordination.
•It is natural art: There are no fixed distances, throws, or amount of time ideal for practice. It all depends on several factors. What is most important is how your body feels. This is important because you can customize your routine and enjoy the practice.
•It is great as a warm-up: Long toss is a great way to warm your muscles up in training and even in the off-season.
•Great for building velocity: The range of motion gained from a distance helps to improve arm strength and velocity. Following the muscle physiology, long arm places the necessary stress and micro-trauma on your rotator cuff muscles, deltoid, glenohumeral joint muscles, triceps, elbow joint, and all other muscle groups in your arm. The result is that they get stronger, thereby allowing more room for explosiveness and velocity.
How to Long Toss?
Long toss is about generating that explosive power through gravity, across your lower limb, and transfusing it into your arms for the relevant results. It consists of several phases.
Loosening or stretching phase: The phase aims to lessen the tension that has built up in your arms and their joints over time. It starts with easy and relaxed stretches and throws at close distances while listening to the body and its response to this routine. There is no particular distance for you to cover with this. Rather, it depends on how far your arms allow you to move. Your legs are not left out of this. They provide the support needed to maintain your balance and position as you stretch. Once you feel that your muscles have been stretched well enough, you can move onto the next phase. It is important not to rush your way through this phase, as you would want to give your body the warm-up it needs.
Velocity phase: Throw the ball on a line. You must have control of your glove, focusing on each throw and hitting the target on the chest. Depending on the position you play, as either an outfielder, infielder, or pitcher, you would want to get into those distances that you normally throw and perfect your aim. You generate more speed on your balls and activate your muscles. Aim for two to five throws for every distance that you cover. The objective here is to try to maintain a loose arm action while reduces the arc of the ball and changes at the release point. At this point, you begin to observe how the distance throw correlates with velocity, and you start noticing the progress you have made. The pulldown phase is one that builds explosiveness on the platform of increased velocity. The idea, as the term, pull down implies, is to reduce the distance from the highest feet covered by decelerating sequentially from say, 360 feet to 60 feet.
You can enjoy long toss every day as far as you understand your body and its muscle physiology. Never play through pain and stop once fatigue sets in.
How Do You Know How Far Back To Go?
Knowing how far back to go is all about going through a loose arm action. A little more arch and effort moving away from your partner increases the distance for you. Listen to your arm all through the process.
However, your focus should be on stretching rather than throwing. Once you feel that you have stretched your arm to the maximum point, then you know that that is how far you can go. Thus, there is no universal distance for all individuals, just the same way individual arms differ. It all depends on what your arm is saying to you.
Long Toss To Increase Velocity
A lot of people do not get the increased velocity result that they seek because they go about it the wrong way. You can gain velocity with the right technique. The magic lies in the number of throws with the corresponding intensity of those throws. Work to increase this metric over time. Controlling your arc on the ball, and hitting your target with maximum intensity repeatedly definitely guarantees an increased velocity with your long toss.
Finish the Throwing Program at the Distances You Normally Play
Depending on the position that you play, you should finish the long toss program at these distances that you normally play.
Start Long Tossing
Contrary to infamous opinions that long toss may increase the number of injuries among players, the program has shown its numerous benefits on the arm and gameplay and has gone beyond to become an invaluable part of a player’s routine. Knowing how to play long toss would always be an advantage for you.