These are some of the many questions I get on a weekly basis. I have debated the effects of long toss on this site for years but as much as I would hope the baseball world would turn the page, it just doesn’t seem like it is going to happen. I am writing this article for those who actually care about the science and research behind this conventional training approach to pitching. If you don’t care and you are one of those guys who is going to do max distance long toss your entire career, no matter what science says about it, then good for you and I wish you the best. If you are someone who actually cares about your success and longevity in baseball, based on how well informed you are, then this information below will be eye opening!
The Myth of 300 feet Equals 90 mph
I love this myth. Those who believe it have a very poor understanding of physics. I believe I have an average understanding of physics and when I first heard this argument I was very confused. Something just didn’t sit well with me. I mean how can you calculate speed with only distance when the laws of uniform motion state that to calculate distance you need rate or time?
Velocity (V) = Distance (d)/Time(t)
I know throwing a baseball can not be defined completely as a uniform motion because the ball doesn’t travel in a straight line but still, if you only know the distance the object traveled how can you ever know velocity without its rate or time it took to travel that distance? I will leave it up to any math guru’s to educate me if I am completely off course here. My wife has a Masters in Mathematics at Cal State Fullerton and I asked her to hear my logic on this and she confirmed that yes, you can not calculate acceleration with only distance.
Scientific Proof that 300 feet Does NOT Equal 90 mph
So in theory and physics we have no proof that 300 feet equals 90 mph and now we have a case study, from the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) which is listed below, showing this myth may very well be completely false. The mean or average max distance thrown in the case study by ASMI was 292 feet and the average throwing velocity was 85 mph. I understand we have 8 more feet to go until 300 feet but I highly doubt this 8 more feet will equal another 5 mph. My reasoning is that in the same case study when the participants where throwing the ball 180 feet the ball velocity was 87 mph on average. Yes, there was actually an increase in throwing velocity when the participant was throwing the ball 112 feet less. Which brings this article to its most important discovery from the case study.
Max Distance Throws Do Not Increase Pitching Velocity
This is not based on opinion, I have proof. The data from the case study, performed at the most prestigious baseball institution in the world the American Sports Medicine Institute, has without a doubt shown NO correlation in max distance throws to pitching velocity or more specific throwing velocity. Even worse, the data shows a small correlation to a throwing velocity decrease with max distance throws. Yes, the average ball speed dropped once the distances increased past 180 feet. Even worse, the forces to the body increased while the distance increased and the throwing velocity decreased. I couldn’t think of any worse environment to develop a young or even a mature pitcher than in a max distance long toss program because you are increasing the pitchers chance of injury without increasing pitching velocity and developing mechanics that are not conducive to the pitching mound.
This isn’t just my understanding of the data from this case study. This case study was lead by the legendary Dr. Glen Fleisig who is referenced below. I have specifically pulled out the excerpt from the discussion section of the case study which is specific to the effects of max distance or extreme long toss on pitching velocity. It also states the mechanical changes that are not supportive of increased pitching velocity. If you don’t want to read the entire excerpt I highly advise reading the sentences that are in bold type.
Biomechanical comparison of baseball pitching and long-toss: implications for training and rehabilitation.
Fleisig GS, Bolt B, Fortenbaugh D, Wilk KE, Andrews JR. – American Sports Medicine Institute, 833 St. Vincent’s Drive, Suite 100, Birmingham, AL 35205, USA. – J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011 May;41(5):296-303.
It has often been hypothesized that long-distance throwing is beneficial to the throwing athlete for increasing flexibility, ball speed, arm strength, and endurance. A previous comparison of adult pitchers with high versus low ball velocity demonstrated 3 kinematic differences. Namely, pitchers with high ball velocity had greater maximum shoulder external rotation, forward trunk tilt at the time of ball release, and lead knee extension velocity. For longer throws, the current study found greater maximum shoulder external rotation but less forward trunk tilt. Furthermore, the current study found no differences in ball velocity for various throw distances, and approximately 10° of knee extension from foot contact to ball release for all throws. Thus the current study did not find greater similarity between particular distances of throws and the pitching mechanics of pitchers with high ball velocity.
In another study investigating changes within individual pitchers, several characteristics correlated with greater ball velocity. Kinetic values near the time of ball release (elbow flexion torque, shoulder proximal force, and elbow proximal force) increased with pitch velocity. For pitches with higher ball velocity, at the time of ball release, pitchers displayed decreased shoulder horizontal adduction, decreased shoulder abduction, and increased forward trunk tilt. The current study showed no differences among throw types in ball velocity, kinetics at the time of ball release, shoulder horizontal adduction, or abduction. Forward trunk tilt decreased with throwing distance. Thus, the current study did not indicate that particular throwing distances were superior in training to increase ball velocity.
The current study did find greater range of motion (maximum shoulder external rotation), speed (angular velocities of the pelvis, upper trunk, and elbow), and arm torque (elbow varus and shoulder internal rotation) in long-toss, which indicates that these throws may be beneficial in training. However, long-distance throws also produced changes in throwing mechanics at foot contact (up hill trunk tilt and foot position) and at ball release (forward trunk tilt and front knee flexion). Furthermore, maximum-distance throws produced the greatest elbow and shoulder torques, without any change in ball velocity, making these the least efficient throws, as they produced the most torque for comparable ball velocity. The benefits or detriments of long-toss cannot truly be determined without prospective studies comparing performance and safety between groups trained with and without long-toss.
Source – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21212502
Does Long Toss Stretch the Arm Out?
I have had this question come my way too many times. I just don’t understand the concept. I know a ton of pitchers and coaches who believe this but the research from the case study shows no evidence of this actually happening. The only piece of data from the case study above that may create the sensation of the arm feeling like it is stretching out when the pitcher performs max distance throws is the increase in elbow extension velocity. This means the arm is moving into extension during pitch release faster during max throws than at shorter distances. This arm speed increase during elbow extension would give that feeling of the arm stretching more but if you look at the rest of the data there is no other information that would prove it is actually stretching out more during max distance long toss. For example, from the case study data table illustrated below, shoulder abduction is actually decreasing during ball release during max distance long toss. This means the arm is actually moving closer to the body during ball release as compared to the shorter distance throws. This information proves that the arm is actually not stretching but shortening during max distance long toss.
It just shows you how weird the beliefs in this game really are. I continue to discover, through my research here at TopVelocity.net, that many of the conventional wisdom that is being coached today is just bogus.
Does Long Toss Improve Arm Strength?
This is a tough question to answer. First of all if you think of increased pitching velocity when you think of arm strength then I can’t answer this question for you until you do more homework on what actually generates pitching velocity. If you think the only way to strengthen the arm for a pitcher is to throw a ton then I can’t answer this question for you either until you do your homework on what actually generates pitching velocity. If you believe that you do not have to destroy your joints to build integrity in the throwing arm, then I can answer this question for you.
Max distance long toss proves to do a better job of cutting the grass on the field you are throwing on than building joint integrity. The study above focused mainly on the health benefits of max distance throws than pitching velocity and the final recommendation from ASMI was:
However, maximum-distance throws produce increased torques and changes in kinematics. Caution is, therefore, advised in the use of these throws for rehabilitation and training.
Yes, they used the word CAUTION when describing the use of max distance long toss for rehabilitation and training purposes. Should I say more? I will say more for those who want to learn about arm care. It is a fact that more force generated on the body efficiently and effectively will produce higher pitching velocities. It is also a fact that the more force applied to the body inefficiently, like during max distance long toss, and with a higher amount of throws, will lead to injury. The lesson here is to learn optimal high velocity pitching mechanics, like with the 3X Pitching Mechanics, limit the amount of throws per game, per practice, per season, per year and build enough strength to handle the stress put on the body. 3X Pitching believes the most effective way to do this and increase pitching velocity is with a throwing program that trains high velocity pitching mechanics with the least amount of throws and a strength and conditioning program that builds the elite power athlete. Learn more about the 3X Pitching Velocity Program and stay away from the 300 feet equals 90 mph trap!
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If max distance throwing decreases throwing velocity then idk how almost all of the jaeger students gain velocity. 300 feet doesn’t exactly equal 90, more like 320 is a consistent 90. The 180 foot throw having more velo than the 290 foot throw makes sense because at 180 you have a better late launch- (meaning force is being applied for a longer period of time). Also because it changes kinematics doesn’t mean it is useless, it increase external rotation and that has been proven to increase velo. There is a study done by Dr. Mike Axe that concluded that the farther an individual could throw a ball the more velocity potential.
Can you post that study by Dr Mike Axe? The study at ASMI showed a decrease in throwing velocity when the pitchers went from 180 feet to around 290 feet. Are you saying I am reading this wrong? I don’t know why Jeager’s students increase pitching velocity. Can you tell me? How can you say that 320 feet is a consistent 90 and then say it makes sense that the pitchers in the study threw harder at the shorter distance of 180 feet? The purpose of this article was to prove there is no proof that max distance long toss increases pitching velocity period. I am just hoping someone can provide that proof. Can you? I need legitimate proof outside of your own words.
I could not find the exact case study, but here is a quote from baseball prospectus:
Dr. Michael Axe, an orthopedic surgeon, has worked with the famed Dr. James Andrews and Fleisig by researching safe, effective methods to ensure the health of young, developing pitchers. In fact, the doctors will be working together on a new committee, which will study current practices and recommendations for pitch counts for amateur players.
Axe conducted a study in the mid-1990s about the impact of long toss. His findings indicate that there is a direct correlation between velocity and distance. In short, the pitchers who threw longer distances were the ones that also threw the hardest on the mound. Does this mean that Jaeger is on to something? Perhaps, but Axe expresses caution when making that conclusion. “It (distance) doesn’t equal velocity. It equals ability. People who throw farther, throw harder. It’s a simple physics formula.”
But the correlation between hard throwers and distance does lend some credence to Jaeger’s program. If it doesn’t completely validate his program, it does indict major-league teams that are still adhering to the 120-foot principle. Jaeger’s contention is that his long-toss program will help increase velocity. Axe, however is less enthusiastic about that type of impact with long toss.
“I don’t know if it will help him to throw faster, but it will build endurance and his speed,” Axe said. “It is a means to an end. A pitcher has an innate talent. Long toss can predict how fast he throws, it can strengthen the arm, and it is tool to rehabilitate the arm.”
In addition to that, Derek Holland’s velocity went up after the rangers adopted the program as an example.
320 is what I have been told by guys that throw 90+ and are on the jaeger program. 180 feet allows more trunk tilt and it is closer to mound mechanics so you should throw harder.
I really find this hard to believe. I believe you Davis just not this case study by Dr. Axe. I see other sources online talking about this study but there is no evidence that this study has been documented. Here is why I am skeptical. Supposedly Dr. Axe performed this “Long Toss Study” in the mid 1990’s with the Doctors from ASMI. Then in 2011 ASMI put together the long toss study referenced here in the article. Here is an excerpt from the study that is my problem:
No previous study has compared the biomechanics of flat-ground throwing and pitching. Therefore, it is still not known whether baseball pitchers use similar kinematics and kinetics during long-toss and pitching. Thus, the theoretical benefits of long-toss for pitchers remain unsubstantiated. The purpose of this study was to compare the biomechanics of pitching and long-toss throwing.
Why would ASMI make a statement like this in 2011 when they supposed did a study with this Dr. Axe on “Long Toss” in the mid 90’s? Just doesn’t make sense at all.
This is what really bothers me about the Max Distance Long Toss debate or any other old school approach to pitching or training a pitcher, there is too much hear say and not enough raw data showing the facts. It really pisses me off because it leaves us all in ignorance.
I am left once again believing what information I have on this issue which is the ASMI case study referenced above which shows a negative correlation of max distance throws to pitching velocity. I will continue to search for more studies to gives us some more science to support the truth in this debate. I hope you are as eager to do the same.
You are mischaracterizing Jaeger’s program. Jaeger’s going out phase is only one part of the program. Just as important is the warm up, stretching and coming in phase where throws are made on a line down to 60 feet.
The going out phase is also being mischaracterized by you and was mischaracterized by ASMI. Jaeger himself has guys go out as far as they can comfortably. Increases are made as the player builds more stregnth and has the ability to stretch it out farther. Are the results regularly 300 + feet? Yes.
Do you limit the amount of weight you lift or do increases occur? When these increases occur, do they stress the body? Is the stronger body able to withstand these stresses? How is this any different?
Guys really need to read through jaeger’s complete program before making assumptions, especially based off of a study from ASMI, who also did not look at the program and grade it, they looked at one phase.
Billy, I never once mentioned Jeager’s program in this article. Neither did ASMI. We are talking max distance long toss and its correlation to pitching velocity. I would rather stick to this debate and not include Jaeger’s program because I have had that debate already.
Here is the answers to your questions:
Yes, we increase weight.
Yes, the weights stress the body.
Yes, the stronger body is able to withstand the stress.
Olympic style weight training is different from max distance long toss when developing the high velocity pitcher because it mainly loads the big muscle groups with weight/resistance instead of the small muscle groups with max distance long toss but we still use joint integrity training to strengthen the small muscle groups. The 3X approach reduces wear and tear in the shoulder and elbow as compared to max distance long toss which studies link more throws per day, per game, per year to more arm injury (1). Most important to this debate is that there is scientific proof that links resistance training to an increase in pitching velocity but no scientific proof at this time that links max distance long toss to an increase in pitching velocity.
1. Eric D. Parks, MD* and Tracy R. Ray, MD – Prevention of Overuse Injuries in Young Baseball Pitchers – Sports Health. 2009 November; 1(6): 514–517.
I included Jaeger because he is the leading proponent of a sound LT program. I read your previous debate on that subject and with all due respect, that “debate” sounded like an infomercial, much like this one does.
I agree that resistance training increases pitching velocity. However, I also feel that a comprehensive throwing program, such as Jaeger’s, is very effective in velocity gains.
I am sorry my capitalistic nature annoys you! I am happy you support Alan Jaeger and his program. He is a nice guy!
Your approaches seem sound for the most part. I respect your opinion, but a lot of times your otherwise very informative articles turn infomercial. I really could care less about your capitalistic nature, let alone allow it to annoy me.
I appreciate and respect your opinion as well. I wish I didn’t have to promote my programs to help fund this website but this is the only way I have discovered how to budget my time to research and develop these informative articles. Thank you for your viewership!
Billy, do some research first before you decide to start sucking Alan’s dick
projectile motion: minimum velo per ultimate distance.
At 290 ft, you are more likely to try to throw with a high arc. At 180 if you feel good you will try to throw on a line. All the velo increase demonstrates is they probably threw on a line, and says nothing about long toss “decreasing” velocity.
Pathetic man. Seriously you should read the study because no doubt people think you are an expert, and you very well may be. But this article shows blind zealotry and not scientific reasoning. You could ruin someones career by saying stuff like this without backup.
You need to read the study because these are not my words man. This is from the case study above by ASMI:
Thus, the current study did not indicate that particular throwing distances were superior in training to increase ball velocity.
Furthermore, maximum-distance throws produced the greatest elbow
and shoulder torques, without any change in ball velocity, making these the least efficient throws, as they produced the most torque for
comparable ball velocity.
Brent, according to these quotes, you didn’t understand what this study was saying. This study was saying that throwing 300 feet is less efficient than throwing 180 feet, that’s all. For example, if a force of 10 newtons allows one to throw 100 feet, a force of 20 newtons does NOT allow one to throw 200 feet. It does not say that throwing farther leads to slower speeds in the long run.
I totally agree with you that long toss, particularly maximum distance long toss is a bad idea, but I disagree that this study scientifically proves your point.
This study found that 120 feet maximized the varus torque experienced on the mound at 60 feet. It also proves that it doesn’t train the mechanics used on the mound at 60 feet. So yes it does prove my point.
“Furthermore, maximum-distance throws produced the greatest elbow
and shoulder torques, without any change in ball velocity, making these
the least efficient throws, as they produced the most torque for
comparable ball velocity.”
Davis, I am curious, how do you respond to this statement coming from ASMI?
Honestly, I think they need to expand the study. Here is the best except that proves to me that long toss works:
Miller, a prized lefthander from the University of North Carolina recently signed by the Red Sox as a reclamation project, threw 97 mph and was known for long toss in college. Last year he barely topped 90. And Lincecum, who hit 98 on the radar gun routinely at the University of Washington, credits a return to a long-toss routine for saving his season (and for putting 3-4 mph back on his fastball) after a difficult August.
Critics of extreme distance throwing contend that it puts undue strain on the arm and say the upward arm angle needed to throw a ball 350 feet alters a pitcher’s mechanics. “Believe me, if long toss were the answer, we’d have everybody throwing 500 feet,” Benedict says.
But evidence suggests that rather than being dogmatic about one method over the other, throwing programs should be as individual as the pitchers themselves. Jaeger disciple Mark Rogers threw 100 mph as a Maine high schooler and was taken by the Brewers with the fifth pick of the 2004 draft. After two years in the Brewers’ 120 system, Rogers had two shoulder surgeries and missed the 2007 and 2008 seasons; after rehabbing and resuming the 120 program, he topped out at 87 mph. At that point, he consulted the Brewers and asked to be free to resume Jaeger’s program. “After my second surgery, I had to take my career into my own hands,” Rogers says. “To get the most out of my arm, I needed to throw more. I was lucky the Brewers allowed me to individualize my workouts so I could get back to the highest level.” While the other pitchers in the Brewers organization, along with hundreds of other hurlers throughout baseball, throw from the cones for a time dictated by a stopwatch, Rogers works his way out to more than 300 feet. Almost two years later, he is once again the Brewers’ top prospect and made his major league debut at the end of last season. In a minor league game, he threw 101 mph. “I don’t know how you gain velocity throwing from 120 feet,” Rogers says. “I know it works for some guys but not me. You can’t push the ball 300 feet. You have to get extension, use your body and use your legs, all the things that make you a pitcher.”
This is just hear say Davis. First off Tim Lincecum has not had a pitching velocity increase in his entire career. His pitching velocity continues to decline. http://www.fangraphs.com/pitchfx.aspx?playerid=5705&position=P
Also, you are referencing stories about pitchers who were once throwing in the upper 90’s. I want to here stories about pitchers who could no throw over the mid 80’s for years and then an extreme long toss program added 10mph to their pitching velocity. What evidence proves to us that these pitchers you have listed here actually benefited from the max distance throws? The problem with this kind of talk Davis is that non of this would ever hold up in court. You can’t present this kind of information in response to a scientific case study and expect to win the argument. You have no facts scientifically proving the correlations of long toss to the pitching velocity increase of these pitchers.
I was reading this cuz I wanted to see the benefits/ dangers of long toss. Just wanted to say you can calculate velocity form distance. As long as you are on earth (there is a constant gravitational acceleration) and you know the release angle ( which should be about 40 degrees to optimize distance) and from what I’ve seen most people throw at about 40 degrees when long tossing . There are other factors like air resistance and spin, but they don’t make much of a difference.
The problem is studies show at max distance you are not using the same mechanics as on the mound so it doesn’t matter if you hit 90+mph at max distance their is a good chance you can’t translate that velocity at max distance into mound mechanics.
I really wish that you would get a copy of the physics of baseball. While 300 feet does not always correlate with 90 mph (in fact 90 mph is usually at 310 ft), you are missing why we don’t need to take time into this equation. When throwing the baseball at a given velocity we exert not only a certain force but we give the baseball a number of rpm (rotations per minute), which can be upward of 1500-1800 rpm given on the path of the baseball. This increases magnus force and drag. As it leaves the hand of the thrower, it can be traveling at velocity x, and by the time it travels a given distance it slows down to velocity y. So basically you can only throw a baseball so far with a given velocity. The more velocity, the farther it goes. If it were a perfect system with no wind drag you would see v=d/t, and yes, 90 mph would mean a given distance at a given time. It just doesn’t work that way when including air drag (aka fluid mechanics). I’m a physicist at the undergraduate level and have taken a good deal of interest into the physics and biomechanics behind the pitching.
As for whether or not long toss increases velocity, remember, it depends where in flight you measure the velocity of the baseball. Also, it has been shown that those on a long toss program have increased velocity. Now, whose long toss program are you following? Some people do it wrong, and many don’t account for a long build up phase (extending out slowly and keeping the arm “loose” or stress free up to max distance), and many don’t allow for the pull down phase, which is extremely important in the long toss process. I think ASMI also has the long toss conundrum long, and in fact, as we know, studies depend highly on how they are conducted. I dare ASMI to work with Alan Jaeger and his program and then see if it does or does not increase velocity.
Whether you agree with me or not on these points, it does not matter. We will always be stuck disagreeing to some point about mechanics or routines, etc. However, I just want you to take a look at some of the coaches that use long toss in their program and have been successful. Eric Cressey is a big one, but the issue is making sure that long toss builds efficient mechanics, not bad habits, as is with ALL pitching drills.
I understand your loyalty to this art form but the science behind the correlation of max distance throws to pitching velocity makes this debate sound intelligent when it is really simple. If this approach worked then why doesn’t hitters use it? Why don’t hitters play more homerun derby in practice to build bat speed?
The problem is there is a better way to developing the pitcher than with throwing the crap out of the ball. I am just trying to help these young pitchers because all they are hearing is these max distance long toss loyalists screaming this conventional wisdom from the top of their lungs. These young pitchers need to learn that their is so much more to developing a Tim Lincecum, a Dylan Bundy than just throwing the ball 300 feet.
You are right there is so much more than developing a pitcher, and I hate when people try to develop like Tim Lincecum, Dylan Bundy, etc. See, thinking that just long toss alone will increase velocity is dumb, it may bring up your velo by a small margin, but it isn’t an end all velocity miracle. The same can be said for lifting. You can get big and strong, but it won’t necessarily make you a 90+ mph pitcher. Hitters don’t use it because hitting is about timing.
You can learn to take big, powerful hacks at a baseball. Just because you swing hard doesn’t mean you will hit it though. Home run hitting is good, it shows you have power, but being a consistent hitter is more than hitting home runs.
As for the study, Brian is right. You take a look at one session and call it a velocity decreaser! That is like saying you are going to run an athlete through a heavy strength session and expect them to gain strength immediately. How foolish does that sound?
Christian, yes there is no magic bullet to increasing pitching velocity but there are tons more case studies that link body size and weight/resistance training to pitching velocity than max distance long toss (1,2,3,4,5,6). I didn’t bring up hitting to debate hitting but is not generating high pitching velocity about timing as well? I was comparing pitching velocity to bat speed not hitting consistency. Studies also link weight/resistance training to bat speed/power and more homeruns (7).
In response to your last paragraph, it wasn’t just me that said velocity deceased, it was also the words from ASMI.
Thus, the current study did not indicate that particular throwing distances were superior in training to increase ball velocity.
Furthermore, maximum-distance throws produced the greatest elbow and shoulder torques, without any change in ball velocity, making these the least efficient throws, as they produced the most torque for
comparable ball velocity.
Don’t kill the messenger. The point of the article was not to say that weight training is more effective when working to increase throwing velocity than max distance long toss in one session. It was that this case study proved that you actually are throwing harder with less forces at 180 feet than at close to 300 feet. I guess I didn’t do a good enough job making that point.
1. Escamilla RF, Ionno M, deMahy MS, Fleisig GS, Wilk KE, Yamashiro K, Mikla T, Paulos L, Andrews JR. – Comparison of three baseball-specific 6-week training programs on throwing velocity in high school baseball players. – Department of Physical Therapy, California State University, Sacramento, California, USA. – J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jul;26(7):1767-81.
2. Lehman G, Drinkwater EJ, Behm DG. – Correlation of throwing velocity to the results of lower-body field tests in male college baseball players. – School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. – J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Apr;27(4):902-8.
3. Wooden MJ, Greenfield B, Johanson M, Litzelman L, Mundrane M, Donatelli RA. – Effects of strength training on throwing velocity and shoulder muscle performance in teenage baseball players. – J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1992;15(5):223-8.
4. Escamilla RF, Fleisig GS, Yamashiro K, Mikla T, Dunning R, Paulos L, Andrews JR. – Effects of a 4-week youth baseball conditioning program on throwing velocity. – Andrews-Paulos Research and Education Institute, Gulf Breeze, Florida, USA. – J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Dec;24(12):3247-54.
5. Werner SL, Suri M, Guido JA Jr, Meister K, Jones DG. – Relationships between ball velocity and throwing mechanics in collegiate baseball pitchers. – Texas Metroplex Institute for Sports Performance, Grand Prairie, TX 75050, USA. – J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2008 Nov-Dec;17(6):905-8.
6. Carter AB, Kaminski TW, Douex AT Jr, Knight CA, Richards JG. –
Effects of high volume upper extremity plyometric training on throwing velocity and functional strength ratios of the shoulder rotators in collegiate baseball players. – Department of Health, Nutrition, & Exercise Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark 19716, USA. – J Strength Cond Res. 2007 Feb;21(1):208-15.
7. Miyaguchi K, Demura S. – Relationship between upper-body strength and bat swing speed in high-school baseball players. – J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jul;26(7):1786-91.
You are right, there are a ton more studies, but resistance training/weight training has been studied a lot more than long toss effects. Pitching is about timing yes, but you don’t have someone trying to screw up your timing while throwing, versus hitting which is about someone trying to screw you up.
I got your point, I just think the study is poorly done. You shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss long toss. If there is another way to increase velocity, you should consider it. Any little increase in velocity can mean the difference between a contract or none, a starting position or a bench position, etc.
I do not dismiss long toss. I have continually on this site pointed out that my disagreements are with max distance long toss. I have develop what I call 3X Power Throws which allow a pitcher to play long toss but will prevent him from going farther than his body can generate stride power. It also forces the pitcher to uses his 3X pitching mechanics to throw long toss instead of his flat ground throwing mechanics which the case study proved was an issue with max distance throws.
Terrible terrible article Coach Brent. Confirmation bias at its worst. You should be ashamed.
1- It requires a certain amount of velocity to throw a ball 300 ft. Physics says with optimal trajectory, ball rotation, and no wind resistance i.e. wind speed 0 mph, the minimum velocity required is actually about 86-87 mph. Assumption is that trajectory will not necessarily be optimal, and 300 is a nice round number, so using it as a rough estimate is valuable. Therefore, if you throw a ball 300 ft, it had to have left your hand at at least 86 mph, but most likely a little higher than that.
2- The study showed only that in one long toss session. not as a training method. The abstract said “The benefits or detriments of long-toss cannot truly be determined without prospective studies comparing performance and safety between groups trained with and without long-toss.”
The main benefit of long toss is that it provides Objective Feedback for throwing velocity. The ball has to be travelling at LEAST 86 mph for it to go 300ft. Therefore, if you throw 300 ft, then you released the ball at least 86mph, but probably more.
Objective Feedback is crucial, I would hope you would agree, in oly lifting as well. Imagine training with weights but without the kg/lbs numbers on them. You would really know if you were lifting better one day or another because we can feel great and lift poorly or feel terribly and lift great. same goes for throwing.
Too often kids have poor feedback- like a coaches observation and then coaching cues, as to their throwing velocity. You cannot tell if someone is using good mechanics by watching someone because the business end of throwing happens too fast for any eye to see.
The best method would be to have radar guns on at all times so kids could correlate the feeling in their bodies with real numbers. That would be pure, instant, objective feedback. However, not everyone or every team has $1300 for a proper set up, so untile then, long toss is the best indicator.
Definitely not ashamed! Ashamed is something you feel when you know you did something wrong. I have done nothing wrong. I think you are overreacting to the article but no big deal. I will not take it personally.
I am very aware it takes some amount of velocity to throw a ball 300 feet. I am dyslexic not retarded. Your 86-87mph estimate of 300 feet is actually correct because if you read the study from the article by ASMI the average velocity during max distance throws was around 85mph but the debate here is 90mph not 85mph.
I also understand the limitations of this study. This is why I, like you above, added my opinion of the effectiveness of using max distance long toss to increasing pitching velocity to the debate. This is also why you called my article bias, which was correct because I inserted my opinion. I am waiting anxiously for the case study that covers the effectiveness of using max distance long toss for an entire training of at least 8 weeks on pitching velocity.
So far I completely agree with your post above, expect for the terrible terrible article thing and saying I should be ashamed! I also totally agree with the objective feedback and using a radar gun to correlate body feelings to velocity increase. I actually talk about that here: http://www.topvelocity.net/pitching-velocity-quick-tip5/
Where we disagree is your final 3 paragraphs. I have developed a system to objectively evaluate the pitching velocity potential of a pitcher that is far superior to just using max distance long toss which is archaic and will be proven so in the very near future. I measure vertical jump, broad jump, 60 speeds, power clean max, back squat max, bench press max, power to weight ratio, grip strength, med ball velocity, and throwing velocities within the 3X drills to determine the pitching velocity potential of a young pitcher. This way I can more accurately analyze a young pitcher and actually pin point his strengths and weakness to the body part or system. This is a lot more effective than just telling a pitcher 30 more feet and you are 90mph. Because is that 90mph that will convert to the mound or is that 90 mph that will not tear up in the next year? I have had tons of pitchers come from a max distance long toss program because either it didn’t convert or it caused serious elbow and shoulder problems due to their mechanics issues that were not being addressed.
Your last statement that for a team to have the capability to use a radar gun at all times would cost $1300 makes you sound archaic. You can get a Bushnell radar for less than $100. Check it out it is pretty awesome!
I admit I spectacularly ceded the high ground in this discussion, and I apologize, but I still have to take exception to the title and first two paragraphs of your article as beeing incredibly and inexcusably misleading, especially from someone who calls himself an expert in pitching mechanics.
The study does NOT prove long toss decreases pitching velocity. No debate. None whatsoever. All it proves is that it requires a certain amount of velocity to throw a certain distance at a certain arc, unders specific atmospheric conditions.
Calling the “300 ft equals 90MPH” a myth, quoting physics, saying your wife has a math degree, and then getting grade 10 projectile motion wrong is a deep and profound concern to me.
Using the study which shows 290 Ft is about 85 MPH as “Scientific Proof” that 300ft doesn’t equal 90mph and the whole thing is a “Myth” is like if I said “it is -6degrees (Celsius) outside, you should wear a coat”, and you replied with “It’s only -5 so I am going tomwear shorts and to heck with you for telling me otherwise”… and being a weatherman.
Apology accepted! How is the two paragraphs incredibly and inexcusable misleading?
I did not say anywhere in this article that long toss decreases pitching velocity. I said MAX DISTANCE long toss decreases pitching velocity. How can you then say the study does NOT prove (MAX DISTANCE) long toss decreases pitching velocity when the case study clearly lists the average throwing velocities decreasing from 180 feet to 300 feet? Are you reading the same study?
How did I get grade 10 projectile motion wrong when I quoted uniform motion. I also said in the article that I was open to any math guru who wanted to correct me on this. If you are so concerned then please accept my invitation and educate us on how to calculate that 300 feet equals 90 mph.
Love the weather analogy. I have no idea how it relates to using max distance long toss to increasing pitching velocity but it was funny!
Apology accepted! How is the two paragraphs incredibly and inexcusable misleading?
I did not say anywhere in this article that long toss decreases
pitching velocity. I said MAX DISTANCE long toss decreases pitching
velocity. How can you then say the study does NOT prove (MAX DISTANCE) long toss decreases pitching velocity when the case study clearly lists the average throwing velocities decreasing from 180 feet to 300 feet? Are you reading the same study?
How did I get grade 10 projectile motion wrong when I quoted uniform motion. I also said in the article that I was open to any math guru who wanted to correct me on this. If you are so concerned then please accept my invitation and educate us on how to calculate that 300 feet equals 90 mph.
Love the weather analogy. I have no idea how it relates to using max
distance long toss to increasing pitching velocity but it was funny!
Brian, maybe you should become scientifically literate first before reading something like this. Otherwise, you’re making yourself look like an idiot
Im a baseball player and an engineer and your lack of knowledge in the physics department is annoying… The whole point of the long toss distance equalling velocity is to say that a ball thrown at the optimum angle would have to be thrown at minimum velocity x to reach that distance. This is just basic physics its not something thats debatable. So you can figure out the optimum angle including air resistance plus the rotation of the ball and figure out the minimum velocity needed to throw it a certain distance. Velocity is a vector so the minimum velocity would be the magnitude of those to vectors…basic stuff here…
and btw i long tossed everyday and never had arm problems and three of my teammates who didn’t long toss all tore ligaments in their arms and/or had chronic tendinitis…I’m not a doctor but long toss is good
I know this science from ASMI is hard to take in. Just look at the comments on this page. It is becoming a support forum for extreme long toss addicts. I am glad I can help. Now repeat after me, “Extreme Long Toss is hard on my arm. My arm does not deserve this kind of treatment and I will work to treat my arm with better care in my pitching career.” Now, do you feel better? If not then you are a true addict and you will need to hit the bottom before you can truly recover. Therefore keep your extreme long toss program going and when your elbow swells up like a grapefruit then you can come back to this forum and I will do my best to help you rebuild your pitching career!:)
Thats just laughable. Most arm injuries occur from not throwing enough. I literally long toss and then throw a 30-50 pitch bullpen everyday and my arm feels amazing.
What is laughable is that you make a claim that “most arm injuries occur from not throwing enough” and you cite no reference to any case study to prove your claim. This is called talking out of your ass. Here is a case study from ASMI who found that:
Good luck finding a case study that proves overusing the throwing arm is good for the shoulder and elbow.
I dont man havent gotten injured yet. Thats my arm talking.
When it blows up on you just let me know. I have gotten pretty good at helping pitchers recover from the damages of extreme long toss.
Karl, I think you might blow your arm from being stupid and ignorant
What u comment is correct i agree u and max distance depends upon angle of throughing and it is projectile motion
Hi Brent,this is your article translated into Italian and published on my website. I hope you will please.
Paolo, I love it! Please do more!
There are a couple of points in the study that are not covered, so are misleading. (i) The relationship between release speed and release angle. (ii) The difference between a variant parameter and an invariant parameter of a motor program.
The range equation of projectile motion relates the range to release speed, release angle, release height, and gravitational acceleration. In this article it is assumed that release speed is equal at all release angles, and release angle is not included. This is not true, release speed decreases as release angle increases, so release angle matters. This relationship between release speed and release angle is why long jumpers takeoff around 20 degrees and Olympic throwers release around 35 degrees, instead of the mathematically optimal 45 degrees. Think about your ability to complete a push up or a bench press versus your ability to complete a handstand push up or a shoulder press. The handstand push up is much more difficult, partly because you are forced into using less powerful muscles. When you pitch your release angle is below the horizontal, you are able to use larger and more powerful muscles, and you are able to tilt your trunk forwards (because the release angle is down). When you throw for distance your release angle is above the horizontal, you are forced into using smaller muscles (or in a mechanically disadvantageous way), and you are not able to tilt your trunk forwards (because the release angle is up). If you decrease release angle there will be a corresponding increase in release speed, because of the biological relationship between release speed and release angle. The phrase “the current study did not indicate that particular throwing distances were superior in training to increase ball velocity” is missing “at different release angles”. You cannot directly compare release speeds at different release angles.
The increased shoulder and elbow torque at increased distances and therefore release angles indicates that the mechanical advantage was worse at the increased release angle. This does not mean they were the least efficient throws, because you need to correct the release speed for the release angle. If you test the efficiency of your car by driving at 50 mph on a flat road and 45 mph up a hill, you can’t ignore the hill and claim that 50 mph is most efficient.
As discussed by motor program theorists, a motor program for movement consists of two types of parameters – variant parameters (things that vary between trials) and invariant parameters (things that do not vary between trials). Invariant parameters are relative, i.e. % based. Think of walking, if you speed your walk up, you take longer strides and your walking speed increases. This means you are walking faster not that you are walking differently. If you look at the % of time spent in swing and stance and the balance between left and right, you will find they are the same regardless of walking speed, and this is what is used to decide whether or not a movement is different. The only invariant and % parameter in this study was stride length as a percentage of body height, and this was not different between any of the differences. The fact that the absolute angles were different is to be expected, and only shows that the pitchers were throwing further not differently.
So this article really only shows that long tossing and pitching have different release angles and different variant movement parameters, and that those factors were not considered for this article.
Great analysis but as you stated the higher release angles used smaller muscles to generate speed. This is why the elbow torques went to excessive levels which is also why they concluded that these were the most inefficient throws. When trying to increase ball speed it is best practice to also reduce the loads on the small muscle groups. This is what I believe is the best information to come out of this study.
To determine whether a torque is excessive or not, you first need to know the threshold for danger. Increasing torque from 200 ft.lbs to 400 ft.lbs sounds bad, but if the injury threshold is 1000 ft.lbs then that increase is not a big problem. There is no information available about the precise torque/force threshold for shoulder or elbow injury. So saying excessive is incorrect, because you don’t know whether it is excessive or not. Greater is correct.
I wrote “using smaller muscles (or in a mechanically disadvantageous way)” the second part is also important. Muscle activation was not measured, so the torques presented here were net joint torques calculated using inverse dynamics, and are for the joint as a whole, and cannot be attributed to individual muscles. Muscle torque and net joint torque are quite different.
The goal of throwing for maximum distance is to throw for maximum distance, not to throw at maximum velocity. Throwing for maximum distance requires an optimal combination of release speed and release angle, not a maximum release speed. Throwing for maximum distance is less efficient in terms of torque to release speed, because the goal is to throw as far as possible, not to throw as fast as possible. Throwing for maximum distance is less efficient for release speed, because release speed is not the only factor to meet the goal.
And this difference in efficiency does not speak to training. It is less efficient in terms of release speed to throw for maximum distance on a throw-by-throw basis. This does not mean that throwing for maximum distance is a poor way to train to throw for maximum distance. You need to look at training effects to evaluate training effects. Since this study did not look at any training effects, there is no way to use it to evaluate the effect of training style on pitch velocity development. If this study had taken two groups of pitchers, one group training with maximum distance throws for a while, a second group training with a different method for a while, and then compared the maximum velocity of each group’s fastball pitches before and after the training, then they could comment about the training effects. This study shows that the velocity in the long toss is less than the velocity in a fastball. The effects of long toss throwing on pitching velocity was not studied.
Steve another great analysis. It is obvious that you also take caution against this form of training a pitcher due to the fact that we do not have enough information to quantify this training method. Until we have studies that produce a definitive conclusion based on all the data needed to close the case on what is the best training method to produce an elite pitcher then the only training methods we should be using to train pitchers is pitching at 60 feet 6 inches in a game situation. Would you say this is correct?
http://www.nj.com/mets/index.ssf/2014/07/mets_reliever_vic_black_finds_long_toss_key_to_his_hard-throwing_success.html No science behind it just results
Interesting they use John Niese with the Met’s as an extreme long toss example, his career has been plagued with injury from a partially tore rotator cuff to a partially torn ucl: http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24609267/mets-place-lefty-jon-niese-on-15-day-dl-with-shoulder-strain
I agree that extreme max effort long toss can be damagIng to the shoulder and elbow but I also belIeve far mor InjurIes occur wIthmax effort bench press, power cleans, and squats. box jumps broad jumps, trap bar deadlIfts, leg raIses, push ups, and chIns wIth band work for shoulders should be enough to develop a pItchers body. this coupled wIth constantly seekIng perfectIon of mechanIcs Is optImal for a long healthy career. also hIll sprInts.
Would like to see any studies linking injury to these lifts like the studies that like excessive torques to extreme long tossing.
This seems to me a relatively simple problem of projectile physics. With a fixed distance (300ft), gravity force, take-off height (6ft), target height (4 ft), and assuming a constant air resistance/friction (can be 0 for the purpose of this example), it will take progressively less initial velocity with correspondingly higher launch angles to complete the arch. For example, with a 40 degree launch, it only takes 67 mph to reach the target. With a 20 degree launch, the required velocity jumps to 82 mph, and with a 10 degree launch, it would require a 112 mph throw to span the 300ft. Therefore, without limiting launch angle, seems counterintuitive that increasing distance only would help increase throw speed. However, as the study suggests, there probably is significant inefficiency in a 67 mph/40 degree or 82 mph/20 degree throw to place undue stress in under-supported/unstable joints.
Making an accurate throw to a specific target entails countless subconscious brain calculations, and left to its own devices, the body will look for the most efficient way to achieve the goal based on its resources and limitations (I suspect mostly muscle strength and joint/hip/spine flexibility). If the target is at 300ft, the brain will “suggest” the launch angle, and the degree of effort required to reach it, probably with an “economy of movement and energy expenditure” policy. The low hanging fruit for the subconscious is raising the launch angle, which means changing mechanics, muscle recruitment, hip/torso angle, etc. Whatever muscles or mechanics are used here probably do not translate to position players throws or pitching.
Maybe a more productive way of utilizing this information for training would be to work backwards. Set limits for launch angle by establishing a vertical physical restrain (i.e. ceiling), and challenge the player to make an accurate throw with proper mechanics to a set target distance. For example, a target set at 150 ft with a ceiling only allowing 14 ft of maximum throw arch height would require a 77 mph throw. Increasing the distance to 180 ft would require 85 mph with same arch height limitations. Keeping that distance but decreasing the ceiling height to 12.5 ft would require a 90 mph throw. The launch angle difference between the last 2 is 1 degree only. Figuring out the distance limit that a particular player can throw while keeping proper mechanics would serve as the starting point, increasing distance slowly as training progresses, while maintaining a set limit to his launch angle.
Brent – about your statement that distance alone can’t predict velocity. Imagine 2 pitchers throw the ball so that it leaves the hand the same height above the ground and it’s thrown parallel to the ground in each case. Gravity will act on each ball the same and cause them to hit the ground after the same amount of time. If both balls hit the ground after 1 second but the first ball was thrown 100 ft/second and the second was thrown 50 ft/second then the ball thrown faster will travel twice the distance of the ball thrown slowly. That’s physics. The same idea applies to long toss. If 2 pitchers throw the ball at the same launch angle then the velocity the ball is thrown will determine its distance.