Long Toss Drills

By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

I am willing to bet that if you are a pitcher, you have been told at one point or another that long tossing is great for your arm. If you have not heard this, I am telling it to you now. Throwing the correct forms of long toss will help a pitcher increase his velocity as well as help the arm stay in a healthy condition.

When you hear the words “long toss”, many people immediately assume throwing the ball as far as possible. This is not necessarily what long tossing is. Before you start throwing the ball as far as you can, you must keep in mind the two different long toss methods that can be used. Airing it out, and throwing on a line.

Airing it out is what most people think of when they hear “long toss”. The pitcher tries to throw to his partner as far away as he can (or can’t) reach. The players gradually increase the distance between them until they can no longer make their throws on one bounce.

This “airing it out” method has its time and place in a pitcher’s throwing routine. While some people say that airing it out messes up a release point, others argue that doing this before a start is a great way to get loose. Both viewpoints are correct. Airing it out is great if a pitcher wants to get his arm completely loose, but doing this form of long toss on a daily basis can be harmful on the arm and can negatively affect the release point.

Another method of long toss is throwing on a line. This is when two players start out playing ordinary catch, but they keep backing up while still throwing the ball with little to no arc. The key is to throw the ball as far as possible while keeping it on a straight line. When the players can no longer make the throws on a straight line, they bring it back in to finish out the exercise. This form of long toss is good for building up arm strength. Take heed however, because doing a lot of this before a start can bring fatigue to the arm and decrease performance.

Mixing up the two different long toss exercises is a great way to increase overall arm health. A pitcher’s velocity will increase, as will their arm flexibility. Knowing when to use each type of long toss is crucial to keeping the arm in prime condition.

Many pitchers choose to use a long toss program in the off season to increase their arm strength. This is a great way for a pitcher to increase is pitching ability, and when done properly is great for the arm.


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