Pitchers Long Toss
By Rick Peterson former pitching coach of the Oakland A's
The primary goal of this long tossing program is to increase arm strength. We believe that will increase velocity as well as provide a maintenance program for the arm to help reduce possible injuries. Pitchers should also develop a better sense of rhythm and balance. The final part of this program will enable pitchers to develop their change-up as they learn to increase arm speed and confidence with the grip.
Starters should have one long toss session immediately before bullpen work. Each will therefore get one session in between starts. Relievers can throw as many as two to three times a week depending on the number of innings and pitches thrown during the week. Availability is an important factor, so coaches must have a plan for this program using a future perspective and knowledge when and where a pitcher will be used. NOTE: A long toss session done early in the afternoon should have no affect on the pitcher's stuff for that night.
DISTANCE AND THROWS
Begin with a warm-up starting from about 45 feet. Pitchers make 10-15 throws from this distance and then move back two or three steps with each throw. Once you get to 60 feet, begin to crow hop on every throw. Continue until reaching your personal "maximum" Rick Peterson Long-Toss Excercise for Baseballdistance, which is determined by keeping the throws on a line with one bounce to a partner with not much arc. Pitchers remain at that distance for five to 10 throws depending on how they feel. Now move to about 70 feet. Continue crow-hopping, but new use the change-up grip and bounce the ball on the hop to partner or target. Make 10 or 15 throws like this. Time should vary between five and 10 minutes and the distances will vary depending on health and arm strength.
To gain maximum benefit from the long toss program, the mechanics of the throw should be supervised by a pitching coach. The pitcher is to use a fastball grip. It's critical that he use his natural arm action and angle. Pay particular attention to his angle and release point. The arm is to be fully extended out in front as if he were throwing off the mound. The hand should work behind and over the ball. The sinker ball pitcher should strive for the same rotation he gets off the mound, but he should get this spin by his hand not falling off the throw of manipulating the ball.
The long toss program is available to enhance your change-ups. Most causes of poor change-up revolve around poor arm speed. The throwing of a change-up from 70 feet with a crow hop and fastball arm speed is a tremendous drill for improving the motion of the change-up.
Once a pitcher is out to his maximum distance, you can have him pick up his target then close his eyes, crow hop, and then throw. This helps with body awareness, balance and direction. The coach will be able to see if he is too open, too closed, or just right by his direction to the target.
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