Everyone agrees that the ability to throw the ball harder is always going to be a benefit. If you are a catcher throwing out a would-be base thief, or an outfielder trying to gun out a runner at the plate there is no doubt that the greater the velocity the better the opportunity to make the play.
Every team and player needs to develop a throwing program that will help improve their arm strength. The good news is that you don’t need a lot of equipment to accomplish this goal. While an overall weight program that addresses total body strength is going to positively impact a player’s arm strength, it’s not the most important ingredient.
The most important part of an arm-strengthening plan needs to be an organized long-toss program. All players should do some long toss every day they throw. The key is understanding how to use long toss to build up the arm rather than tearing it down.
Throwing the ball hard is an inherently damaging activity. The amount of acceleration and deceleration in overhand throwing is just plain bad for the arm. I can’t think of any movement that is so crucial to the playing of a game that is also so bad for the body.
So if throwing hard is bad for the arm then why long toss? Great question, if I say so myself.
The damage is done when throwing the ball hard on a direct line. Watch most players throw and you will see that, after a too short warm-up period, players start throwing missiles to each other. The ball is low and hard and tearing up their arms. During long toss, when done the right way, the arm is built up not torn down.
The Fastpitch Prep Long Toss program includes the following keys:
1. Slowly increase the distance between throwing partners.
2. The ball must have an arc to it. A good rule of thumb is that for every 25 feet of distance the ball should have an additional 5 feet of arc (altitude).
3. As the distance increases, the player should use their legs more and more to create power.
4. The goal each day is to increase the distance we’re throwing a little bit each time.
5. When reaching the maximum distance we want to throw approximately 10-12 throws at this distance.
6. After completing the number of long-toss throws the players should begin to slowly decrease the distance between partners. It is very important to continue to keep the arc on the ball.
7. When partners reach about 40 feet apart, they can remove the arc from their throws.
The program should only take about 10-15 minutes but will pay off tremendously in both are strength and arm health. Commit to this program and you will see dividends. Stronger is always better!
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.
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