Raise your hand if you have ever lost a game because of a bad throw. Okay, now that everyone has a hand raised, are you happy thinking about that fact? Do you want to change that? Come along for the ride!
All softball players should be using a long toss program, no exceptions!
What is long toss? It is a throwing program that basically is summed up by it’s title. You build arm strength through a series of throws that include throwing much greater distances to increase a players arm strength and thus their ability to throw the ball with more velocity and greater distances.
Most medical experts seem to agree that the deceleration players experience when they throw hard is the reason for the majority of arm injuries. A good long toss program lessens the amount of deceleration while working to build the shoulder up rather than tear it down.
Rule 1: The throws in a long toss program have an arc on them. the greater the distance the greater the height of the arc. This reduces deceleration while strengthening the arm. NO LASER BEAMS!
Rule 2: You must include your long toss program into every practice and game day, warm up routine. Long toss, once in a while, is like eating healthy once in a while. It’s okay but it surely isn’t getting the results we could achieve.
Rule 3: You start close to your throwing partner and gradually increase distance. As you increase distance you increase arc. Your goals for each day should be slightly greater distance and slightly increase number of repetitions. When you reach your maximum distance for the day make as many throws as you are comfortable making.
So what can we expect our players to gain? There are several things, in addition to increased arm strength.
A healthier player
Better range of motion
Greater endurance for those long weekends
Quicker recovery from many throws and ideal preparation for the more aggressive throws that take place in games and practice
A more natural thrower. Long toss is a more relaxed and fluid form than the proverbial laser beam. The motion you develop while making long arching throws is more natural. That creates much more natural mechanics.
A stronger thrower. Long toss increases arm strength because of the increased range of motion that is developed. The long, loose, fluid motion promotes the strength that is tapped into when more aggressive throws are made.
A more accurate thrower. Long toss forces each player to work on many different angles, release points and effort to make the different throws at different distances. Each time the player makes one of these inherent adjustments they learn much more body awareness. This awareness creates a more accurate thrower.
A more aware thrower. Since we are putting our players in charge of the amount of throwing they do at their maximum distance each day they are learning what their body is capable of and what they need to continue to develop. Awareness leads to enthusiasm and “learnability”.
Long toss, a must-have for any team.
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.