Thursday Throwing Tips – The Best Time to Start Long Toss Throwing Practice
Long Toss, Long Toss, Long Toss – Enough, Sometimes
I like long toss throwing because after doing it, shorter distance throwing seems easier and players have more confidence with those shorter throws after doing long toss. However, I am always leery of having young players do it because, more often than not, kids throw incorrectly when throwing a long distance. The minute they have to throw a farther distance than between the base paths, they step away from their target, open up way to soon, and put a great amount of strain on the shoulder and elbow.
Long toss throwing is maximum effort throwing, like pitching, so I prefer kids work on pitching to build up arm strength, whether they are pitchers or not by just throw maximum speed from short distances, without pitching. In this way, it is much easier for players to keep good mechanics. This does not guarantee kids will not overthrow and create the same throwing problems but it is much easier for coaches to recognize and control players’ mechanics. Until kids have ingrained habits and strong enough arms to handle long distances without changing their normal mechanics, try to stay away from long toss. Generally, kids around 11 or 12 should be able to handle it.
I am not saying long toss throwing has no advantages and may or may not build arm strength, but it is not worth the risk of developing bad mechanics and/or arm soreness or injury. Additionally, as mentioned, long toss is maximum throwing, so players should treat it like that and take rest days from all out throwing on days after doing it.