by Darin Souza
Boys and Girls, air it out!!
In Part one of “Don’t Just Throw to Get Warm (link)” we discuss just that. Here are the key points from that article:
- Proper arm conditioning is necessary for good throwing mechanics, far more helpful than confusing verbal instruction.
- A basic 15 minute Long Toss session before each practice or game may be the most impactful thing you can do for your kids.
- Avoid too much teaching of mechanical adjustments and focus on an EXTERNAL goal, such as hitting a faraway target. Don’t just coach, train!
- There is a lot more to Long Toss than appears. While strengthening the arm it gets our players to fully engage their bodies, from the ground up. It does so in an athletic manner. This sets the stage for great mechanics and healthier arms.
A throwing program can and should be simple: devote the first 15 minutes of practice or pregame to Long Toss, and not just “playing catch” to get warm.
In Part One (Click Here) we provided a 10 year old example of a 15 minute program that progresses from distances (in feet) of 30–60–90–60–30. Think a 10 year old cannot throw 90 feet? The distance from 3rd to 1st base (and home to 2nd) is 84 feet.
While not all of our 10 year olds can make that throw, we won’t know HOW FAR they can throw by setting limitations. It’s much more worthwhile to throw a 3 hopper 90 feet than cap the distance at 60 feet. Those three hops will eventually decrease and the throws will grow stronger as your boys and girls get more of their legs and hips into the throw.
Here is a video of MLB’er Ryan Roberts for a great example.
Basially, long toss is a form of catch where you throw from a short distance, move further apart, and then back in. It also includes warming up your body properly and engaging your full body when you throw.
For your players, here are suggested programs by age:
Coaching the Session. Most important is to not overcomplicate the throwing piece, and avoid over-coaching technique and “mechanics”. One quick point on throwing arm action: at the point of stride the elbow should be up near shoulder height (not dropped down) and the arm should form a nice L-shaped. Remember this is long toss, not a side arm flip from second base.
Keeping them on time to complete the full sequence is most important. Some specific considerations:
- Watch the clock and average about 2:30 per section to keep within 15 minutes. Don’t cut it short. The bunt defense discussion can wait. Feel free to go a bit longer at first, but avoid over-interrupting the flow
- Don’t get preoccupied with arm action. Focusing on the rest of the body actually works wonders.
- Front side (hip, shoulder of glove side) starting pointed at the target, as opposed to facing him/her.
- Legs: active, athletic spring in their step. “Launch” forward for long toss, like a javelin thrower. Watch for straight legged, all upper body action.
- Follow through: the lower body should propel the upper body and throwing arm through the release. A follow through that is “arm only” is a sign that the hips and legs were not engaged. For a better follow through, start with the beginning!
- Don’t be bashful: take a look at this 20 second video for a good example of airing it out. (Video: Run and Guns) You can absolutely encourage a running start in a long toss session!
- Give it time, and know that they’ll get stronger. Encourage them to get closer to the long toss goal each time. Each kid’s goal should be the same: to throw it further and further.
Games are strongly suggested, and you can start a number of them with relative ease such as. Ideally, let the kids pick the game and even make the rules. Some ideas to get you started:
- Relay drill from the outfield wall to home: line up 3 or 4 kids and work on “racing” to home and back with relay throws.
- Run and gun: CF to the backstop. How far out can you go to hit the backstop? Can you go out further by the end of the season?
- Horse: Short, Intermediate, Long Toss Accuracy to a fixed target. Be creative with it.
The CYBSA Player Development Committee is here to help you air it out! Reach out to us at email@example.com if you’d like help with this or any type of training.