Padres instructional: Proper long toss

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Padres instructional: Proper long toss

- It's time for round two of our instructional. Earlier, we showed you how to grip the baseball. Now we're going to show you young players and coaches how the big leaguers strengthen their arms. Everybody seems fixated with getting in the weight room, but that's not the secret to being able to throw a baseball well, is it?

- Well, being strong is important, having good footwork out in the field is important. Having a good glove out on the field is very important, but I think one of the things that gets overlooked way too much is arm strength, especially for little leaguers, like you say. Going to a bigger field, having that arm strength is going to be-- it's going to give them more confidence, wanting to make a throw across the field.

And, I don't think it always gets worked on properly. You know, everybody wants to throw the ball straight, straight, straight, and that's taxing on the arm. And move out there a long ways, throwing it straight, when actually, the way to strengthen your arm is almost throwing fly balls. We want to get an arc on the ball, up high in the air, and see how far you can throw it. It's not as taxing on the arm. It's not stressful on your arm, and you're actually building strength.

- OK, so that helps the muscle, I would imagine, get longer, too, and get more-- more flexible.

- Yes.

- And the like. So when we talk about playing long toss, is there something you want to do physically, maybe with a crow hop, or with your footwork, to help you along that, or what should we be focused on?

- You know, if you're an infielder, work on your footwork after you catch the ball. That's your footwork to make the throw for a long toss. On the outfield, I'm going to do my crow hop. Either way, yes. You want to definitely have footwork, because it's not just standing there and throwing, so you want to have some momentum into the throw. And very important, after you throw in long toss for maybe five or 10 minutes like that, you actually want to bring it back in closer, and throw some straight so you reset your release point, so whenever you get the ball in the game you're not throwing it straight up in the air.

- OK, so you've got a young man out there, well beyond the wall, because you've got the big leaguer's arm. Now I don't know if he'll be able to be strong enough to return it to you, but give us an idea of what it looks like.

- So, when I say throw the ball, a lot of guys want to say, go long toss. They still stay very low. Actually think about it, especially literally throwing a fly ball, throwing it up in the air. Get some heighth underneath it, so you're throwing it far. That way, I'm stretching my arm. I'm getting good-- stretching my arm, I'm getting good stretch back here, and I'm building strength at the same time. So, if I'm crow hopping like this, when I get it, and throw it high.

- OK. Now you're already out there a little bit. And when we were young, I remember being able to fly out of the house, grab a ball and a glove, and just sending my buddy down the block, and airing it out. Do you recommend starting a little closer with that fly ball technique, but backing each other up to get loose?

- Yes, yes. And so, we're going to start normal. We're just going to throw a few easy ones, then we're going to start backing up, backing up, backing up, until our arms are loose. Now we start throwing far. Start throwing high and far, build the arm strength, and then bring it back in, reset our release point, and that's it.

- OK, but when you start bringing it back in, and you say set in your release point, does it also help in strength at that point to be airing it out and throwing it at max velocity at all? Or, does it not matter?

- So if I'm an outfielder, I'm going to work on-- really work on the outfield, throwing long one-hopper or something, so I'm going to practice throwing long one-hoppers to my person. You know, if I'm an infielder, he's going to come in a little closer. I'm going to try to hit him right in the chest for my throw across the infield. And definitely, you know, you get to the very end. You can max them out a little bit, because you want to be able to throw it hard, and have an accuracy. But, you know, a lot of times, whenever you get a kid and they try to throw max effort, the ball's going all over the place. I actually like to practice at about 85%, 90%.

- OK.

- Because you're more accurate, and the accuracy in this game is everything.

- All right, let's bring your partner back in, and let's walk over here and show these guys, if we can. Because these pairings have been working on their long toss while we've been instructing folks. Take a look at their technique, tell us what you think they're doing well, where you think they might want to improve.

- So these guys have brought it all back in, and now we're practicing on hitting each other in the chest. You know, that's one of the-- you play a game, you can play a game where you hit a chest it's one point. Hit them right in the face up in there, it's three points. And it just practices accuracy. We always say, "Aim small, miss small."

- That's great focus. All right, guys. Well, thank you very much. There are Spring Valley little leaguers here with us. Wonderful job, guys. Keep playing. Don't stop because of us.