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Essay 6: Brent Strom
2004 WebBall Pitching Challenge
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3 Reasons for Long Toss

Brent StromBrent Strom Former Major League pitching coach for the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals, Brent Strom has also been the pitching coordinator for the Montreal Expos and Washington Nationals, and now spends one week each month at the new Texas Baseball Ranch in Montgomery, TX, when not on the road providing the highest level of baseball instruction at seminars and clinics coast-to-coast. (Click to close.)

Long toss, yeh or nay? If so, which camp are you a devotee of?  Elevated shoulders with no limitations regarding time and distance or controlled mechanics, on line throwing with prescribed times and distances?
As a coach dealing with elite pitchers it is often difficult to sell the intent, purpose and reasoning behind our throwing program which includes long toss. In dealing with the elite pitcher and long toss my philosophy has been shaped by...
  1. A great pitcher
  2. The researcher
  3. And what I intuitively enjoyed.
Long toss philosophy can be summarized by the following terms: "air it out" and "teach the body and arm what it feels like to throw hard without limiting factors."
Taking Long Toss to the Mound

My experience has shown that elite pitchers regain command and timing off a mound immediately after long toss. There is no transition phase or loss of timing. In fact, command and looseness often decreases as game time approaches and the freedom to throw becomes the burden of pitching.

The Great Pitcher

Sandy Koufax once told me, "the purpose of my pre-game mound work was to feel the ball coming out of my hand with life, timing, and the feeling of freedom. Control and command will come once in the game with the hitter, catcher and umpire placing me in familiar surroundings.

He didn't care if his fastball hit spots or he threw his curve ball down.  In other words, "don't place too much emphasis on making pitches in the bullpen." This is the same feeling we achieve with long toss where there is no reason to 'tighten up'. Control is not an issue.

Think of it this way. Do amateur golfers generally put a better stroke on a putt of 30 ft. or 4 ft.?  Do we generally make a better pass at the golf ball from 150 yds or when we are in-between clubs making half swing shots into the green? Long toss done correctly starts and helps sustain looseness without constraints that pitchers covet. Koufax was able to do this at 60'6". If you can't match the Koufax mindset then elevated long toss may help.

The Researchers

Moving a catcher back 15 ft. and throwing all pitches can help alleviate that common feeling of cutting pitches off. Long toss catcher-back (CB) throwing allows the thrower to feel spin bringing the ball to the desired location. Long toss change-up throwing allows for the intent necessary to reach your partner, thus insuring arm speed. To quote one of the leading new researchers in throwing mechanics...

"The purpose and benefit of long toss is to challenge the body to throw as hard as possible by setting the goal  of throwing as far as possible and teach the body what's like to throw the ball as hard as possible without having to worry about strikes."

Intuitive Enjoyment

I have given you my take on what the greatest pitcher in baseball thought while throwing. I have mentioned a researcher whom I believe is at the cutting edge of throwing.

Lastly, I include a not-so-scientific, personal opinion... As a kid I really enjoyed a game of burn-out and throwing as hard and as far as I could. It got me to the pros. That alone should count for something.

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