Sunday, May 8, 2011

Long toss for pitchers is questioned.

"Biomechanical Comparison of Baseball Pitching and Long-Toss: Implications for Training and Rehabilitation", Flesig et al JOSPT 5-11.

Basically the authors are saying that you get to a point where kinematics are changed too much to have any transfer value to pitching.  That point is well taken.  What I'm wondering though is if it will be beneficial in producing the soft tissue adaptations to the shoulder & elbow that might carry over to the sport.  And, will adding in a little long toss a few times a week be enough to interfere with the motor learning process of pitching.  Is long toss something we need to throw out all together?

Remember Frans Bosch's definition of strength training; "coordination training with resistance", which states, "an ideal form of training should be able to provide a greater workload than an athlete's current stress handling capacity can deal with, while also complying with the criteria that must be met for an optimum transfer of training.  However, overload and specificity are not mutually compatible.  If one wants to include a large overload in training, then one must always deviate from some of the characteristics of goal or competition oriented forms of training" (Bosch '05).

Does (long distance) long toss meet this criteria...provided it is done in the right context?


sal m said...

I have never understood the long toss, especially for experienced pitchers. Rather than remove it altogether, could it be that LT is useful early in a player's development, but not so once pitchers develop/start to specialize?

I look at the LT kind of like the bench press. Or kind of like sprinters or team sport athletes jogging instead of sprinting?

I keep thinking about Bonderchuk's findings that the best training methods are as close as possible to the real event, so throwing a different weight hammer is better training than squatting or doing push-ups.

Could the short toss using mechanics closer to pitching be more effective?

Joe Przytula said...

...good point Sal, along the lines of my thinking...then once you have the soft tissue adaptations you move on to something else. Lets see what Frans has to say about it.

Joe Przytula said...

Here is Frans Bosch's response to my post:

I do understand the discussion, but am not an expert on throwing to take a position .

Some theoretical considerations;
Overload should be seen as more than more weight and bigger forces. Variation (different forces) is an important aspect of overload. This means that deviating from the ideal technique can be seen as overloading. And that is where is becomes complicated; you need to be specific to have transfer, but you also need variation in order for the system to become active for adapting. Two controversial needs.

An interesting question in this regard would be; is there a ideal, precise technique within an individual. If there is than variation may quickly become negative for proper technique. If not and if also for experts there are differences between trows than variation will not easily will have negative effect .
Interesting from a dynamic system perspective is the notion that variation in technique is a key element of good technique; this means that a good pitcher shows more technical variation than a lesser pitcher (the opposite of what you intuitively would expect). Also proven in cricket

Variation in that perspective also is key for rehab and selforganisation of tissues. This could mean that the differences long toss show will help . Schollhorn progressed this idea into differential learning concepts with protocols with quite extreme variation in technique.

I recommend Movement System Variability by Davids Newell Bennett. Brilliant book on this subject.



JM said...

Great topic. Lots of questions... Are those using weighted balls during tossing ahead of the curve? How much weight is too much to throw for an elite pitcher given the size and weight of the standard baseball? and are we scrapping the flat ground work and only throwing off the mound? When is the best time to introduce this training? Studies do show that the UCL of elbow fails at relatively low load? I realize it's the "movement, not muscles" and there are large dynamic forces working during pitching, but working with pichers, myself, I would be extremely apprehensive walking that fine line. Group thoughts?

Joe Przytula said...

JM- Much like Socrates, you've answered your question with a question. And your concerns regarding UCL, labrum etc. are also Flesig's...and ours. But thats where experience comes in; developing a menu of the proper progression, frequency, and intensity to produce the intended adaptation response. Using hamstring strains as an example; many coaches are afraid to do too much top end speed training in practice because of injury risk. Yet, if you avoid top end speed training all together, you will never neuromuscularly stimulate the hamstrings in the context in which they perform. And wind up with the injury you were trying to avoid in the first place.

Fernando Martínez said...

I am a trainer of athletics in Spain.
I would be charmed with it compertir experiences with you.
I leave the link them to my personal blog.
Http: //

BJ Maack said...

I'm a little late in the discussion due to the stringinent demands I had to tend to at the beach last week. Lots of things that required my attention (waves, sand, beer) but I took care of it. Anyway, forgive the tardiness....
I view long toss as an important part of an arm strengthening program. I learned early on in my baseball career that the best way to strengthen the arm is to throw. Later I learned the "whys" behind cannot replicate the movement & velocity needs of throwing with any training device.

I am always open to learning new things and adjusting my training programs. But I like to include long toss, especially in a rehab standpoint, as a tool to let the arm "go" and really stretch things out. It is then done in conjunction with mound-specific work.

I see the concern of LT not being position specific for a pitcher. I see it as a tool in the big toolbox.

Joe Przytula said...

Thanks for weighing in BJ...and Bosch is on our side too. Again, great PBS Frontline piece.