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Long Toss Could Benefit Your Pitchers

There is a reason big league teams pay starting pitchers several million dollars to pitch 30-35 times per year: their job is exceptionally important.

With a job that can sometimes single-handedly decide the outcome of a ballgame, pitchers need to do everything they can before, during, and after outings to maintain a high level of success. Part of that preparation on game day and between outings should be long toss, according to Bangor (Maine) youth baseball coach Forrest Mulheron.

“The last thing you want to see is guys throwing their arms out,” he said. “You want these kids to warm up naturally just a little bit at a time and you don’t want them wasting pitches before a start or wrecking their arm between starts because they’re trying to throw frozen ropes. It’s just about building up a little arm strength at a time.”

Different coaches give different answers when it comes to long toss. Some will say its great, others say its a waste of time or even detrimental — especially when overdone or done incorrectly. Mulheron sees the concerns some might have about the program, but he also stands firm on his opinion.

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“These coaches are all concerned that you (don’t) want kids overthrowing and I’ll tell you, they’re right,” he said. “That’s exactly what we don’t want. Our guys stop throwing when they’re comfortable and their arm feels close to 100 percent on game day, and then they’ll go to the bullpen and toss a few quick ones.

“Between starts, it seems like a natural way to get guys ready for their side sessions and not waste valuable throws when their arm is still probably a little sore,” he added.

Mulheron said how far his players throw varies and depends on both arm strength, age, and how many days it has been since they last pitched.

“Sometimes, it’s 120 feet,” he said. “Other guys — in college and the pros — can throw 300 feet. Really depends on arm strength. But where I coach, it’s usually around 120-150 feet at most for our top guys. When kids grow older though, it gets even farther.”

Between starts, Mulheron’s pitchers typically would not stretch out their arms as far as they would on game day. His pitchers also work at a slower pace, distancing themselves from their throwing partner at a slower pace when it’s not their day with the ball on the mound.

If his opinion is not enough, Mulheron has one major league reason why coaches should consider their pitchers doing long toss.

“The way I see it, there’s a reason why so many big leaguers do it,” he said. “They’ve got the best coaching staffs in the world and they think it’s a good idea. If it was a bad idea, I don’t think they’d be having their guys do it.”

As for the offseason, Mulheron said he would like to have his pitchers try long tossing during the winter. But living up in Maine, his guys only throw outside when the weather permits and space is limited in indoor facilities.

“It’s one of those things where if we get a nice day, I’d encourage them to do it,” he said. “I’d rather have them throwing like that then trying to overthrow their arm with max-effort pitches when they’re not playing for anything. That could end badly.”

From GameChanger and Tom Joyce.

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