“Hi I’m Billy Wagner, and I have three points I would like to talk to you about when I’m talking about a throwing program.
Long toss program – the warm up
It begins by using your whole body and starting at 60 feet, then moving yourself with your body momentum up to that 45 foot mark.
You’re not trying to throw the baseball at 100 percent. You are working your body into warm up mode and building up momentum. And over so many throws (eight to ten), I start to move myself (or the kid) back in five step increments.
So I throw two, three or four pitches and then I move them back. We work ourselves back depending on our positions. If we are outfielders we go out to about 180 feet. If we are infielders, we are looking at 150. If we are pitchers, we are looking at that 180 mark again.
As we get our body warmed up. Our arm gets warmed up. Our mechanics get warmed up. And the whole time, I’m not trying to see how hard I can throw the ball, but how I spin the baseball.
If I can spin the baseball, that creates the velocity. With that velocity, my mechanics have to be correct. So I have my arm and my body loose, now I can actually work myself back into my position.
If I’m a pitcher, I’m at 60 feet, 6 inches and I am working on my pitching mechanics. If I’m an infielder, I can work on different kinds of throws; side arm, three quarter… just to be active. I have worked my body into that situation so that it is warm and loose and I am not going to break anything down.
The normal tendencies for guys playing catch is to hurry up and get [baseball long toss, playing catch]done so I can move onto something different.
What my idea is, lets get our bodies warm so when we do build, we are building for that strength, the conditioning and the velocity. You don’t need to throw 100 throws to say you have played catch and thrown long toss at that long toss distance of 180-150 feet. You really only need ten to twelve throws, and it doesn’t need to be as hard as I can.
Once you have worked your body into that warm up and you are warm and loose, now you come back to your normal position at 120 or 90 feet to make those throws so that you make those functional throws. Now you can work on those functional throws, which will create and help your position.
[New frame. Billy is throwing now.]
So what I like to do to begin with, I start at about 60 feet. I start and get my body moving towards my partner… here (throws ball)… boom. I’m nice and under control. I’m in no hurry but I’m getting my body warm. Now as I get loose, my throws get to be firmer. I can take a few steps back and do the process again. Now the ball gets thrown back, I find myself moving further back and back.
Now, once I get all the way out to 180, I’m not trying to throw every throw on a line, I’m trying to throw with a nice arc. I’m not trying to throw a rainbow; I want it to have a nice arc that is either going to land one hop in front of him or that he can catch. I’m not trying to throw it over his head. I’m not trying to make him move, because I am working on a four seam spin.
I’m behind the ball creating that spin. My body is in control and everything’s got that nice behind the ball spin, and now I will get the carry I want.
Now once I work back in as a pitcher, then I can start working on my mechanics. I like to tell them, slow to fast. So once we get in here, I’m going to work slow, boom, to fast.
I’m going through my mechanical cues, with my head being on the target, my shoulders being square, the ball getting out of my glove, a nice pick up of my knee to my belly button and then I drive.
I’m not seeing to see how hard I can throw to this guy, because he’s not a catcher. I’m just trying to pick it up and boom. I’m hitting my target and creating that habit as I throw. I’m throwing it to the chest. So when I get it to the chest, then all it does is create that nice habit. So when I get to the game, I’ve already got that habit.
Now, what we talk about with our infielders is that when we get them back to 90 feet, now we’re going to play active baseball. We are going to act like we catch it here and drop it in, and make some throws right here and work on different arm angles; throws that I would use during the game. We are being active.
Then we work on quick hands. We move in and we are sitting here and we are just trying to be quick to it so they get used to the transfer. So everything in the warm up is an action and a function of what you are going to do in that day’s activities. It creates an active warm up. Your body gets loose with the ample amount of throwing without over-throwing.
The biggest problem you have is guys will go out and want to throw 100 throws in the day, when they really don’t need to be throwing 100 throws a day. If you throw 50 throws but you throw quality throws, you are getting the same build up and strengthening. If I throw 150 of those, they probably aren’t very good because I am tired.