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Windmill Pitching Drills for Increased Speed: Long Toss

Several of my recent videos have focused on drills that develop lower body power. Today, I’m going to share a great drill for developing arm speed that is utilized by high level and professional players throughout softball and baseball: long toss.

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About the author

Phil

Phil Schonberg is a co-founder of Fastpitch Power, inc. He teaches all aspects of fastptich softball, specializing in windmill pitching and coaches' training.

8 comments

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  1. David Moore

    I absolutely love the long toss drill. We use it regularly in my daughters workout. I have to stress keeping proper mechanics during the longer pitches because she tries to “muscle” it to the plate sometimes instead of staying relaxed. Great drill.

  2. Phil

    Thanks for the comment, David. You are absolutely correct that the tendency in young pitchers, and in many cases even advanced pitchers, is to muscle up. One of the techniques I like to use in addition to doing the long toss drills progressively (if you move to too great a distance too soon the likelihood of mechanical breakdown becomes greater) is to have the pitcher freeze on the finish. I find that the focus on a relaxed end point will almost always result in a more relaxed delivery throughout the motion. Love to hear from you. Keep those comment coming.

  3. Fred Fitzpatrick

    Phil your video shows “Loss Pitch” and not so much “long toss” and to me there is a distinct difference.”Long Pitch” is designed to increase arm speed & velocity, “Long Toss” is designed to increase Shoulder strength with done in combinations as drills should help with both increased speed & strength, correct?

  4. Phil

    Terminology often differs from place to place. We may be talking about the same thing, although I am not certain whether you are referring to overhand throwing when you use the term “Long Toss”. I am using the term “Long Toss” to refer to progressive distance pitching with a windmill motion and you are absolutely correct that, in combination with other drills, “Long Toss” will certainly develop both speed and strength. The beauty of distance work is that, in my opinion and based upon my direct observation, it will enhance speed and power, simultaneously, in both the upper and lower body. As the lower half is forced to become more aggressive at greater distances, the upper half must add speed to keep up. I hope I have clarified your issue.

  5. Heather Gray

    Hello. My 10 year old has been pitching now for about 3 years. We practice in the yard 3-4 times each week. She has started lifting her pitching shoulder when she pitches. When she does this, it throws her pitch off. What can we do to help her get back to one solid motion and not “muscle” the ball?

    Thank you for your help.
    HeatherGray

    1. Phil

      This is a tough question, Heather, having not seen your daughter. However, it is a relatively common problem among very young pitchers who, due to varying degrees of physical immaturity, feel as though lift, an inappropriate engagement of the shoulder during the delivery phase of the pitch, is the only way to get the ball to their target.

      This belief is not correct. I have provided a link to a short video showing one of our students performing what we refer to as “forearm fire” (http://youtu.be/Q6iNeAPeMuY). Obviously she is on her knees, which is a very good method for correcting mechanical issues. As you can see, this drill isolates the lower arm (from the elbow down) at a point approximately halfway down the back side of the arm circle. This is a great drill to employ the proper hand path necessary to generate straight line acceleration and extension down the throw zone. Movement of the hand forward with a relaxed shoulder needs to be emphasized as a 10 year old will often hear and understand your instructions, but not be able to translate what they hear into correct body movement.

      It is crucial to see that the hand starts behind you in a palm up position and finishes in front of you in a palm down position with the elbow leading the lower arm to the back of the throw zone. This creates the fire/whipping action in the lower arm which will ultimately eliminate the perceived need for shoulder lift. Add a full circle with a stationary body after she appears to be getting the forearm fire drill.

      I always find it useful to break the pitch down to its simpler components and use isolation drills to correct mechanical flaws. Be patient. Remember that your daughter is only 10 and as she sees older girls with greater command and velocity, she may become impatient. Keep her smiling and she will continue to develop. Let us know how it goes.

  6. albert

    Hello my daughter is 14 and has been having problems with he windmill straight arm ,Bent on her way down before releasing the ball. Speed has dropped any drills to fix this.

    1. Phil

      Hello. Having not see exactly what you are referring to, I can guess that the problem is over-flexion of the elbow on the way down the backside of the circle thereby distorting the circle itself. This is a relatively common problem which often results in poor timing, lack of speed and command. If this is the situation, it almost always a matter of the athlete being unaware that the arm is over bending down the backside of the circle. Mirror drills are a great way to get and athlete to see exactly what she is doing. It is not even necessary to throw a ball. Stand in front of a full length mirror with the pitching arm side facing the mirror. Go through the pitching motion over and over making sure the arm makes a complete circle, while having the pitcher look and make a connection between what she sees and what she feels. Obviously she will not have a mirror on the mound so these repetitions should help ingrain the appropriate movement into her muscle memory. If this is not her issue, feel free to contact us again.

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