This post was taken from Alan Jaeger’s new book (with permission) “Year Round Throwing Manual”. If you’re not familiar with Alan, he’s considered THE expert when it comes to Long Toss. Read more here.
You may at first ask, what does “Mental Training” have to do with throwing. Well, perhaps an easier way to answer this question is to ask what you think the effect on your arm (body) would be if your mind was in a clearer, calmer and more focused state, both on and off the playing field?
We’d like to think that this makes a lot of sense when it’s put this way.
Not only do we feel that your arm, body and mind are in a more advantageous position to train and develop, but most of all, having a Mental Practice routine in place can promote a number of significant benefits, including: Clarity, Relaxation, Focus, Awareness, Discipline, Confidence, Energy, Quieting of the Mind and Peace of Mind.
Considering that your mind can play such a major role in both your physical and mental well being, it would seem like a good idea to invest into this part of your game.
For more information on our Mental Game Talk & Guided Breathing Exercise, please visit the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7h4er5U38SU.
Position Player, Catchers Mechanics: Macro versus Micro
“Your Best Mechanics Come Out Of Long Toss”
Because there are so many different “arm actions” based on a players position, we’ll get asked if position players (especially infielders and catchers) should max out their distance in Long Toss if this is going to “alter” their mechanics and promote a “longer” arm circle.
Our answer to this question is pretty simple — YES.
First of all, as in the case with pitchers, whatever mechanics that are “altered” during long distance throwing (release point, arm circle, etc) are “corrected” on the way back in during the Pull Down Phase of Long Toss. We’d argue that there are actually benefits from “training” the body (mind) to adapt and acclimate to different athletic movements for the big picture anyway (see below).
The reason this occurs is because whatever “length” the arm got via the Stretching Out Phase, it is essentially “forced” to get shorter (quicker) as you move back into your throwing partner, assuming you are Pulling Down without decelerating. And even in the case that a position player feels like he didn’t completely “get back” to their position specific arm circle, we would have them go out to their position specific distance after they completed their entire Long Toss session and work specifically on that particular arm action. In the case of a catcher, regardless of how “long” his arm got after a Long Toss throwing session, we’d have them go back out to 127 feet and work on their catcher’s arm action and mechanics.
Though, it would seem like it would make sense to simply stop at the appropriate distance on the way “back in” from the Pull Down Phase, we actually prefer all players to “finish” their Pull Downs because of the benefits (athleticism, explosiveness, repeatability) that come from finishing your throws as you get closer to your partner. Once the entire Long Toss session is completed, again, this is when you can go back out to your position specific distance if you feel a need to work on your arm circle, release point and mechanics.
Again, we strongly recommend that you begin to crow hop as soon as possible in your throwing session, and maintain your crow hop through the end of the throwing session. Remember to crow hop off of your right leg if you are right handed (back leg), and left leg if you are left handed (back leg).
Just as you would go back out to your position specific distance to “re-acclimate” your arm circle and arm action, we would suggest that you do the same regarding your footwork. Remember, whatever degree that you “came out” of your position specific “leg work”, it can be corrected rather effectively once your Long Toss session is over by going back out to your position specific distance.
In summary, the essential point to understand is that we want all players to first think about the major benefits of Arm Health, Strength, Endurance, Feel and Athleticism from Long Toss by stretching out and pulling down in as an athletic way as possible (Macro). Once the Pull Down session is over, feel free to go back out to your position specific distance and work on your position specific mechanics and footwork (Micro).
Note: Outfielders are the one position where you can consider to work on your position specific mechanics during the Pull Down Phase of Long Toss, considering that your arm circle, release point and mechanics are probably identical to the throws that you would be making in a game. Again, in a perfect world, we would still want outfielders to come all the way back in to their throwing partner to get the benefits of the Pull Down Phase of Long Toss.