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Avoid “Jaeger’s PULLDOWN’S”. Gain Arm Speed without LONG TOSS

Written By: Justin Orenduff

No long toss, no strength program, no game situation, just better mechanics

No long toss, no strength program, no game situation, just better mechanics. 92mph without ever throwing a ball past 60 feet.

The best part of this article is you can gain all the arm speed you want without ever having to pick up a baseball.  Cool huh?  Don't worry about trying to find 360 feet of space in order to get to 95mph, just stay within the comfort of your own home and work on building up your velocity with "The Gateway Drill" found below.

The overwhelming problem with Jaeger and his long toss advocates is they believe VELOCITY, ARM SPEED, MPH, has everything to do with training and focusing on specifically The ARM.   Stretch it out, massage it, let it stay loose, all terms described with the lengthening phase of the arm.  More Jargon... "build the arc, extend it out, keep good mechanics, stay healthy."  My interpretation...stretch out your capsule, overwork and extend your shoulder, get longer and looser arm action, get out of synch AND let your arm follow the path of injury.  I have quite a few personal accounts of pitchers who loved Jaeger's long-toss program at first because they saw short term gains in velocity but now sing a different tune because they constantly battle injury.

When do we ever throw 360 feet bombs in a competitive situation?

Buzzer!! This is the Wrong Approach!  Let me ask you a question....  Has Jaeger ever explained why his program anatomically/structurally makes sense to the body?  Works with the body?  Muscles firing properly?  If we are looking to sprint faster, would we run 3 to 4 miles to warm up, then run a 100-meter dash?

Will Fox and I are preparing Baseball Rebellion's Thrower Development Program because we are tired of all the injurious throwing programs that exist within the culture of baseball.  Realize VELOCITY is a product of efficient mechanics and proper activation of muscles before a performance.   Stop yanking on your arm to see if it can throw the length of a football field.  Want to know why Jaeger's program creates stress and is unhealthy?  I'll let Will Fox explain.

Former Baseball Rebellion Functional Movement Specialist Will Fox Explains

The goal of this article isn’t to rip Alan Jaeger, but rather to question the validity of his information. I’m sure Alan is a nice guy and genuinely cares about his players, however, the problem is that the information he is associated with and the perspective he has implemented in training a baseball pitcher is fundamentally flawed. The culture of baseball is thick with ideologies and beliefs in which people fail to question the validity of.  For example, are we really going to sit here and believe that the best way to keep an arm healthy is to put it through a long toss regimen that exponentially multiplies the stress of an already unhealthy motion (something that Jaeger endorses, by the way??)?.  There is absolutely no concrete evidence to support that, only tradition. So how did it get so popular then and why is Alan Jaeger such a huge name? Once again, the culture fails to question the validity. Instead, people continue to take the information for gold because of the name associated with it. Jaeger makes legitimate points when he says things like “your arm is your lifeline, you have to treat it that way,” or “as long as we continue to neglect this area we are going to be limited as players.” However, his methodology contradicts these claims.  In the following paragraphs, I am going to dissect the information that Jaeger has written and endorses, and in doing so I will propose a different way of thinking about the body and how it works. In the end, if you can separate yourself from the name that it is associated with, I think you may agree with me. Here it goes.

THE REAL TRUTH BEHIND ALAN JAEGER'S LONG TOSS PROGRAM

All the points illustrated below come from and are listed in Alan Jaeger's own words from his website.

 Jaeger claims that when the arm is stretched out through long toss, it will expedite recovery time and increase stamina.

Unfortunately, not only is there NOT a strong scientific database to support these claims, but it just doesn’t make sense! For those who aren’t aware, throwing a baseball is one of the most volatile and explosive movements in all of sports. Additionally, it just so happens to heavily involve the most unstable joint in the body. This combination makes it unhealthy! So let me get this straight. We are going to exponentially magnify the unhealthy stress of throwing a baseball by long tossing and we expect that to help our recovery time? Guys, c’mon! If anything, this is going to drastically reduce recovery time because of the extra stress placed on the shoulder musculature and the passive constraint system (i.e. ligaments/joint capsule). As far as stamina goes, I don’t know how increasing the risk of overuse helps endurance or stamina. When a muscle gets overused it contracts less efficiently. Guess what? I don’t think you want to do that when your shoulder is rotating between 6,000-7,000 degrees/second. Just saying.

 "The arm wants to stretch out daily"

Ouch! Why would we want to do this to our arm?

Ouch! Why would we want to do this to our arm as often as possible?

This is a pretty touchy subject for me, but I’ll try to be as brief as I can. In this industry, people constantly assume that the body needs more and more range of motion. When is enough, enough? Even if your body did want more range of motion, is it smart to try and achieve this through something as harmful as throwing a baseball? Let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about. The position of late-cocking (i.e. layback, maximal external rotation) is actually a closed-packed position of the shoulder. AKA it doesn’t like being forced further in this position! Now, what do you think is happening when the equivalent of a 60-pound bowling ball is forcing us further into that position (which actually happens btw!)? You guessed it. More stress=forced range of motion. Let’s not forget to mention that that 60 pounds is surely increased with long toss. Which brings me to my next point…

 Jaeger claims that guys who long toss will increase throwing velocity (which actually may happen), but at what expense?!

As stated in my previous point, the arm undergoes massive stress throughout the throwing motion, especially during the late-cocking phase of throwing. When the stress exceeds the mechanical ability of the muscular system, more range of motion is forcefully acquired. What does this mean? Further, lay back means more distance that the arm can travel through, which equates to greater velocity. Here’s the catch: If you are acquiring this range by essentially exceeding the ability of the muscular system to resist that stress then you have compromised the shoulder joint! The health of the shoulder 100% relies on the ability of the muscular system to efficiently contract and support the shoulder. An inability to do this leads to vulnerability. Therefore, the range acquired through long toss isn’t healthy but is rather a short-term gain that can lead to loss of velocity and shoulder problems down the road. Fortunately, Baseball Rebellion is here to provide an option that can produce the same velocity gains, only without the unnecessary added risk.

“Pulldown phase helps generate arm speed”

As Justin will highlight further in this article, cueing a pitcher to pulldown their front side can be costly in regards to shoulder health and longevity. The reason for this goes hand-in-hand with my previous points: it causes undue stress at the shoulder and elbow. As a pitcher pulls down their front side, their arm becomes separated from their body and causes it to drag through. This leads to something called hyperangulation, which increases the stress on the front part of the shoulder. Once again, the arm is more exposed and less connected with the body, therefore the musculature of the shoulder will overwork and eventually lose the battle with the stress being placed upon it.

“The reality is that keeping the ball on-line prevents the arm from getting stretched out”

Keeping the ball on-line is what you should be after as a pitcher! Why you ask? Because this most closely resembles an actual in-game simulation. The goal of long toss should be accuracy, so why break down your mechanics and change your ball trajectory just so you can boost your ego. Additionally, it seems like preventing the arm from getting forcefully stretched out may be a better decision for the health of our shoulder based on what we talked about previously.

 “Promote health, strength, acceleration, and endurance with long toss”

Ironically, based on everything listed thus far, it seems that long toss actually does none of these very well. It exponentially increases stress on the shoulder in an extremely vulnerable position, thus increasing the risk of overuse on the shoulder and therefore negatively affecting health and endurance. It isn’t going to do much for strength either. As far as velocity goes, it’s a safe bet to assume that gains made can be attributed to capsular and ligamentous lengthening (i.e. the passive stuff) as a product of excess stress. In the end, the muscular system will continue to get abused which is why we see more and more arm problems nowadays. Guys that have endured these programs have done exactly that. Endured.

 Conclusion

In summary, there is little to no rationale for long toss programs, at least the way Alan Jaeger endorses them anyway. There are far safer and more efficient ways to increase velocity, with the best way offered here at Baseball Rebellion. As far as a throwing program goes, stay tuned.

The PULLDOWN...

Front arm activation in the throw might as well be the death sentence for the optimal release point out in front of the body.  If the mind is focused on pulling and actively engaging the front side to initiate the throw the result will always be far inferior to what the body is truly capable of producing.  If the power output of the throw is centered around the front arm pulling back into the body, the potential to recruit the proper muscles in order will be substantially altered.  The opening of the rear hip socket must be combined with the arching of the torso into thoracic extension and MUST create the pattern of movement into any thrower's rotation of the body to deliver the baseball towards the intended target.  Overall, when the mind is concentrated on "pulling down" the front arm, the body can never reach proper rotation at foot strike.  It simply happens WAY too early.

A better alternative

Below you will see Aroldis Chapman initiating rotation and moving into thoracic extension.  This is the movement you will learn with "The Gateway Drill".

Aroldis Chapman moving into the Gateway Drill

Aroldis Chapman moving into "The Gateway Drill"

 THE "GATEWAY" DRILL (2013)

Why GATEWAY?  Because if you master it, it will provide the gateway to VELOCITY.  Simple enough.

THE "GATEWAY" DRILL (UPDATED 2017)

How to properly execute "The Gateway Drill"

"This is an advanced drill, and will take time to master"  

  • Use drill with a set of Rebel's Rack Bands.  If you don't have a set of Rebel's Rack Bands you will need to be able to connect your set of bands to a low attachment point (fence, wall, chair, etc...)
  • Start off in a base stance.  Back foot squared off and lead foot pointing towards the target.
  • Stance will be a wider base.  Feet two inches outside of the shoulder.
  • Elbows will be aligned.  Front elbow slightly higher than the shoulder, back elbow slightly lower than the shoulder.  Hands below elbows preferably.
  • The band wraps around back and comes up under armpit.  Hook with the thumb.
  • Create tension in the band and force the front arm into position.
  • Initiate the movement by rotating the back hip and allowing the torso to move into thoracic extension (backward).
  • Always remember you are simulating a throw.  Think about throwing forward to the target.
  • After the hip is synched up with the movement, built the speed into the trigger.  See how fast you can move into the desired position.  Repeat as often as necessary until you feel you have a firm grasp of the rotation.
  • Practice in front of the mirror.
  • Advance into playing catch but don't think about the drill.  JUST THROW THE BASEBALL. THE PATTERN WILL TAKE OVER.

This drill will improve how your body fires and initiates proper trunk rotation.   If you need any further assistance, please contact the current pitching instructor at Baseball Rebellion, Dave Shinskie at  dave@baseballrebellion.com

Best of Luck!

 

 

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44 thoughts on "Avoid “Jaeger’s PULLDOWN’S”. Gain Arm Speed without LONG TOSS"

  1. rob says:

    Really cool article, have thought about this several times but figured since everyone always praised Jaeger it had to be correct. When getting into the wide stance, should heels be aligned to create the maximum amount of hip rotation in the drill? thanks! looking forward to the next article already.

    1. Rob,

      Good to hear from you. I’m glad you enjoyed the article, hope you are doing well. Yes, the drill is to be performed in the base stance (heel to heel alignment).

  2. Steve Black says:

    Justin, solid job. but I have a few questions (and this may get too long) – I’ve been a big fan of long toss and really finishing it with the pull down phase. When I first met you you were very generous with your knowledge and time and I first want to thank you. I love the thoracic extension move – that add on really builds a solid program –
    I have Jaeger’s program and up to last year followed it and added ‘explosive training style’ moves to it: Basically looking for ways to add sets in the following manner: Overload, Overspeed, Game speed.

    My thought was most players don’t “train” their throwing enough – they play too many games. I was chided by local experts but the proof was me. 47 yrs old – an old scoped shoulder, limited external rotation strength and I “overtrained” to get an arm that could out throw almost all H.S. players and have more consistency, accuracy, and shoulder health – Here’s what I overtrained with:
    I looked to LT w/PullDown 3x week 1 or 2 of those were MAX effort and stretch and use bands on 5-6 days. I felt like my arm was bullet proof. I added positional throws to the pulldown phase or after – such as infield throws, side arm, and catcher style pivot and snap throws. Not one of the H.S. kids could stay with me re: duration. Distance wise I was good but not extreme getting into the Mid 80’s yardage.

    The big question is if a player utilizes the proper mechanics (thoracic extension, arm inside the body) how often would you throw?
    I generally used three types of days: Max Effort (re: length and duration) – to exhaustion; Max Repition: Generally go out to about 60 – 65 yds (~80% of max.) and just throw sets of 15- 20 Pulldowns – Rest between sets and do about 5 – 6 sets. Then just a loosen it up type day maybe out to 70-75 yds and just LT no pulldown.
    Second Q – do you like the idea of Overload, Overspeed, Game Speed – this is the same thing as Rebel Rack Overload/Overspeed/ Your gateway drill would just add a first element of reversing the band.

    Best to the Rebellion,
    steve

    1. Will Fox says:

      Steve,
      You’re right. Players don’t spend near enough time training their throwing, instead they focus on training their arms by either throwing in games or participating in modalities such as long toss. Although you have had success with this type of training, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was the most optimal solution (especially in regards to sustainability).
      1. In response to the Big Question: This depends on factors such as time of season, overall workload, etc., so it’s tough to give you a straight answer on this one. I know that’s annoying. However, I think it’s safe to say that a player shouldn’t be throwing at 100% everyday. It also depends on the goals of the throwing session that day. I certainly wouldn’t throw everyday with the intention of increasing arm speed or arm strength, but it’s a different story if you’re trying to work on some aspect of your delivery while throwing a light bullpen. Each time a player even comes close to maximally using their arm it needs to be done in a setting in which they are working on their game-day mechanics as well. Each rep is significant.
      2. As for your second question, I think training at game speed is super important (it just all depends on the time and training block). Overload and overspeed training elicit undue stress on the arm. Throwing a bullpen at maximal intensity with proper body utilization is plenty if the goal is to increase arm speed. If the goal is to increase arm strength, there are much safer ways in doing so.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      -Will

      1. Steve Black says:

        Thanks Will – I think of positional players mostly not so much the specificity of pitching.
        Just want to double check on the Overload training – I’ve done this in a few ways for everything from running to hitting to throwing:

        e.g. For Hitters with Rebels rack: 6 to 8 reps (3-5min rest between sets if using a bats and tee work). Each set is a progression from move 1 to 2 to 3 (up to 5 full sets).
        1 Overload – Reversing the band and Pulling against it focusing on Thoracic extension, hips then pull/turn shoulders. Slow is fine feel the moving parts.
        2 OverSpeed – Band wraps around back and the superthrust move is accelerated – hold balance and let it fly (hips then shoulders)
        3 Game Speed – drop the Rack and bomb it Superthrust with Arms crossed hands touching shoulders. Feel the move at full speed.
        If I use 8 reps – that is 120 full reps. (w/5 sets)

        Thinking this way will work for Throwers With Gateway Drill:
        1 Overload – Reverse band Loop over non-throwing arm and thoracic turn is away from band resistance.
        2 OverSpeed – Same as Justin demonstrates
        3 Gamespeed – Use the Horse stance (I think J says base stance) and throw, with concentration on the same thoracic extension move.

        You guys are always great and much appreciated.
        steve

  3. brian allen says:

    I was at the triple A championship last year at the DBAP. Reno Aces vs Pawtucket Red Sox. We got there early to see the teams warming up. Trevor Bauer (Reno’s Ace pitcher, Now an Indian) was warming up by throwing from the fence at left field all the way to the catcher at the right field fence. He could sling some bombs but I thought to myself, that seems weird.

    Anyway, this article reminded me of that day.

    Red this ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trevor_Bauer ) the bottom of the wiki it actually mentions this warm up:

    “Bauer has gained notoriety for his unusual workout and warmup regimen, which includes long toss at distances of up to 400 feet”

    1. Brian,

      Thanks for the comment. Yes I have read that he has worked with Ron Wolforth and Alan Jaeger and his system of preparing his body for each competitive throwing situation involves long tossing before games. It’s unnecessary.

  4. Korey says:

    Justin, what are your thoughts on alternative methods to strengthen eccentrically the muscles of the rotator cuff? Methods such as oscillation exercises, weighted balls or wrist weights. Many instructors promote these techniques for not only velocity gain but health. Can these be injurious in the long term?

    1. Korey,

      Hope you guys had a great time in Myrtle Beach. Let me know where you are in the process of changing schools. That is a great question for all readers. When Will Fox gets back from out of town on Monday we will post a response for everyone to view.

  5. Ed Sniffen says:

    Thank you for the video and your assistance in all aspects of teaching. Would you mind posting a side view of the drill? It would really help me sink up what Im seeing when working with my son from both the front and side. I really appreciate your time.

    1. Ed,

      No problem. Let me get back in the building early next week and I will post a side view of the drill back in the article and on youtube. Make sure your head stays focused on a target and your head remains over the back hip.

  6. Randy says:

    Another eye opening article and another example of why my boy takes hitting lessons from you guys. Great info and evidence to back it up. Somewhere I was taught that long toss was the only way to a stronger arm. I don’t have Jeager’s program but I do long toss with my boys a lot. A question that I would like to ask is if my kid is not a pitcher, is The Gateway Drill still the better way to strengthen his arm and/or improve his throwing mechanics?

    1. Randy,

      When i was in high school I always worked towards throwing the ball over the centerfield wall from the RF foul line. I finally did it one day, but now I think about how many throws it took me to do it, and how much stress i was adding.

      The gateway drill will help with training the initial trigger of rotation to start properly but you also have to have the body moving properly and synched to allow the benefit of the gateway drill to take effect. The drill is a small component of the process but it directly trains speed. Our thrower’s activation warmup/shoulder routine with bands is our way of making sure the arm is responding properly to performance, and provides a system of strengthening between bouts of throwing.

      Better mechanics is the quickest route to improved velocity. Just make sure you know the right set of mechanics!

  7. Mike Santoro says:

    Hi Justin,

    Wish I would have read this 10 years ago and could have saved my arm from shoulder injuries. Two questions, 1) would you alter this drill for catchers and infielders? 2) do you have any objective data to support your claims about gaining velocity by using this drill?

    Thanks for all your help!

    1. Mike,

      At some level we are all guilty of launching baseballs as far as we can because we believe that’s our quickest way to gain arm speed. But, we now know it’s not the best route. The drill is designed to speed up the trigger of hip rotation into the throw. Once the coordination gets fluid through the process the result is going to be faster. Infielders and catchers could shorten the stance up more perhaps, just make sure if you have guys do the drill, they start with their head behind the back hip.

      In terms of objective data, yes we have plenty of footage and radar numbers to validate the velocity gains within students of all ages. More importantly the gains are happening on the field. For instance we had a player go from 84 last september to 92 this summer. Already has his scholarship offer and now consistently moving up draft boards. I’ll more than likely to a case study on him at some point for you guys. But we are excited to see what happens next year.

  8. Charles Sherrill says:

    OMG, Baseball Rebellion goes after LONG TOSS?! Is nothing sacred 😉 I’ll say this for you guys, you’re not afraid to put it out there! BTW, I’m pretty sure about every Little League team does or recommends long toss … As Chief Brody said in Jaws, “You’re going to need a bigger boat!” if you’re going to change minds on that one!

    http://youtu.be/8gciFoEbOA8

    I look forward to checking out your throwers program!

    1. Charles,

      I love that you attached the youtube clip of “You’re going to need a bigger boat”! That’s awesome. Baseball Rebellion’s boat is getting bigger by the day, but we must start by ridding the waters of bad fish. We hope to get the throwers program out soon.

  9. john says:

    You say that throwing on a line should be the goal, then attack Jaeger for the “pulldown” part of his program. The pulldown is simply throwing on a line while reducing the distance to the targer. It is not addressing the front side or front arm as part of that process. You either dont understand (which I seriously doubt, you are knowledgable people) or are misrepresenting what he means when he teaches his longtoss program….at least how he taught it to me.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      John,

      The real problem is the damage and stretching to the passive structures of the shoulder. You would never force your knee into hyperextension…so why would you want to force your shoulder into hyper-external rotation? It makes no sense.

      I’ll let Justin answer the rest of the questions. What fascinates me is that no one…not Alan Jaeger in his email to us or Kyle Boddy in his twitter ‘sadness’ will comment on our factual information about how bad long toss is for the passive structures of the shoulder.

      Their information is old. The biomechanical model of ASMI is flawed. And the cat is out of the bag. Watch how the baseball fraternity brothers come together to pat each other on the back. Not us. Not Baseball Rebellion.

      We are here to find the truth, save arms, and change the game.

      Chas–

    2. John,

      Yes throwing on a line is the intended goal, but in order for you to understand my reasoning you must see the problem as a deeper rooted issue.

      When the term “pulldown” is used as part of the program, how does that term resonate with a 12 or 13 year old who is learning/reading about the program? What is pulling down? I can say that MOST throwers directly activate the front arm because I have asked them in our building and I can also see the change in the body when i watch sample of videos of jaegers program.

      How did he teach the pulldown phase to you? How is the pulldown cued? He may not say pull down the front arm, but that’s what is being produced by young throwers everywhere.

      Thanks for your opinion,

      Thanks,

  10. john says:

    Chas,
    Thanks for the reply. The thing that bothered me about the article is the misrepresentation of what Jaeger teaches when he teaches the pulldown phase of his longtoss program. It is not cued the way you are indicating. The stress on the shoulder is certainly something we should all be aware of, but, it is not taught with the frontside arm pulldown like the article is stating. I like his program, but, I am also open to better or safer alternatives. My son has gotten rid of sore arm issues by longtossing. I am the first to admit the benefit could just as easily have to do with getting on a throwing program, any throwing program, as opposed to not throwing enough. He has gotten away from obsessing with distance and making sure he throws on a consistant basis, sometimes he does LT the Jaeger way (topping out at about 300 ft) and sometimes he may only go to 90 feet (or whatever) and only throw on a line.
    You say the stretching of the shoulder and the stress this causes is the main injury risk. Ok, that is certainly resonable. I dont know what studies you have done to quantify this as there are none listed.
    The “Gateway Drill” makes sense enough. Look forward to incorporating this and seeing if the cues are helpful.
    Kyle Boddy is a very knowledgable guy and good coach. Is it possible for people with the same goal to disagree? The little “twitter battle” is what led me to your site. I am always seeking more opinions and insight.
    As for being outliers for saying LT is bad….dont know about that. It was not that long ago that any throwing beyond 120 feet was forbidden almost everywhere and Jaeger was the “rebel” for bringing old practices back. So it goes. I look forward to seeing what your throwing program entails.
    Thanks again,
    John.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      John,

      I’m going to let Will Fox, our Director of Performance, comment on your question as to the ‘studies’ on the passive structure.

      I will say this, and this is my opinion: Boddy regurgitates information. Anyone can take information already in the arena and teach it. Clearly, he is good at reading and then teaching other’s information based on his ‘mph numbers’ but anyone who teaches this…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pInXUSO3poI&feature=youtu.be

      …Seems like the’ve lost touch with reality and what healthy and responsible training really is.

      On the note of needing ‘studies’…Sometimes, when ‘studies’ are what you’re looking for…you’re 10 years behind in training/ideas.

      The newest things are not studied yet…they are created. Hence the advances in medicine happen DURING studies…(Baseball Rebellion IS a GIANT study with constantly published real video of kids making changes and dominating healthily.

      For instance: I used to teach an all back swing…now my players move forward into the turn. I rip my old stuff all the time and changed my entire teaching philosophy on the fly 5 years ago because I felt an ethical problem with teaching the wrong mechanics.

      I have a question for you though: When our thoughts on the shoulder capsule and passive structure are proven correct…what will the “Long Toss/Weighted Ball” community do?

      Continue selling their products is what they’ll do.

      Baseball Rebellion is about Idea Generation and Technique Creation. The people you mentioned before are about Status Quo.

      Chas–

    2. Will Fox says:

      John,
      It’s good you are aware of the fact that just because long toss made your son’s arm pain go away, doesn’t mean that long toss was the best option. Ironically, it is the long toss that is likely a contributing factor to the arm issues we see now days.
      As for evidence, I realize that we didn’t document any studies, but Chas said it perfectly. If you are only adjusting your methods of training based on the research then you will always be 10 years behind. However, we can infer. We know that overuse (excessive eccentric stress induced by long toss) will inhibit a muscle’s ability to contract and shorten efficiently. We also know that strenuous throwing results in acute deviations in range of motion (likely further External Rotation) which are directly related to muscle b/c they happen so fast. Most people think that this increase in ER and loss of IR is a good thing b/c it allows the player to gain further layback, which can equate to an ACUTE increase in throwing velocity. However, with this comes huge risk. We know this b/c the literature states that increases in the loss of IR leads to an exponential increase in the chance of injury. Forcefully and consecutively over-riding a muscles ability to concentrically shorten in arguably the most harmful move in all of sports is anything but knowledgable. Additionally, with muscular changes come passive changes as well. Deficiencies in the muscular system lead to excess stress on the passive system, which research has consistently shown by evidence of anterior shoulder laxity and posterior ligamentous hypertrophy. Research has also shown that these are injurious symptoms as evident in both prospective and retrospective studies. Hope this helps.

      -Will

  11. john says:

    Hey Chas and Will,

    Thanks again for the dialog. It is interesting….to me at least.
    I am not a “study needed” kind of person. In fact, I find that can be sort of a cop out people use to stick to old belief systems. I was just asking the question in relation to the article, you guys answered that.

    The wrist weight thing (as Im sure you are aware) is a Dr. Mike Marshal tenant (speaking of a guy who is all about studies). I agree 100% about challenging what is taught and how it is taught. I used to teach privately (not pitching) and I was always learning, updating and changing not only what I taught but how I taught it. In reality, all coaches (regardless of what is being taught, coached or trained) have taken what they have learned and applied their personal experience. Some are great at it some are not. I appreciate the desire to challenge “sacred cows” and push the art form forward.

    Wills’ comments about IR as it relates to throwing is dead on in my opinion. As a layperson who was sort of thrust into the ego driven, opinion rich world of pitching instruction/training when my son announced he wanted to pitch in college….even though he was 14 and had thrown the sum total of about 5 innings, I have just started to gleen a bit of understanding. Understanding things like the lack of IR that can develop from overuse is a key starting point to keeping pitchers healthy. In my travels and searching for information there are plenty of folks who have good things to offer (Cressey, Jaeger, Boddy ect), I am sure you guys are right there with them….or maybe beyond. I think the key is to take the good stuff from each and leave the rest on the side of the road, so to speak.
    As for Chas’ comment about the LT/weighted ball folks still selling their products/ideas after being proven wrong (if that happens) I am sure they will. Just as Mills, Wolforth, Marshal ect. push their own agenda. Is this done in the name of what they really believe to be right or is it strickly business? Who knows? The same could be said for anyone with a site selling products or services. In reality, is there one “truth” to all of this stuff, in particular the training side of things? Probably not. I do believe (just my opinion) that a coach/trainer worth their salt will start with a focus on injury prevention and or movement pattern/muscle imbalance correction when getting a new client going….it seems you guys are of the same mindset.
    By the way, my son just headed off to college this past weekend to start his college baseball career. Would he have been able to do this in such a sort period of time without taking knowledge from the guys listed above? Maybe, but, it would have been a lot tougher.
    Thanks again and keep doing what your doing, I will certainly keep checking in,
    John

  12. Kurt Williams says:

    Hi,

    Quick background. Pitched 4 years NCAA and 2 years minor leagues and worked extensively with a nutritional company that focused on muscle recovery backed by FDA regulated scientific research. With that I have one question/comment. Do either you or this Jaeger person have any background in kinesiology or served as a resident in orthopedics? I’m confused as how claims about what is healthy for your arm/body can be made by someone without that background. Thanks for writing though. It’s some sort of claims you both seem to be making. Good luck.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Kurt,

      Quick Background: Will Fox, our Director of Performance, has an undergrad in Exercise Physiology from UNC, and is completing his masters in Exercise Science from UNC Greensboro in January of 2014. He has a PES, CSCS and MAT Certification. His extensive knowledge of anatomy and muscle function validates our claims about the passive structures of shoulder and elbow.

      Justin’s theories are supported by the newest and most progressive research around. My understanding is that Jaeger’s research relies on studies by ASMI and NPA that focus primarily on muscle function and acute gains in velocity that happened years ago. Will and Justin, if that is incorrect, please correct me.

      Ours focus on the stability and long term support of the shoulder and elbow joint and how training ‘arms’ makes no sense when you should train the body.

      Also, I think it’s fair to infer based on that fact that 124 of 360 MLB Pitchers on opening day rosters have already had Tommy John Surgery that the old ways of training pitchers are not working. We’re looking for a better way. Our scientific study happens daily in our facility and is constantly backed by our player’s successful pain free completion of their seasons. The number one ability of an athlete is availability. And no one, not Jaeger or anyone else, has been able to address our claims about the passive structure of the shoulder and the deleterious effect of long toss/weighted ball training on those structures.

      I hope that helps.

      Chas–

  13. David says:

    Justin,
    What do you feel is the best shoulder conditioning method for pitchers. Ive always felt thats what long toss was for. In my mind it was just like any other way of getting stronger or conditioned. You start your first day squatting 100lbs and in a year your at 350lbs with progressive loading. What about the arm? Either you do a set number of throws and progress the distance every session. Or you never go past a certain distance ( nothing to extreme, maybe 180 feet?) and increase the number of throws right? I feel a pitcher cant just go in and start a game with 100 pitches if his arm isnt conditioned for it right? Maybe he can do it, but wake up with a sore arm, and put himself in a deficit to where trying to improve the conditioning of his arm will only cause injury due to overuse because it wasnt conditioned in the first place. I agree that extreme distance with arched throws is unnecessary, but what is the next best way to condition a pitcher or baseball players arm? I have a feeling it may be strictly starting with a small number of throws ( maybe 50) and increasing that number a little bit every session . But what do you think?

  14. Stuart Jaeger says:

    Dear Justin,
    You are right that Alan Jaeger is a “nice guy” just as I’m sure you are. I should know, I am his older brother. It’s great that you are so concerned about the health and arm health of athletes as is Alan. While you a espouse certain theories, Alan promotes methods based on years of research and actual implementation and results. He has the backing of numerous well-known doctors, physical therapists, players, coaches, and statistical results. From Nolan Ryan and his long toss routine, to Clayton Kershaw, to Golden Spikes winner and leader in the nation two years in a row in strike outs Trevor Bauer, to the fastest pitcher to 50 wins and $18 million per year salary Barry Zito, most professional pitchers support his program, not to mention Monica Abbott who is the greatest woman’s softball pitcher ever. Please refer to Alan’s latest article which will be published shortly which shows that about 90% of the top 60 prospects in the upcoming draft, use long-toss religiously. It’s easy to write articles against someone like my brother and not use any legitimate backup, but it’s better to devote your entire life to helping others, protecting their arms, helping then earn a living, and doing so more out of altruism and philanthropy, then caring about making money. Best of luck to you Justin.

    Stuart Jaeger

    1. Stuart,

      Thanks for reaching out to me. The years of research Alan has accumulated and incorporated into his training protocols is EXACTLY what I referenced in my article. I called into question his exact verbage as it relates to the health of the throwing shoulder. Neither you nor Alan has directly commented to the factual comments I have laid forth in my comments. I’m not trying to attack Alan by any means. Like Alan, I’m trying to educate and help throwers at every level. But, I do continue to see an issue in the methodology Alan presents in his long toss program.

      I look forward to reading Alan’s latest article as it pertains to the draft and if need be I will call into question the practices of long toss and how to negatively impacts the health of the shoulder.

      I do not care about Alan’s experience and his work with Trevor Bauer and Barry Zito. Many pitchers support his program because it parallels with the current culture within baseball that he has helped create.

      Please do not bring up money to me because it’s not about money for Baseball Rebellion. You have no perspective of how much we care for all of our students.

      I used legitimate backup in my article and will continue to do so against unhealthy long toss practices.

      Thanks,

      Justin

  15. Jared Roley says:

    Justin, I do understand what you are saying about the front shoulder flying open. That being said pulling the front arm tight in to your body in a vertical plane towards the plate with the elbow coming into your ribs towards second base will keep you from flying open. The drill you have is an effective drill to make sure that a pitcher is not flying open by allowing them to feel the front side in correlation with the back hip and arm. Immediately you should be able to just watch a pitcher and be able to tell if his shoulder is flying open. I do believe there should be focus on a strong front side but your video assumes that all pitchers fly open and that long toss is the cause and not improper teaching of mechanics. Let me know what you think.

    1. Jared,

      Thanks for your insight. The truth of the matter is we don’t have to train any front of movement. It will naturally fold into the body as a product of the backside of the body. But if you infer “pulldown” the individual will activate the front arm to increase force.

      Thanks,

      Justin

  16. ryan says:

    I can say from personnel experience that all throughout high school and junior college, I long tossed everyday, went through the pull down phase, and threw weighted balls. I might also add that my arm has never felt better, never experienced any arm problems of any kind, and my ball had way more life to it. Ever since I left that program and got away from all that stuff, with “limited throwing”, “more rest”, it has been a constant battle to stay healthy. I am not here to say its wrong or right either way. I just think everybody is different and everyone just needs to figure out what works for them. You saying Trever Baur’s throwing program is unnecessary, is pure ignorance in my opinion, because I think he would be the first to tell you that he would not be where he is today if it wasn’t for all that.

    #letiteat

    1. Ryan,

      Thanks for sharing your opinion. You’re correct everyone is very different, and that’s why we want to advocate that any program must account for specific variables in distance, mechanics, and current shoulder patterns before embarking on a program that is “one size fits all”.

      Thanks,

  17. Andrew D says:

    Really interesting article with valid points, I’m 12 weeks out from tommy john surgery and was wondering if you had any conditioning advice to do until I can start throwing again in about 4-6 weeks

    1. Andrew,

      Thanks for reading. I will pass along your information to Will Fox, our director of performance, and he will follow up with you regarding any conditioning advice.

      Thanks,

      Justin

  18. Ryan Rogers says:

    Hey Justin, I am a college pitcher and have been working on this drill and had a quick question. Is this drill intended to help increase hip to shoulder separation?

    1. Ryan,

      Indeed. It’s designed to build the sequence between the rear hip and forearm position as the body is preparing to rotate.

      Thanks,

      Justin

  19. Will K says:

    Justin,

    I work with 10 year olds and we work bands and LT a couple of times a week. Just curious from your perspective what a good program for “safely” building arm speed and strength at the your ages might be.
    Great article. Good luck to the Rebellion!!

    WK

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Will,

      I know you asked Justin this question, but I’ll answer as I know what he’s going to say.

      Get the TDP and then you’ll know exactly how far and how often to throw based on your kids current velocity and other factors as well.

      Chas–

  20. Andrew Sliwkowski says:

    Justin,
    Great article and video!! Thankyou!
    I was wondering if you might consider the value of showing the “Gateway Drill” (and or others) using your left hand(non-dominate)?
    Below is a list of possible value-adds that came to me getting started with my son with the Rebel’s Rack, and DD.
    1. My son is a lefty (I’m a righty) and in order to help him/help me, I practiced the drill so I can leverage your brilliant insights towards reaching my long time goal of throwing 90 mph “safely” (currently I can throw ~70) and most importantly help my son own the drill and how it can accelerate towards his goals.
    – When I try to do the drill lefty… I feel uncoordinated even though my brain ‘conceptually’ knows what to do. It provides empathy on how my son feels when he does the drill, I get a sense that even though it’s a well layout recipe that’s intuitive when I execute it righty…but lefty I realize the overwhelming chain of events required to mastery… and new appreciation of the time horizon required to see/measure improvement.

  21. Trevor Valdez says:

    How quickly would you see the results?

  22. Wes Oblander says:

    Hi, Justin. You article and overall approach to pitching is refreshing in the face of much information to the contrary. What do you think of Tom House’s approach that includes long toss as well as weighted balls?

    I can appreciate his approach to arm care and functional strength, though I believe that more than a small amount of long toss is probably not the best method to gain arm strength. Coupled with poor mechanics or a tired arm and one could question the efficacy of such activity. Your message is appreciated as is your expertise.

  23. Boubacar says:

    Is this good for throwing a football

  24. Shane says:

    Hi, I am a high school coach. I like the idea of the gateway drill, my only question is what throwing program should I use before the season so that my players arms are ready to go when the season starts. I’ve looked around your website and although you talk bad about long toss programs, I can’t find an alternative to it. Because let’s face it, my kids arms aren’t going to get ready just doing this drill and doing bands. I’m not attacking what you are saying, but I am looking into moving away from long toss partly because I agree with what you are saying but I am having trouble finding a better alternative. The kids arms aren’t going to get ready without doing some sort of throwing.

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