Biomechanical comparison of baseball pitching and long-toss: Implications for training and rehabilitation

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVES: To test for kinematic and kinetic differences between baseball pitching from a mound and long-toss on flat ground. BACKGROUND: Long-toss throws from flat ground are commonly used by baseball pitchers for rehabilitation, conditioning, and training. However, there is controversy over the biomechanics and functionality of such throws. METHODS: Seventeen healthy, college baseball pitchers pitched fastballs 18.4 m from a mound to a strike zone, and threw 37 m, 55 m, and maximum distance from flat ground. For the 37-m and 55-m throws, participants were instructed to throw "hard, on a horizontal line." For the maximumdistance throw, no constraint on trajectory was given. Kinematics and kinetics were measured with a 3-dimensional, automated motion analysis system. Repeated-measures analyses of variance, with post hoc paired t tests, were used to compare the 4 throw types within pitchers. RESULTS: At foot contact, the participant's shoulder line was nearly horizontal when pitching from a mound and became progressively more inclined as throwing distance increased. At arm cocking, the greatest amount of shoulder external rotation (mean ± SD, 180° ± 11°), elbow fexion (109° ± 10°), shoulder internal rotation torque (101 ± 17 Nm), and elbow varus torque (100 ± 18 Nm) were measured during the maximum-distance throws. Elbow extension velocity was also greatest for the maximum-distance throws (2573°/s ± 203°/s). Forward trunk tilt at the instant of ball release decreased as throwing distance increased. CONCLUSION: Hard, horizontal, fat-ground throws have biomechanical patterns similar to those of pitching and are, therefore, reasonable exercises for pitchers. However, maximum-distance throws produce increased torques and changes in kinematics. Caution is, therefore, advised in the use of these throws for rehabilitation and training.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Fleisig GS; Bolt B; Fortenbaugh D; Wilk KE; Andrews JR
  • Start Page

  • 296
  • End Page

  • 303
  • Volume

  • 41
  • Issue

  • 5