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J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011 May;41(5):296-303. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2011.3568. Epub 2011 Jan 5.

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

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American Sports Medicine Institute, 833 St. Vincent’s Drive, Suite 100, Birmingham, AL 35205, USA.



Controlled laboratory study.


To test for kinematic and kinetic differences between baseball pitching from a mound and long-toss on flat ground.


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.


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 maximum-distance 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.


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 flexion (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.


Hard, horizontal, flat-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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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