The efficient throw
One of the goals of the USPBL Throwing Program is to facilitate a repeatable, game-like mechanical pattern at distances that allow a thrower to work within the constraints of their arm and body. This emphasis stimulates gains in ball velocity without the unwarranted and harmful stresses on the shoulder and elbow that occur with throwing at unrealistic distances (i.e traditional long toss).
We encourage all players to throw continually out of their position-specific throw through the entire program. Pitchers will utilize their pitching delivery (stretch or windup), and position players will incorporate the corresponding footwork and throws per their position. The program is designed to teach a thrower how to become efficient and repeat a cycle of energy into each throw, all the while holding himself accountable for the accuracy and flight of the baseball.
The USPBL Throwing Program implements "True Ball Flight" and the "The 70% Rule" to help master the efficiency of each throw. The two concepts are outlined below.
True Ball Flight
Every thrower, regardless of position, should strive to reproduce a mechanical pattern that yields a consistent, game-like release point. This is based on a player's individualized throwing distances, and the trajectory of the ball upon release. Not only that, but from these criteria you will be able to gauge mechanical efficiency based on the flight of the ball as it tracks towards its target. For example, an efficient pattern will typically yield a throw that looks like the ball is traveling "through a tunnel" until it reaches the target. The longer and further the ball can maintain it's direct path towards its target without deviating off-course, the greater the likelihood of efficiency.
Establishing True Ball Flight is the goal for each throw on any given throwing day. Even in Training Phase 2, which is the shortest distance a player will throw at, flight of the baseball should always be evaluated to assess mechanical efficiency. As a product of this, a thrower will develop and improve repeatability in their throwing pattern, which will directly lead to increased ball accuracy.
TRUE BALL FLIGHT CRITERIA
In order for a throwing repetition to be deemed as "True", the following criteria must be met.
1. BALL SHOULD STAY IN-LINE WITH TARGET THROUGHOUT ENTIRE BALL FLIGHT
The ball should backspin directly towards the target (i.e. the ball should look as if it were in a tunnel moving towards the target).
The ball shouldn’t tail, fade, cut, or drift outside the body. Minimal movement is allowed, but it must stay within the frame of the body the entire time (i.e. if the ball drifts outside the frame of the body before coming back into the target, the throw will NOT count).
2. THE BALL MUST STAY WITHIN ARMS-LENGTH OF TARGET
- The ball should land between the knee and head of the target or throwing partner.
- The receiver MUST stay flat-footed. Pivoting is NOT allowed.
- The receiver can extend their arm in order to catch the ball, but the throw will NOT count if they have to move their feet.
3. MINIMUM ARC AT RELEASE
- Thrower must maintain a 5º launch angle or less. The individualized throwing distances provided will help account for this.
- Each throw should be made with the intent of throwing the ball on a line.
In order to complete an efficient throw, not only should a player adhere to the True Ball Flight principles listed above, but they also need to make sure they are focusing on, and facilitating accuracy while building arm strength. This is further outlined by The 70% Rule below.
THE 70% RULE
The 70% Rule applies to every phase that encompasses some type of throwing, which is essentially Training Phases 2-4B and all Performance Phases. Based on the True Ball Flight criteria, and the number of throws that are allotted for each phase (found here), a player should strive to complete at least 70% of throws with good accuracy. For example, Training Phase 3 calls for 15-20 throws, so the goal should be to make roughly 11-14 throws with good accuracy (i.e. 15-20 x .70). Once again, this should be applied to each and every throwing phase.
To learn how to specifically apply The 70% Rule to Performance Phases 2-4 in order to appropriately progress to greater distances, see Performance Phase (2-4) Advancement Criteria.