Since I have been working at Cressey Sports Performance for over a year now I have performed assessments on over 20 softball pitchers under the age of 16. Of those pitchers, 85% of them stated during the assessment process that they:
A) Are currently experiencing shoulder pain (in a dynamic fashion)
B) Have experienced shoulder pain either when pitching or shortly after
Don’t get me wrong, there are many reasons why young pitchers could be in pain. Nonetheless, with the girls I have assessed there is a significant correlation between faulty shoulder blade movement and pain.
As a fastpitch pitcher, if you lack scapular upward rotation to hit the 12 o'clock position (180degrees of ABDuction) other structures like the anterior shoulder and medial elbow will suffer. With this in mind, one of the easiest ways to teach your players to get upward rotation while "feeling" it in the right places is by using a PVC pipe during scapular wall slides and here's why.
Easier to control
Many young females I assess are grossly unstable. They usually present with a decent amount of extra range of motion (ROM) at their knees, elbows, and shoulders. Many times, if you watch this movement being performed with someone who presents with joint laxity, you will see the following happen:
- The ball of the shoulder glide forward (anterior humeral glide)
- Lack of good shoulder blade movement on the rib cage (poor upward rotation)
- Elbow hyperextension
- Hands glide too close to the body's midline or will glide out greater than 135.
An easy way to help people control their ROM is to place a weight in their hand. The PVC pipe forces their hands to stay in a fixed position and in return helps them create just enough tension that teaches them how to get to certain positions in the right way.
It now becomes externally focused
Many of the cues people tend to give during the wall slide seem to be internally focused, such as:
- Tilt your shoulder blades back
- Reach your hands as high as you can
- Pull your arms off the wall
While internally cues have their place, I personally find more success using external cues to help people learn what quality movement should look like and most importantly “feel” like. Some easy cues to use while coaching this drill are:
- Reach the pipe up towards the ceiling
- Peel the pipe off the wall slowly
- Drag the pipe slowly down the wall
Lets Get Stronger!
Scapular wall slides are an excellent exercise for overhead athletes only when it can be coached and executed in the correct way. Implement this easy teaching tool to help softball players improve body awareness while strengthening the muscles that help move the shoulder blade.