And it’s not a ball!
Are you looking for a drill that can improve your kid’s throwing motions? A pitcher, infielder or outfielder; they all need to have clean motions to get the best results. Throwing is a complex, dynamic, explosive movement through positions that can cause serious injury if not done correctly! The time to start cleaning up their motions is early.
The best part of this drill is that you can find the only piece of equipment needed in your bag. More importantly it provides the cues so you don’t have to.
ORIGIN OF THE “WATER BOTTLE” DRILL
The Water Bottle Drill can be used for both Baseball & Softball athletes! The idea originated from a lesson I did with an athlete who was having difficulty feeling arm path in a throw and having shoulder & elbow pain!
The parent, who was observing the lesson, could see the water shifting in the bottle as the athlete moved through the correct pattern of a throw.
There was a fluent, seamless, effortless movement of the arm through its pattern to simulated release. The hips & trunk of the body worked against each other to create this resistance.
The Water Bottle Drill gives coaches a VISUAL CUE and athletes a KINESTHETIC AWARENESS of how the arm should move before ball release!
The Water Bottle Drill is the #1 throwing drill that will enhance an athlete’s understanding of arm path. And it feels like real throwing but with less resistance than an actual throw!
An efficient arm path will reduce the risk of shoulder and elbow stress by allowing the body to supply the force in a throw, not the arm! It creates proper timing between the arm and the lower body! An efficient arm path as the Hips and Trunk work against each other, will also increase the ability to generate velocity! Yes!
We want athletes to FEEL what it’s like to move THROUGH positions during a throw, instead of training static, robotic pauses within a throwing sequence!
WHAT DOES THE WATER SHIFTING MEAN?
The water shifting in a certain way at a certain time in the throwing sequence means the arm is moving in the correct pathway before ball release. Remember, throwing is a movement THROUGH positions, so we want to train this as early as possible!
The Water Bottle Drill has no choice but to create this fluent, seamless and effortless pathway of the arm! Let’s take a look at the 4 steps to this drill.
Throwing Sequence 1
Hold the body of the water bottle so that the cap is towards the forearm, with the water starting at the bottom of the water bottle. You can use different size water bottles based on the size of the hand.
If you’re a Pitcher/Outfielder the elbow will extend before the pathway AND the elbow may lead the throw. If you’re an Infielder/Catcher, the elbow will flex before the pathway AND the forearm may lead the throw.
As the beginning of the stride occurs, the arm will move back, initiated by scapular retraction (water still stays at the bottom). The elbow or forearm will lead this movement depending on position. The elbow stays below the shoulder during this initial movement.
Throwing Sequence 2
As the stride nears completion (lead foot contact), the arm will start to move into external rotation. You can see the water shifting from the bottom to the top of the water bottle. When this lead foot contact occurs, the elbow will remain below the shoulder and the forearm somewhat vertical.
Throwing Sequence 3
As the Trunk ROTATES and ACCELERATES towards the target, the arm will also move through shoulder external rotation to ball release.
If they are doing this properly they should also be able to Hear the water swooshing by their ear.
Throwing Sequence 4
This is the follow through. Make sure you continue your arm path to the opposite side of the body, pronating your forearm through ball simulated release. Don’t stop short!
Stopping your arm short and not finishing the throw increases the deceleration forces on the shoulder & forearm musculature! This can lead to serious injury when you throw with a ball max effort! You would not want to stop a 50 mph car in 1 foot of space. Don’t do it with an arm either.
As you get familiar with the drill, perform this as a movement THROUGH positions, NOT a positional throwing set up or points.
WHO NEEDS TO PERFORM THE WATER BOTTLE DRILL?
Youth Baseball & Softball Players NEED to perform this drill to enhance their pattern. It will help them understand where the arm is in relation to the rest of their body during a throw. This is called proprioception.
The Water Bottle Drill can be performed during practices, training sessions and Off-Days to increase the brain’s awareness of this skill!
High School, College and Professional Baseball & Softball Players NEED to perform this drill to help iron out and groove these patterns without increasing the volume of their current workload! This element is HUGE as high school, college & pro athletes are sometimes overworked!
The Water Bottle Drill can be performed as a pre-throwing routine and specifically on Off-Days to keep volume low and reinforce proper Arm Path!
WATER BOTTLE SIZE & WATER AMOUNT
Youth Athletes will use the 4 or 8 oz water bottle as hand size and grip play a big role. The smaller the water bottle, the easier the arm can move through the correct pattern.
HS, College & Pro Athletes can use a standard size water bottle as hand size and grip won’t be an issue when moving the arm through the correct pattern.
Fill the water bottle halfway. Having a 50/50 ratio of water to space, will allow just enough resistance for an athlete to feel that kinesthetic feedback during the movement!
SETS & REPS
There are no required number of sets or reps for the Water Bottle Drill. Athletes can perform this drill as needed or as desired!
But, if you need to put reps to this drill to use it as a station for your players, 1-2 sets of 25 reps would work!
I hope you find this information valuable whether you are a player, coach or parent.
The root cause has been identified. The root cause of poor throwing instruction is that there’s a pattern problem. Static positions of a throw cannot be taught.
The Water Bottle Drill creates MOVEMENT through these specific positions allowing athletes to feel the correct arm path before ball release.
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