By BTP Coaches
For years, wrist flick drills have been around the game of softball. Coaches teach their players and then those players become coaches and teach the same thing. But does anyone really know why it is taught?
According to Austin Wasserman of High Level Throwing, the drills taught to “strengthen the wrist and create backspin” don’t have a positive effect on athletes. It actually hurts the arm.
The position of having your arm at 90 degrees, the ball next to your ear and flicking it creates bad habits. Athletes tend to push the ball, which causes elbow pain, which means they aren’t using their bodies properly in a throwing motion.
Here is a video in case you need a visual refresher.
Wrist flicks give athletes an “out in front” feeling and as Wasserman says, “The brain is being taught to position their arm out in front of their body to release the ball, instead of releasing the ball in-line with their body.”
Does this look familiar?
Softball players should have what is called scapular upward rotation that is, “the movement of the scapular (shoulder blade) along the rib cage to allow the humerus to elevate properly so that it is cleared to move into external rotation or forearm layback.”
With the wrist flick drills being taught, there is no scapular upward rotation. But the most interesting thought on all of this is that pure wrist flexion, like the drills teach, doesn’t even occur in a throw. If you really stop to think about how you throw a ball, you will realize that wrist flick teaches more of how to follow through when shooting a basketball instead of throwing a ball across the diamond.
So how can we can we teach throwing with proper mechanics?
There are three throwing drills that Wasserman suggests to improve mechanics and velocity: arm behind drill, seated arm behind drill and reverse rocker step.
Just know that all of this takes time. Throwing is a movement pattern, a series of movements in a sequence. Training the body and the brain is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight.