The “Water Bottle” Drill teaches an athlete to develop high level throwing patterns via motor learning. Positions cannot be taught in a throw. Movements need to be the focus. This is why the “L” Drill is so detrimental for baseball & softball players, where a specific position is the focus and not the actual movement through that position.
The two videos below are water bottle throws with the first video being the “L” Drill with the water bottle and the second video is the High Level Throwing Pattern with the water bottle. There’s a significant difference between the two. Do you see it?
L Drill Water Bottle Video
The “L” drill throw is used by almost every coach and pitching instructor out there and honestly, I’m tired of seeing it.
In video 1, I am using the water bottle to show the INABILITY to create resistance in a throw. In this drill, the arm supplies the force and not the entire body due to the position of the elbow and the “pushing motion” it creates. This places tremendous stress on the shoulder and elbow due to a lack of separation between the hips and trunk.
The elbow does not unhinge or extend near the body, where it should. Instead, it moves forward past the body, creating a pushing motion. The elbow is out in front of the body.
Correct Arm Pattern Water Bottle Video
The second video shows High Level Throwing Patterns in which the arm starts down by the side, the stride is initiated, the trunk turns back against the hips and the hips open up towards ball release.
With this proper arm pattern and hip to trunk relationship, the body now has the ABILITY to create resistance in a throw. This is shown using the water bottle. As the water shifts in the bottle, it allows an athlete to feel the resistance created by the body.
As the lead leg is about to land, the arm is moving through its pattern and moving through external rotation towards ball release. The elbow must unhinge or extend near the head or body without drifting forward. When this happens, the proper timing of pronation can occur through ball release.
Elbow Extension Focus
Extending and pronating the elbow at ball release in line with the head/body is something that seems normal and shouldn’t be an issue for throwing athletes, Right? Wrong. Elbow extension timing is actually one of the most difficult aspects of the throw to correct IF the athlete “pushes” the ball (elbow out in front of their body) OR if the athlete cannot resist motion in the transverse plane.
I wrote about the Timing of Elbow Extension in a previous article. You can find it HERE.