The prone shoulder Ys to Ws is a great corrective exercise that is especially beneficial for overhead athletes playing baseball, tennis, swimming, volleyball, softball, and lacrosse. The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen the muscles of the posterior shoulder and upper back. The shoulder is a complex joint, so ensuring we have proper strength and mobility will allow it to function properly while playing our sports.
To perform you will need any sort of light dowel or stick. Begin laying on your stomach (prone) with the dowel on the ground above your head. Reach both arms out at about a 45-degree angle and grab the dowel. Your elbows should be locked out. From here, lift the dowel up towards the ceiling-elbows are still locked out (Y). Keeping the dowel off your head and back, you will bend your elbows and bring it behind your back (W). Once you reach your end point, push the bar back overhead into your Y position and reset onto the ground.
KEY POINTS: Throughout the entire movement, you should be thinking about pulling your shoulders down and back. You should try to keep the dowel as high up towards the ceiling as possible. Avoid shrugging your shoulders as you lift the dowel up. Your head should remain neutral-avoid extending it backwards.
This simple exercise can be very difficult for someone with poor shoulder mobility or weak posterior shoulder muscles. If this is the case, the athlete can perform the movement supine (on their back). Instead of reaching up towards the sky, the cue will be to drive the arms down into the ground (snow angel movement). We can use this exercise during a warmup or as a corrective during an upper body lift.