Today is another coaching feedback video, and I go a bit more in-depth on one specific technique area: the draw scapula movement. This archer was having problems with their draw shoulder, and asked me to take a look. In the video I show what’s causing these issues, and the pain they had, and how to fix it. I also explain why trying to lower the draw scapula too much is what’s causing these issues and why it can lead to many issues like this.
You can watch the full video below and there’s also a written summary if you scroll down past the video. If you’ve not already, make sure to check out our Recurve Archery Basics, How To Learn Archery and How To Train for Archery guides.
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Berke, the archer in this coaching video, shows quite a common issue: he brings the draw scapula too far round, too early. This then leaves very little room to move the scapula anymore. You might think this is good, but it has an important limitation. The rest of the draw will be predominantly done just with the arm. The scapula won’t be able to move around the body with the arm/draw elbow in a synchronised fashion. You can see this correct movement most clearly demonstrated at 04:30 in the video.
If you max out the draw scapula, and bring it too close to the spine too early, then it’s also more likely that you will lose the direction of movement during your expansion phase.
Many archers struggle with a high draw shoulder, or too much tension in the upper traps. As a result, it can be a natural reaction to try and pull the draw shoulder down, and force it into a much lower position. However, extreme care must be taken here. It’s very easy to over do this, and focussing so much on lowering the draw shoulder can end up putting it in a compromised position.
The fact is, a high draw shoulder is bad because it limits your range of motion, prevents a smooth expansion and increases fatigue and injury risk. But the same is true for an excessively low draw shoulder. As shown in the video feedback, trying to pull the shoulder down too much limits the smooth motion of the draw scapula towards the spine. It also prevents the scapula from laying flat against the back of the ribcage. Finally, it can cause pain in the shoulder, which is exactly what the archer in this video was struggling with.
The goal is to have a neutral shoulder position, which allows smooth movement of the scapula around the body. You shouldn’t be using the upper muscles of the back and neck, but you also don’t need to force the shoulder into an unnatural, lowered position.
As always, band work is key here. I would recommend getting instant feedback using a mirror and phone/tablet whilst you do this.
You can point the front-facing camera of your phone/tablet on your back (without a t-shirt is best), and then place a mirror in front of you on the shooting line. Then perform the drawing motion with a band whilst looking ahead into the mirror. You should be able to see the reflection of your tablet in the mirror, and see in real time which feeling corresponds to the correct motion.
Having this instant feedback is invaluable at the start; taking videos and reviewing them is far too time consuming. Once you know what the feeling needs to be, you can lower the frequency of feedback you’re using.
For some more technical information on the draw scapula, I would definitely recommend checking out this other recent YouTube video: Draw Shoulder Technique – Reduce Injury Risk and Increase Efficiency.
I hope this was a helpful post – and there are also loads more videos on similar topics (and many more) on the Online Archery Academy YouTube Channel.