The Role of the Scapula in the Overhead Athlete

  • W. Ben Kibler
  • Stephen J. Thomas
  • Aaron D. SciasciaEmail author


The scapula serves many roles in shoulder function including serving as a stable base for muscle activation, dynamically moving in relation to the arm to create precise concavity/compression ball and socket kinematics throughout arm motion, providing through its dynamic stability optimal force and energy transfer from the core to the hand, and moving to allow maximum arm abduction/external rotation. The most effective scapular position to achieve these goals is retraction, and the most effective motion is retraction and controlled protraction. The loss of retraction can be caused by anatomical disruption (tissue derangement), anatomical impairment (tissue inflexibility, strength imbalance), or kinetic chain impairment (lower extremity inflexibility or weakness). These disruptions and impairments can alter scapular resting position and/or dynamic motion control and create scapular dyskinesis. Understanding how the scapula is stabilized and moves, what controls its movements, how its movements are integrated with arm movements, and the results of this integration in normal use and in shoulder injury will allow understanding of its roles in throwing and other overhead activities.


Scapula Scapular kinematics Kinetic chain; Overhead throwing 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Ben Kibler
    • 1
  • Stephen J. Thomas
    • 2
  • Aaron D. Sciascia
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Shoulder Center of KentuckyLexington ClinicLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Temple University, Department of KinesiologyPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Eastern Kentucky University, Department of Exercise and Sport ScienceRichmondUSA

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