Shoulder Taps (How To, Benefits & Alternatives)


Shoulder Taps

Shoulder Taps are a great warm-up exercise that engages the core and builds shoulder stability by alternating balancing on one arm at a time in a plank position. Shoulder Taps combine two of my favorite qualities in a warm-up movement – easy to learn and very effective.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to properly do Shoulder Taps, why you should do them and finally give a few alternatives in case you need them.


How To Do Shoulder Taps


Equipment Needed

  • None

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Shoulder Taps begin with the athlete in a push up position.
  • Hands should be directly under the shoulders. Body should be in a straight line, core engaged.
  • Raise the left hand up, reach across the body and tap the right shoulder.
  • Replace the left hand back to the ground.
  • Now raise the right hand up, reach across the body and tap the left shoulder.
  • Continue alternating back and forth in this manner until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points

Do NOT rush through this movement. Yes, the longer you hold the position the more challenging it is on not only your shoulders, but your core as well. This is part of the point of the exercise is to continue forcing the body to stabilize wants fatigue starts to set in. Embrace that aspect of the movement.

Try to limit the amount of side to side rocking. It’s natural for you to shift your weight to the side of the arm still holding you up, but try to limit excessive rocking side to side as you switch which arm you are stabilizing on.


Benefits of Shoulder Taps


Shoulder Taps work on shoulder stabilization. In athletics (and in life), the better the smaller stabilizer muscles in your shoulder can fire and maintain stabilization, the less susceptible you are to injury.

Exercises like Shoulder Taps will not guarantee you won’t injure your shoulder (no exercise can guarantee that), but combined with a complete training program can increase your chances of staying healthy.


Shoulder Taps Alternatives


Looking for other shoulder stabilization movements? Here are a few alternatives you can try out:

Scap Pushups

Scap Pushups are very similar to Shoulder Taps. Similar body position and no equipment is needed. The difference is Scap Pushups involve moving the scapula area through range of motion as opposed to the more static Shoulder Taps.

Assume a pushup position and keep elbows locked out. Now focus on only retracting and protracting the shoulder blades. ‘Sink down’ and let the shoulder blades come together and then ‘raise up’ pushing the shoulder blades far apart.

Reps will be on the higher end (15 – 25 at a time) and can often precede regular pushups in a warm-up routine.

A, Y, T

A, Y, T are a shoulder series done with a very light weight (often 2.5 lb or 5 lb plates), laying on your stomach on a bench angled at 30 degrees. This series focuses on the posterior shoulder, doing raises making a letter A with the arms, then a Y and finally a T.

What makes A, Y, T great as an alternative here is that they can be done with one arm if necessary. So, if you are limited with a injury that doesn’t allow you to get into a pushup position, A, Y, T can be a perfect sub.


More Links and Info


Find dozens more warm-up movements inside the Warm-Up Section of the Exercise Library.

Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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