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Spiraling exercises involve repeatedly moving a simple object through space in a rotating trajectory—in other words, some form of corkscrewing, figure 8, or loop-the-loop pattern. They sharpen the capacity of your shoulders, elbows, and wrists to supinate and pronate in coordinated succession. They also help you gain a greater sense of your gravitational center and enhance your ability to fluidly manipulate objects at arm’s length. These exercises have no loads, so you can do them every day, intermittently during a workout. You may be surprised to discover that your body can become smarter at these tasks after you take a break to do something else. “This isn’t the meat and potatoes of a workout,” says Weck. “It’s more like the salt and pepper that gives it flavor.” Sprinkle these in as “breaks” in your routine.
Single Hand Figure 8
Stand tall and bend your right arm 90 degrees while making a tight fist. Moving from left to right, draw a horizontal figure 8, keeping your elbow slightly bent and your hands between your waist and shoulders. As you move your hand across your body to the left, your palm should be slightly rotated and facing the ground. When you change direction to the right, rotate your palm so it’s facing up. When this pattern feels comfortable, hold both handles of a jump rope in one hand and perform the movement. The rope should hit with the ground between your feet. Do all reps, and then switch sides.
Race and Chase
Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab a jump-rope handle in each hand, and cross your right wrist over your left. Perform the same movement as the single-hand figure 8, but alternate snapping the rope about 6 to 12 inches in front of and outside your left and right foot (instead of between your feet). Make sure you keep your wrists crossed at all times. As the rope moves in front of your right foot, your right wrist should be turned outward and your left wrist facing inward. As you change direction, the angle of your wrists should alternate. Continue this pattern and try to establish a rhythm.
Perform the same movement used with race and chase. But after the rope makes contact with the ground in front of your left foot, change your hand positioning so that your left hand is on top of your right hand. Then, when you strike the ground in front of your right foot, change your hand positioning so your right wrist is on top again. The idea is that by alternating your hands, your wrists and forearms take turns rotating upward and downward on both sides of your body. (Rope strikes can hurt for all rope drills you might do. Keep the rope away from your toes and the exercise area clear of other people.)
Hold a 4-foot pole horizontally with an overhand grip in front of your body. Your arms should be bent at 90 degrees, with your hands about 6 inches apart. Rotate your torso to the right and then press down with your left hand so that the right end of the stick rises up slightly, toward your right shoulder. Then cross your right arm over your left as your left arm remains in place. Push down slightly on the right end of the stick so that the left end rises up slightly behind your right shoulder. Twist to the left and press the left end down, and rotate back to the starting position. Repeat this in a fluid motion.
Hold the pole as you did with the heaven’s twirl. As you rotate your torso to the right, press upward with your left hand so that the right end points slightly down toward the ground. Then cross your right arm underneath your left, and press upward with the right end of the stick. Immediately rotate to the left, and raise the left end of the stick and bring the right end of the stick diagonally to your torso. Repeat the movement, this time moving from left to right. Continue this pattern to create a fluid motion.
Vertical Ball Spiral
Stand tall with your arms at your sides and hold a basketball in your right hand with your palm facing backward. Pull the ball up toward your armpit by raising your elbow. Continue this movement until your shoulder nearly touches your ear. Then rotate your wrist clockwise so that your fingers are pointing forward. Continue to lift the ball and press it overhead while continuing to rotate your wrist. When your arm is extended, the ball should sit in the palm of your hand with your fingers pointing backward. Reverse the movement and return to the starting position. Do all your reps, and then switch arms.
Lateral Ball-Control Drill
Hold a basketball in your right hand with your palm facing up and your arm extended out to your side. In one fast movement, slightly dip your hips and rotate your palm and shoulder counterclockwise. Your palm should remain underneath the ball throughout the movement. Finish the movement with your arm still straight, your hand rotated, and your palm facing upward. Then repeat the motion in reverse. Once you become comfortable performing the drill with one arm, try it with both arms at the same time. Work on speeding up the movement and challenging your body with heavier balls.