When I was a performer, we never really talked about wrist strength and flexibility, so I never realized their importance until I started coaching. Plenty of guard fundamentals will work on one or both, but you can also enhance wrist strength, flexibility, or both when you don’t have or can’t use your equipment.
Increasing your wrist’s range of motion will allow you to do more safely with your equipment. The wrist moves up and down as well as side to side. Working on both directions opens up more rotational range and makes working through different planes easier. In my experience, most people understand how to stretch the up-and-down motion but tend to forget about the side-to-side mobility.
Try this exercise: In both hands, curl the three middle fingers toward your palm while keeping the pinkies and thumbs extended. Rotate your arms, so that your pinkies are pointed down toward the floor. While in that position, bend the wrists down toward the floor, then back up to the ceiling, several times for 30 to 60 seconds.
All the flexibility in the world can’t accommodate for a lack of strength. If you haven’t built the muscle to support your equipment, some skills can be dangerous to attempt. The following exercises focus on working through your wrist’s full range of motion while adding resistance using free weights or a band looped under your foot.
Holding a weight or the resistance bands in your hand, rest your forearm on your thigh with your hand and wrist extended past your knee. Carefully bend your wrist through its full range of motion, up and down. Do this resistance exercise with your hand positioned in three different ways—palm up, palm down, and thumb up. Work toward three sets of 20, adjusting to more or less weight as needed. Repeat with the opposite hand.
Whatever work you’re doing to build strength and flexibility, be sure to move at your own pace and adjust exercises as needed to avoid injury. While you want to challenge yourself, you should not be struggling or in pain.