The kinematics of the anatomical shoulder are analysed and modelled as a parallel mechanism similar to a Stewart platform. A new method is proposed to describe the shoulder kinematics with minimal coordinates and solve the indeterminacy. The minimal coordinates are defined from bony landmarks and the scapulothoracic kinematic constraints. Independent from one another, they uniquely characterise the shoulder motion. A humanoid mechanism is then proposed with identical kinematic properties. It is then shown how minimal coordinates can be obtained for this mechanism and how the coordinates simplify both the motion-planning task and trajectory-tracking control. Lastly, the coordinates are also shown to have an application in the field of biomechanics where they can be used to model the scapulohumeral rhythm.