6 Essential Elements to transform your Athletic Performance!

Updated: Aug 27, 2018

Have you wondered why your performance may have plateau? Are you looking for new avenues to improve your performance? Look no further, with the next 6 pointers, you'll be able to notice improvements in your movement patterns & performance.

For team sports, it is more than just running in a straight line. Athletes are required to cut & change direction as quick as possible. The higher the rate of deceleration & the faster the athlete can decelerate under control, the quicker that change of direction will be.

Deceleration is a commonly overlooked aspect in training as the key focuses are typically acceleration & speed. Bearing in mind that most movement patterns in team sports rarely take place in a straight line, improving deceleration is critical for sports performance as well as injury prevention.

Here are 3 ways you can improve your deceleration:

1. Proper Deceleration Technique

  1. In order to decelerate effectively, one must master the proper technique to do so. Improper deceleration form can reduce one’s ability to produce force to change direction & therefore affecting performance (Refer to images below)

  • (a) Initial backward lead

  • (b) Transitioning back to athletic position

  • (c) Post deceleration athletic position, forward lean

  • Incorrect technique

2. Weight Training

During deceleration, muscles are being loaded eccentrically, hence strengthening muscles in the eccentric phase will improve your ability to decelerate & teach your muscles to absorb force

  1. Eccentric phase refers to the lengthening of the muscles e.g. lowering of a dumbbell during a bicep curl, lowering body into a squat

Deceleration on field

  • Performing deceleration training on the actual playing ground is important as that is the environment the athlete will be competing in. Additionally, it teaches the athletes how to stabilize & perform movements safely & efficiently.

Change of direction is a “rapid whole-body movement with change of velocity or direction that is pre-planned.” As an offensive player, you would pre-plan when you'd cut to change direction to get into position to receive or drop a defender. The sooner you're able to change direction, the faster you're able to get into the next position of play.

Here are 3 ways to hasten change of direction:

1. Sprinting Technique

  1. Firstly, athletes should learn & implement proper running form and sprinting technique. This would be the most immediate way to improve one’s speed.

  • Running Drills (Ankling, Butt Kicks, Step-Over)

2. Proper Foot Placement

Learning proper foot placement will improve the athlete’s ability to react quickly & explosively to the next position of play etc.

1. Foot Position

  • During deceleration, one should use the inside leg as the primary decelerator

  • Make half a turn on the inside to prepare for the next movement

2. Balanced Foot Placement

  • Land with a wide & stable base which puts the athlete into a position where they can control their deceleration & start reaccelerating out of the stop

3. Body Lean

  • Upon deceleration, the athlete should aggressively lean towards the direction they wish to go. The lean makes it easier for the athlete to change direction

4. Reposition Feet

  • Lastly, the athlete should quick reposition the inside foot which helps the athlete to run out of the lean, accelerating through

3. Agility Drills

  • Agility drills are a programmed, set pattern defined by a series of cones where athletes would need to sprint through pattern & change direction as fast as they can.

  • Increase the difficulty of the task by:

i. Adding the element of reaction (react to a Visual or Audio cue)

ii. Tweaking the starting positioning e.g. lying down

Now with the knowledge of these 6 elements, incorporate them into your training & track your performance periodically for any improvements in your Deceleration & Change of Direction. All the best!

- Coach Nikita

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