DECELERATION .....the importance of slowing down faster for better performance and less risk of injury.
Most of the time coaches and athletes are mainly concerned about acceleration, pure speed, endurance, agility etc. But, how much thought actually goes into the ability of the athlete to slow down as quickly as possible in order to make another movement? One of the key factors involved in enabling the body to stop when decelerating from a sprint or landing from a jump, is the Eccentric Contraction. When a muscle lengthens under load to control movement, an eccentric contraction occurs. When a muscle shortens to produce movement, a concentric contraction occurs. By developing specific eccentric strength, an athlete can be guarded against injury. There are numerous dynamic drills using cones or markers together with designated running patterns and speeds that can be designed to enhance deceleration .
An easy example is The COMPASS DRILL: Use 5 cones - place one in middle with the other four 10 m apart at points. From the middle sprint to each compass point returning to middle all the time, clockwise as well as anti-clockwise. Either touch the cones or run around it. Try to maintain a low center of gravity and make braking movements from the balls of the feet. Use a stopwatch and keep improving times your times. When looking at improving dynamic deceleration, plyometric exercises are crucial. By doing plyometric exercises you evoke a specific combination of muscular actions that enhance the athletes ability to absorb landing forces. The result is dynamic jumping, cutting and stopping movements. Eccentric muscle strength lowers knee and ankle joint strain and also makes more power available for concentric contractions. Example Drop Jumps:
A higher drop provides greater strength and a lower drop gives a higher speed component. (40-100cm). From a standing position on the platform you step off, reacting as quick as you can to the ground, leaping either upward or forward. Using your arms to enhance the power of the jump (a backward swing before landing and forward swing, as vigorously as possible just prior to and after landing) it is crucial to react to the ground as quickly as possible to maximize the plyometric action. Take care not to over flex knees on landing. In CONCLUSION: The vital importance of specific conditioning for deceleration has to be highlighted. Coaches and players need to incorporate specific drills and practices into their periodization model. [if !supportLineBreakNewLine] [endif]