Slow Down To Speed Up
Why would you want to slow down? After all speed is King. Right? Well, yes, but in sports performance the true king is resiliency. Essentially, The athlete that can recover properly and perform the entirety of the season is usually successful. By increasing resiliency, they are able to train more, and consequently become stronger and faster because of it. Therefore, to get faster safely, we simply start by reverse engineering speed. Meaning, if you are gonna go fast, you better make sure you have outstanding brakes first.
“HOW FAST WOULD YOU DRIVE A SPORTS CAR WITH NO BRAKES?”-ROBERT DOS REMEDIOS
To highlight the importance of decelerating, I’ll borrow this quote from Coach Kevin Carr’s Post:
“A large percentage of non-contact musculoskeletal injuries happen when an athlete is deccelerating and the tissue is being stressed eccentrically.”
We want to absorb force to help reduce the risk of injury. Any time we see a rolled ankle or knee issues, it almost always results during landing or stopping. If we can teach our athletes how to accept force, they will be able to accept and then be able to reciprocate and produce that force efficiently. There are two key ways we teach our athletes to decelerate or slow down.
1.Get The Wheels In The Right Place
Properly getting your body into better angles will potentially allow your body to absorb force more efficiently.
As you can see, The position at the end is our athletic position. It puts us in prime position to move in any direction. This is sports. Being at the right place at the right time to make the play. There is no better way to start than with having your body in the right position, and ultimately puts you in a good spot to be successful.
2. Build Better Brakes
Once your body is in the proper angles to be able to maximally absorb force, it’s time to train the body to accept those forces more proficiently. In our experience we have found that plyometric and eccentric training give us the most bang for our buck.
Note: We still want to train all muscle actions (eccentric, concentric, isometric), in all planes of movement (frontal, sagittal, transverse). For deceleration however, eccentric training is where the money is.
In plyometric training the athlete learns how to get in position and accelerate/decelerate their body. Eccentric training consists of performing an exercise with a tempo on the decelerating portion of the movement. As an example, here is an eccentric Split Squat.
Aside from the awesome slow burn you will feel, the tempo in the exercise emphasizes deceleration while eccentrically working the posterior chain. This resembles the work done during deceleration in jumping and sprinting. Putting an emphasis on this portion of the exercise overloads the muscles, and over time, allows you to become stronger in that position, and gives you stronger brakes.
In the End, learning how to decelerate will be a huge contributor to you or your athlete’s performance. Being able to brake will allow you to absorb and produce more force. If you want to become an overall better athlete, learning how to decelerate will place you in better position to be succeed.
Written by Pablo Matos, CSCS