The Need for Speed… Lateral Change-of-Direction – Part 5

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, CSCS, NASM, PES, FMS)


In Part 5 of this 6 part series I am going cover later change-of-direction speed (click here Part 4).  This is an area where I find many athletes make the most mistakes. It’s also an area where top-end speed is not a factor, making athletes who are great movers in a short area (such as baseball players) excel. This can be particularly useful to the infielder who needs to make quick cuts to get to a ball on time, or a base runner in order to beat out a run down. Today we’re going to talk about how we change direction and some corrective cues and strategies you can use to help become more proficient at them.

need-for-speed-image-2Landing Mechanics “Load the System” – The key to changing direction quickly is to minimize how long we pause (ground reaction time) when landing before we re-accelerate to change direction.  Making sure our foot, ankle and knee are “stacked” correctly ensures a powerful and stable landing action. Remember for every action there is a reaction, so the more stable the landing the more powerful the subsequent push will be.

Prevent Energy Leaks “Stay in the Tunnel” – This is a term I heard speed guru Lee Taft use when referring to “staying low”. This prevents energy leaks caused by popping up and down during lateral movement.

Land in a Wide/Athletic Stance – Landing with the feet in a wide, athletic stance sets up a more stable base of support, enabling the athlete to better decelerate their momentum. This prevents a “lag” prior to re-accelerating in the opposite direction.

We use the low box drill to help put all of these techniques together into one explosive movement. Paramus Catholic’s Dave Hidalgo demonstrates.

(Low Box Drill)

If there is a lag in the lower half upon re-acceleration, a band can be used to create extra momentum forcing the athlete to “push away” harder and more explosively when changing direction.

(Band Res. Low Box Drill)

Sometimes the problem may be an upper body issue such as a dip or “sway” in the landing position. Many times this is due to the core not creating adequate “stiffness” in the landing, which helps to create a more stable base of support to re-accelerate. Med ball fake throws are a great drill to create extra momentum in the upper half and help the athlete feel his core engage in order to better decelerate.

(Med Ball Fake Throws)

All three of these drills are also great for letting the athlete “feel” where their foot and body should be to create the most effective landing angle.

Stay tuned for the final installment in this series on speed training when we’ll go over jumping and base stealing.

See ya’ in the gym…


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