FACT: Female basketball players have a 50 percent greater chance of suffering a non-contact ACL injury than men.
REASON: Research suggests that women have a higher level of quadriceps dominance, a greater valgus knee angle with lateral movements (which places more strain on the ACL), and less active knee and hip flexion during ground contact.
However, male or female, 95 percent of all non-contact ACL injuries result from poor control of momentum during deceleration and ground reaction shear forces that compromise the ACL. What are these shear forces? Shear can be explained as the simultaneous application of vertical, rotational and horizontal force to the knee joint. (See The Athlete's Guide to the ACL.) Yet the combination of rotational and horizontal force vectors is typically not addressed by strength and conditioning programs, especially in women's basketball.
Over the past several years, I've implemented a "Two-Step Deceleration" training program for our women's high school basketball players. Drills in the program use resistance bands to create an "accelerated deceleration" training influence, which reflexively trains the body to handle increased momentum and requires a faster deceleration response. Using short amplitude movements allows athletes to gradually increase their training speed and band resistance as they gain confidence.
The following three links show variations of the Two-Step Deceleration Drills. They all require two 41-inch-long, continuously looped resistance bands linked together with a Velcro strap. This simple set-up provides athletes with a total training distance of four yards, more than enough to train two steps.
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