Deceleration exercises are extremely important if you have any desire to become a quicker and faster athlete. First, they teach you how to properly absorb the forces that affect the body during competition, which helps prevent the likelihood of injury. Secondly, deceleration exercises help you become explosive due to the body learning how to utilize its stretch-shortening cycle, which acts like a rubber band that snaps back from a stretched position.
Here are three deceleration exercises that you should add to your training program.
1. Sprint to Deceleration
The goal of this exercise is to learn how to decelerate from a sprint to a balanced stopped position. Start by sprinting as fast as possible through the first cone and attempt to come to a balanced stopped position before reaching the second cone. As you decelerate, you should drop your hips to absorb the force of the sprint, to reduce the stress on the body’s joints. Finish by coming to a balanced position that allows you to move in all four directions.
To progress this exercise, you can increase the sprinting distance and/or reduce the deceleration area. An athlete can also add in a reaction element to this exercise by having a coach or teammate point in a direction for the athlete to sprint in after they come to a complete stop.
2. Step Off
Any sport that requires jumping also requires proper landing mechanics. This exercise is a great tool to teach young athletes proper position as they land from a jump. An athlete should start with a small box (6-12 inches high) and only progress after they have mastered the height of their current box. When the athlete comes off the box, they should add a small “hop,” so they have time to square their feet before they hit the ground. A good landing will be one where the ankles, knees and hips stack nicely on top of each other.
To progress this exercise, you can increase the height of the box, which will create more force to be absorbed.
3. Bounding with a Pause
Bounding can be a great plyometric exercise to increase explosiveness, but adding a pause allows an athlete to focus on the deceleration aspect of the movement. Start by jumping at a 45-degree angle and attempt to land on one foot without touching the other down. Once under control, jump out in the other direction and land on the opposite foot.
To progress this exercise, you can attempt to jump farther out, which will require you to absorb more force, as well as increase the difficulty of balancing on one leg.