The Lateral Shuffle is a popular agility drill used by athletes at all levels to improve multi-directional speed and movement. Shuffling happens quite frequently on the field or court, even if only briefly as a transition between movements.
However, athletes often perform this basic athletic movement poorly. They bounce up and down, keep their legs straight or aren't in a position to powerfully drive to the side. These mistakes slow down your shuffle and make it difficult to quickly change directions at the speed necessary to succeed in your sport.
In the video above, I show exactly how you need to perform the Lateral Shuffle. Here are some key points to keep in mind when you are performing a Lateral Shuffle drill or shuffling in your sport.
Drive with your trailing leg
Push the ground away from you with your trailing leg, and don't pull it toward you with your lead leg. Stay on the front of your feet and keep them pointed straight forward to create the perfect foot and ankle position for a quick change of direction. Again, don't reach with your lead foot.
Keep your nose over your toes
Keeping your weight forward loads the ankles, knees and hips effectively, allowing you to generate greater force and change directions faster. Basketball players tend to get into the heel of their lead leg when defensively guarding an opponent. Being on your heels leads to decreased power and takes away from your acceleration when changing directions.
Perform a jump test to learn the technique
Perform a Skater Jump or Heiden Jump with your rear foot turned away from you and your knee behind your ankle (negative shin angle). Then perform one with your knee just ahead of your ankle (positive shin angle) and foot pointed forward. Notice how much more power you can create from the positive shin angle position. Mastering this technique will allow for a faster shuffle and improve transitions to sprints and backpedals.
Although the Lateral Shuffle is not as sexy as sprinting, jumping or lifting heavy weights, it is a movement pattern that athletes use constantly and must be perfected. Sometimes the little movements get neglected and poor patterns are not corrected as quickly as the "meat and potatoes" movements in a program. Don't let this happen to you!
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock