When it comes to staying healthy and performing at an ultra-high level, regardless of the type of sport you compete in, there is zero doubt being able to decelerate properly will make or break your performance. Look at the likes of Stephen Curry, Lionel Messi, Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, and countless others, and you’ll quickly notice that it’s all of these individuals’ innate and or acquired ability to stop on a dime and gain separation that provides the freedom to control the opposition and execute play after play with predictable precision and undeniable success!
In this article, you will learn 3 fundamental roles of deceleration that ultimately dictate all sport performance levels.
#1-Deceleration as a means of preventing and treating injury types
#2-Deceleration as a game-changer!
#3-Deceleration skill and its regulation on being able to accelerate and increase speed, jumping, and change of direction in sport
If you look at key indicators of injury and common causes in athletics, the inability to effectively decelerate your moving mass as you rotate (i.e., Eccentric transverse motions) has been routinely linked to various forms of injuries or, at the bare minimum, it’s a guaranteed precursor to injury. For example, pitchers or overhead athletes often encounter various rotator cuff symptoms or injuries due to the cuff’s imbalance and arguably disadvantaged mechanical design. With this, the cuff is having to counter a tremendous amount of mass across the front of the shoulder with a relatively much smaller region residing on the back of the shoulder. So when the time comes to slow an explosive arm action, the rotator cuff can begin to fatigue and wear down, especially with repetition, which could eventually lead to injury if it’s not strong, thick, and fresh enough to perform. This is just one of many scenarios that occur in both training and sport that you have to consider as a parent, athlete, or coach.
This is why it’s so vital for a coach or athlete to train deceleration in a scientifically credible and systematic, and progressive fashion on a routine basis. You could definitely label deceleration and eccentric motion as an “X” factor when it comes to performance.
The next factor on the list would be deceleration’s role as a game changer. How is it that slower guys, according to combined results and athletic testing measures, can have a chance of evading or blowing by defenders in competition? They either know how to time an attack towards an opponent or goal, or they can immediately slow their body and re-direct in some way while their opponent is still in motion to avoid pressure and allow space to operate their next move.
Last but not least, it’s very easy to get caught up in the flashy speed that occurs from high-level performers, but what’s not so readily apparent is just how fast the muscles and tendons are loading, absorbing energy, stretching, and decelerating movement. You’ll witness fancy terms in movement science such as “Reflexive inhibition” and “relaxation phases,” which partly represent the deceleration of a moving part, and a reasonable portion of your training program should be centered around these functions as it will invariably limit your ability to perform and stay healthy on the playing field. Did you know that time-honored research has shown that the highest level of sprinters is also able to relax and decelerate their muscles the fastest? As world-renowned speed coach Lee Taft once said: “The first step in Acceleration is Deceleration.” His words are an axiom in athletic development and always will be. If your muscles and body can’t stretch and load rapidly, they’ll never be able to unload and shorten fast.