I get it…
I like the “fast and loud” aspect of athletics just as much as you do.
It’s explosive, powerful, and down-right impressive when an athlete demonstrates sheer power and athleticism.
However, just like with all things, this is not something that happens by chance and this is not something that can happen repeatedly without some deliberate maintenance.
Let’s break down an athlete making an explosive cut to evade a defender…
Typically the athlete will put their foot into the ground, rapidly decelerate, and then accelerate in another direction as fast as possible. All this hinges on what most people tend to overlook.
The key to an athlete producing force and accelerating is the rapid deceleration phase.
This is the phase where the body absorbs all the force the athlete is producing and transfers that into the ground in order to the reproduce the force in the opposite direction. The greater the athlete’s ability to absorb this force dictates its ability to express explosive power.
Think about throwing a tennis ball at the ground. If you simply drop the ball it won’t bounce as high or as fast. However, if you throw the ball at the ground it will explode back up at you and bounce much higher. The same thing happens in sport.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “non-contact injury”? Well, my friend, this is what causes non-contact injuries. When athletes don’t have the required levels of declarative strength their bodies can’t handle the forces required to absorb and reproduce under control.So, knowing how important deceleration and force absorption are to an athlete, how do we train this ability in order to create an athlete that has a low risk for injury and a high level of explosive power?
Here is my process…
First and foremost, I want to start with what an athlete will be successful with and follow a process that allows for proper progression.
Level 1 movements are simply teaching the athlete how to land on two feet and how the body should distribute force. For this, I use a Snap Down progression. The goal is to push as much force as possible into the ground thus teaching the body how to transfer force in a dynamic environment.
These movements, or some variation of them, need to be combined into every training session for an athlete. They allow the athlete to learn to control their body under a large amount of force and they should be a cornerstone of any performance training program.
This key with this, as with anything in training, is proper progression and a high level of attention to detail. If an athlete learns how to properly absorb force through their hip, knee, and ankle then their potential to produce explosive power increases exponentially.
Remember, as the saying goes “you can only produce what you absorb.”