MODULE 3.3: Deceleration

Why is deceleration performance important?

Prior to delving into agility and change of direction performance, it's important for us to cover one of the important contributors to elite agility performance: deceleration. When changing direction, it is necessary for an athlete to redirect their momentum, which requires a reduction in momentum in the initial direction, and an increase in momentum in the desired direction. Hence to change direction requires both deceleratory and acceleratory forces, especially with sharper changes of direction. An inability to produce sufficient deceleration may result in slow, wide changes of direction, which in sports that require rapid agility will impair performance.

What physical characteristics are required for elite deceleration?

Deceleration is predominantly a force absorption pattern, hence muscles must generally work eccentrically to resist forces and slow the athlete down. When decelerating within the sagittal plane (i.e. straight line sprint with hard decel at the end of it), deceleration is predominantly a quad dominant movement pattern, with contributions from glutes and calves too. When pivoting whilst decelerating (i.e. decelerating in a frontal plane), quads are still involved, however the lateral hip/lateral glutes must work harder to decelerate the body too, hence why valgus injuries such as ACL injury occur when using frontal plane deceleration strategies.

What are the technical KPI's of deceleration performance?

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  • Low centre of mass

    • Allows for greater horizontal acceleration

  • Many quick steps

    • Allows for a greater number of opportunities for force application

  • Lean body in direction of desired travel

    • Allows for greater horizontal acceleration

How can deceleration be trained?

  • Practicing deceleration at a variety of different speeds and running angles

    • Incorporate reactive elements into deceleration training​

  • Heavy eccentric quad and glute training

How can we address technical errors?

  • Generally cuing is sufficient

    • Athletes are usually pretty quick to identify good decel technique, it often feels quite natural

  • Some more challenging strategies required when attempting to address frontal plane deceleration technique

    • More on this during your placement!​

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