Thursday, August 9, 2007

Some Exercises To Help Develop Lateral Speed

Some important exercises to incorporate in your athletes' exercise programs are lateral lunges (with or without dumbbells), lateral bounding, lateral step ups (with or without dumbbells) and lateral shuffles (with or without resistance).

Straight-line speed is important but so is lateral speed and agility in sports. The athlete has to move quickly and efficiently from linear to lateral positions (and back again) many times during a practice or game.

The lateral lunge forces the athlete to decelerate movement through one hip at a time, placing greater emphasis on the gluteals and hamstrings. It trains the athlete to move correctly in the lateral direction.

Many knee ACL injuries occur when athletes place too much stress on their knees and not enough stress on their hips during deceleration. In other words, the hips are often under-used during sports activities.

Lateral bounding is a progression from lateral lunges that requires the athlete to practice lateral movement at game-time speed.

Do not progress to full-speed lateral bounding until the proper mechanics are achieved with lateral lunges. One common mechanical breakdown is when the knees protrude far in front of the feet when decelerating, landing or squatting. This puts undue stress on the knees and often causes injury.

Lateral shuffles (with or without resistance) also work well to train correct lateral movement. Lateral shuffles without resistance can be practiced at game-time speed.

Lateral step ups emphasize development of the athlete's hips, quadriceps (especially outer) and glutes.

Any serious athletic exercise program would be incomplete without these exercises. They can be performed as strength or power (high speed) moves.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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