Friday, May 9, 2014

How Change-of-Direction Speed Improves with Core Strength

You have to train purposely to improve your change-of-direction speed (quickness and agility).

In many instances, quickness is more important than straight ahead speed. In many sports, maximum speed is rarely reached or needed, but explosive reaction is often necessary. Athletes can improve reaction times by training to make the right choices (choice reaction).


Reaction time is the ability to respond quickly with proper posture and control to a stimulus such as sound or sight.

How many times have you seen a player with "not great speed" repeatedly make plays to help the team win. This is not an accident. You can improve your change-of-direction speed with proper training. Read my post that discusses change-of-direction speed in detail.

Improve your change-of-direction speed these 3 ways:

1. As with any athletic move, core strength is critical. Overall body strength is also important.

Before you begin to train for speed and power, the foundation should be laid with sufficient core and body strength. Failure to lay this strength foundation will lead to certain injuries for you.

2. Body positioning is critical if you want to improve your change-of-direction speed. You will need dynamic balance. In many sports, it is not that easy to change direction and accelerate because the athlete is often off balance.

Some sports, such as football and basketball require running with or bouncing a ball. And, other sports, such as soccer require moving a ball with the feet. The best running backs, tennis players, basketball players, shortstops, etc. all have great dynamic balance.

Having great dynamic balance means that you are able to maintain your center of gravity over a constantly changing base of support. Thus, quickness and agility drills help you to improve dynamic balance and change-of-direction acceleration while not wasting motion.

3. To improve change-of-direction acceleration, you should have a shin angle of approximately 45 degrees for the first few steps. Your shoulders should also be slightly leaned forward.

The body lean should be at the ankles and not the hips. Having the feet just wider than shoulder-width apart will give you the most stable base of support. This is not always possible during athletic competition.

Therefore, stability needs to be added by lowering the center of gravity. Change-of-direction acceleration could be laterally, at an angle or forward (when back pedaling) and will catapult you to near maximal speed quickly.

The first step in the change-of-direction is important. If this step is too long, you will over-stride and bring the shin to a vertical angle instead of 45 degrees. This will slow you down. So, the first step should be under your hips. Again, the body lean should be at ankles and not the hips.

Improving your coordination will help improve your multi-directional speed and linear speed (straight-ahead speed). A player rarely reaches maximum speed during game competition.

Having great change-of-direction speed (agility with quickness) allows you to beat your opponent "to the spot" or recover from mistakes in positioning.

Improve your quickness and agility with these drills and then apply them during your movements in a game:

a. jump rope (one foot, two feet, slalom, Ali shuffle, backpedal)

b. speed ladder drills

c. cariocas, tapiocas, back pedals, shuffles, toe taps

d. hip turn and hip flexibility drills (like leg swings)

Work hard and expect success!

Download your FREE 10-Minute Strength and Power Workouts now!

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Your Fitness University
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