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“Running, Stopping, & Change of Direction Are All Learned Skills”

by Andrew DiOrio 

Many athletes are putting in work before the season and practicing hard each week in an effort to perform at their best come game day. Yet, most athletes aren’t performing at the level they are fully capable of. This is due to varying degrees of muscular tightness, imbalance and joint instability that leads to unnecessary torque on joints, decreases range of motion, limiting power output making it almost impossible for them to perform at their highest potential. Most aren’t aware of the limitations and compensations they bring to the court and field. This makes the movement skills of running, stopping, and changing direction much harder for an athlete to perform. They are working against the tightness of their own body, overloading muscles, and wasting energy. Addressing any limitations and compensations will improve movement mechanics greatly and is a requisite step before improving performance. Once proper function is restored the mechanics of running, stopping, and changing direction should be taught and practiced. By addressing these areas an athlete can restore function, increase fitness and improve performance gaining an edge over the competition and greatly reduce their risk of injury.

Athletes should be warming up before participating in sports. The use of foam rolling exercises, dynamic warm ups, and movement mechanic drills can be used as a warm up and will make a huge difference for any developing athlete. This time is an opportunity to address limitations and practice running, stopping, and change of direction movement mechanics. The speed of movement is slowed down and strict technique can be monitored. This is the best place to start for teaching athletes how to move more efficiently. Many athletes lack the ability to move into deeper ranges of motion. They can often find themselves in these ranges in competitive sports. Having control throughout deeper ranges of motion allows an athlete the ability to move confidently and reduces their risk of injury. Injuries typically happen when an athlete goes into deeper ranges that they’re not prepared for and rarely get into. These could lead to a muscle tear or joint problems. Gaining strength and stability in these ranges will improve their ability to run, stop and change direction.   

When practicing proper mechanics, body position, and moving through full range of motion athletes develop greater stability, control, and positional awareness increasing their sensory feedback that decreases reaction time. With the continued repetitions and increased demands through progressive training week by week athletes will become more powerful, use less energy to move, and increase work capacity allowing them to perform at a much higher level. Along with improving performance comes increased confidence that will greatly impact their level of play.     

If your son or daughter looks slow on the field or just doesn’t seem to be moving fluidly, it may be they have never learned how to properly run, stop, and change direction with proper form. They may be lacking the requisite flexibility, stability, and/or strength to perform moving successfully. Just like they would study more or get a tutor to learn new skills to be successful in school, they should put time into practicing movement skills and hire a movement specialist to be successful in athletics.  If you’re an athlete who wants to gain a competitive edge keep in mind running, stopping, and changing direction are all skills that can be learned, practiced and improved.

East Bay Strength and Conditioning, LLC. 
10 Vineyard Lane, Barrington RI 02806
401.289.0996

andrew@eastbaysc.com

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