Speed and Quickness in the Real World

Being a sports performance mentor, I receive many questions and I absolutely love answering them. One particular question was regarding landing technique and how it should be performed. The question related to how hard or soft the landing should be in terms of foot contact with the ground surface. There are a couple ways to answer this question. The first being, are you looking for real world reactive speed that will happen in sport? Or are you looking to introduce or possibly bring an athlete back from injury?

First…

In sports, especially team sports, where the movement of players is dictated much by what the opponent does (reactive speed and quickness) there is no time for slow soft movements. If you use slow soft movements you are beat, period! Cutting or change of direction, although not exactly the same as jump landing, is done with explosive quick actions of the feet and legs to decelerate and immediately accelerate. To make this occur at rapid speed there must be hard, quick pressure put into the ground to elicit a stretch reflex of the musculo-tendonous complex. We need the athlete to be able to fire the muscle as quickly as possible to produce force (one is to immediately absorb force and the other is to create acceleratory force). This isn’t happening if the actions are soft and slow.

Second…

My second response is regarding teaching the beginning athlete or an athlete recovering from injury how to absorb force with no reactive nature to a secondary movement. In this case, in the early stages I am not opposed to teaching them to absorb into the landing which means to yield to the gravitational and mass forces. This technique may allow the athlete to gain confidence and reduce forces on the injured area.

Lastly…

Now that I said that about the yielding to forces in the initial stages…it isn’t going to last long with me. As soon as I feel the athlete is proficient or given a clean bill of health I want action into the ground. I not only want action into the ground I want a “sticking action”. Like a gymnast landing after a vault…no movement. Please understand I am not suggesting the athlete overly pound his or her feet into the ground. I am simply stating that I want the athlete to not yield to the force being subjected down upon them. I want the nervous system and muscular system to act quickly on these forces and be able to reverse as fast as possible.

Remember…

When we evaluate movement we often forget to look at what the movement is for. In other words, if you simply looked at the sport of soccer, volleyball, tennis, basketball or football you wouldn’t even ask me if I preferred my athlete to land softly and absorb through the landing. You would immediately know athletes need to be trained to quickly reverse the downward force and turn it into the next movement.

Regardless if we are talking about landing technique or cutting technique, the same principle applies. Be aggressive during foot contact in order to be quick!

Yours in Speed,
Lee

To develop a quicker response time off the ground with your athletes I recommend using a Low Box. This is a great tool every coach, trainer, therapist, and athlete should have.