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Speed Report: Dynamic Movement Techniques-Skill Application for Transition Speed

by: Dale Baskett
Football Speed Specialist
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As you watch your athletes week to week at various positions, it’s obvious that certain players can cover ground more rapidly than others during multi-movement assignments. Not only multi-movements but change-of-pace and burst capacity. Some players are capable of these characteristics, but most are not. Recognizing the athletes who have transition speed skills is doable but teaching these skills is even better. Every player on your team can increase their transition speed skills drastically. Technical movement applications is the method that can be taught to every player on the team.

What is Required

As coaches, you would like to see all of your players move rapidly. As a group, it won’t happen naturally. They don’t have the physicality or the skill-set to pull it off. It has to be put into your system as a team training priority. Every position has specific movement requirements that are different from one another. To begin, you must establish a premise, one that indicates human movement is a mechanical skill to be learned.

Understanding Movement Function

We are naturally wired to function accordingly to the stimulus presented to us while we’re moving. Movement requires balance and counter-reaction control which stabilizes innate motor movements that spontaneously occur. Innate instinctive reactions are built into each of us. They respond as a safeguard mechanism when balance is challenged at high speeds. Conscious mental override must be the governing function. Simply said, the athlete must focus on body position and limb control during transition changes. Understanding the foundation of how a human moves technically is critical for designing and developing transition speed skills. We must start from the ground up. Force is applied to the ground, which, in turn, redirects force back to the torso. This begins at the point of contact with the surface. Consequently, this force production moves the body. The greater the force applied from the leg cycle phase, the greater the velocity potential. That is, providing all other things are stable. When this force is altered, the power derived is diminished. Remember, loss of force means less velocity. The velocity that’s lost takes place the moment change begins. Now we’re dealing with transition of forces. Results will be either efficient or inefficient, the latter creating a loss in speed. Running lineally, (straight forward line), also has its velocity loss issues due to changing force applications step-to-step. However, they are a far less problem than direction changes. At the initial moment momentum shifts to a new direction, mechanical execution must be accurately controlled. This phase of activity is what I term as “transitional momentum displacement phase.” Displacing momentum regularly is typical of football speed. The phases of movement changes are responsible for the difference between football speed and lineal sprint speed.

Countering Speed Loss

As discussed earlier, innate limb movement patterns will respond oddly according to balance issues due to momentum displacement. To counter this phenomenon, one must be aware of the footstrike placement relation to center of body mass. As a step is coming to the ground to strike, the placement needs to be just slightly in front of the vertically-erected torso. Reaching too far outside this center body position will affect the control of the weight displacement while moving toward the next step to be taken. Footstrike placement to center mass is the first priority of movement control.
Next is the arm rotation during displacement phases. The arm rotation has direct bearing on the leg cycle control. The arm control techniques, though critical, will only function marginally well without strike, center control. The arms must continue to stay active during all transition phases conducted. The innate response is to slow down to preserve control. However, when rotation is at a sustained rate of frequency, momentum is preserved. An additional technique application that must be applied is keeping the arms close to your sides as the arms continue to rotate. If the arm rotation alters, the leg cycle will follow suit, creating an altered leg cycle pattern. Remember, legs must maintain active and the arms are directly responsible for the success of this action.

Drills To Improve Transition Speed

Set cones apart 5 yards, lineally. Offset cones one foot left to right with six cone zone set up. Player attacks the zone weave with an aggressive sprint. As he is sprinting he will lean slightly left to right as he negotiates the angles. Keep elbows in at all times and shoulder speed at non-stop aggressive rhythm (See Diagram 1).

Four yards hard sprint to an extension plant. Transition to a lateral off the plant, not stopping the arm speed established. Key to maintaining speed on transitional changes will be the shoulder rotation which should be continuously aggressive with the same tempo throughout. Eye position is level at all times. The eye level creates stability for the torso to remain positioned in relation to footstrike action which is slightly placed in front of center of body mass. This allows the athlete to control body alignment from foot to the top of the head (See Diagram 3).


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