To understand deceleration in sports you must first understand how it works in regularity. Deceleration/slowing down means an increase in speed opposite to the initial direction the body was moving. This occurs in running, throwing and kicking. In running, the body would have to initiate force production against the ground the opposite way to counter the given speed the body was moving at. Now when we look deeper into the biomechanics behind deceleration, we can see a high correlation to eccentric, concentric strength and ground force production and vice versa for other movements. As we already know Newton’s 1st Law of Inertia, both eccentric strength and concentric strength acts together on the body to initiate that change in direction otherwise you can not slow down efficiently. Outside of sports, deceleration happens all the time through the eccentric movements we do on a daily basis, like going down a staircase. However, in sports, specifically multi directional sports, efficient deceleration is a must skill.
When an athlete performs in a particular sport, the ability to increase speed then to spontaneously cut and turn for either recovery on defense or juking through a defensive back is a skill that will 100% bring the spotlight on you. That is called being agile, and to get agile you need to work on getting that quick force production and deceleration to be able to cut efficiently. To enhance your agility skills you would have to include both power and strength training in your routine. That would help the muscles in your body learn how to recruit more motor units for that power output that you need. However there is a big factor that is the muscle fiber types that the body comprises. The athletes with fast twitch muscle fibers will look quicker when doing the same movements compared to the slow twitch muscle fibers. The reason behind that is because fast twitch fibers are quick at recruiting all the motor units in your muscles to create either positive or negative force that you need for acceleration or deceleration.
For kickers, throwers, baseball, tennis, golf players and so on, the follow through of the swing is very important. The deceleration of the limb while transitioning the rotational force produced to the ball will not only equate to a better throw or swing but also prevent you from getting injured. You can easily hurt the vertebrae when twisting without good eccentric strength. This is where proper biomechanics training with stability becomes super important and a huge part of it includes decelerating in the transition when transferring power. When those factors don’t align, you will see athletes go all over the place with their body with no stability, trying to compensate for the intense movements they have to do.
- Coach Andy Louis