How To Improve Change Of Direction For Athletes
3 Things You Need To Know About Change Of Direction For Athletes
The rugby world cup is coming soon and you will be sure to witness some of the most agile athletes on the planet battle against each other. Many sports require you to run, sprint and change direction on a dime. You will often, see that the best athletes aren’t necessarily the fastest in a straight line but they can change direction and carry their momentum in another direction quicker than you can believe. This is important in every sport where you need to react to a stimulus and change direction to make a shot, evade an attacker and step a defender other competitive sporting situations. In this article, we will show you how to improve change of direction for athletes.
THE VIDEO: How To Improve Change Of Direction For Athletes
Vertical force vs Lateral horizontal force
When you accelerate, you are applying vertical and horizontal forces into the ground to keep you on your feet and propel you forwards. The faster you get, the higher you become and there is a higher percentage of vertical force rather than horizontal force as each footstep hits the ground. If you think of a 100m sprinter as they are at full speed, their body is upright and they are cycling their legs underneath them to apply force straight down into the ground. This is great for running fast in a straight line but it is near impossible to change direction from this position. In order to change direction, you need to create lateral horizontal force to deflect your momentum. There are 3 key things that need to happen to change direction effectively.
- Centre of gravity
To change direction your centre of mass needs to drop closer to the ground. This enables you to create a higher amount of stability within your stance. It also, gives you more options. When your centre of mass is low you will be able to move in any direction.
- Creating an incline
In order to change direction, you need to create lateral force. If you are running straight and want to turn left, you need to create force into the ground on your right side. If your centre of mass is low, you will be able to place the foot away from your body to create an incline. The greater the angle, the higher the force and the more effectively you can deflect your momentum. Greater angles and higher forces also require an adequate amount of traction on the ground. If you have ever played rugby on wet grass in trainers, you will know exactly what I mean. Creating an angle to produce lateral force isn’t quite as simple as just leaning over to the side. Though, if this was all you did, your centre of mass would fall well inside your base of support and you would simply fall over. To stay upright and deflect your momentum you need to load your outside leg as you plant it into the ground and angle your body against it to keep your centre of mass underneath your body.
The incline of your leg as you plant it into the ground will create lateral force but if your centre of mass is too high, it will fall inside your body and you won’t be able to keep your balance. Imagine leaning on a wall with your left shoulder. Apply force into the ground with your right leg and push against the wall. Now, angle the body so that it is upright and your hips are now underneath you. This will help you maintain your balance as you turn and will also, give your more options after you have made your cut.
Things to remember the next time you need to evade a defender.
- Drop your centre of mass and create a wide base of support.
- Plant your foot away from the body and create an angle with the floor. The bigger the angle, the better you can deflect your momentum.
- Keep your body upright. This will help you load the outside leg, maintain your centre of mass within your base of support and also give you more options when you have made your cut.
If you want to learn more about change of direction for athletes, watch the video which, explains all of the points we’ve made in this article in more depth.
You can also get our Faster Athlete Training Manual to learn to rapidly change direction and not just be fast on a straight line.