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training time: tim rudd for iyca

STIFFEN UP!

Vertical change of direction is just as important as horizontal — which means your ankles need to be ready A few issues ago, I discussed how athletes who aren’t proficient at decelerating, really will have a difficult time changing direction. Even if an athlete is faster than everyone else on the field, the inability to decelerate will eliminate any advantage their speed gives them. Whether it’s a horizontal or vertical change of direction, stiffness is a quality that is vital in order for the athlete to be quick off the ground going up, down and back up again. These movements are just as important as multidirectional change of direction. We’ve all seen it: the basketball player goes up for a lay-up, the ball bounces off the rim, he and his opponent go back up for the rebound. One gets it, one doesn’t. This requires a very strong and stiff ankle so force production goes into the ground and is not lost. Athletes must have control right at foot contact. They must be able to push into the ground, not squoosh! Can

your athletes be stiff and be ready to go to the next play? During play, athlete are not going that low when they land or change direction, So this stiffness must come from the foot, ankle, Achilles and calf very early. Initial contact has to be stiff. If it’s uncontrolled, it’s slow and dangerous. So an athlete must adapt to being stiff at higher angles. There are many programs out there that are great at getting athletes adapted to a specific training program or protocol. But they fail to prepare the athlete to be completely adaptable at tolerating the stress, load and movements demanded by their sport. So the question becomes, how do athletes adapt to the force production and reduction that occurs during play at these higher angles? Well, that’s the subject of my next column, so stay tuned. ✪ Tim Rudd is an IYCA specialist in youth conditioning and owner of Fit2TheCore.

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