Chasing Greatness

Deceleration Training to Avoid Injuries and Improve Performance – Part 1

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Deceleration Training to Avoid Injuries and Improve Performance – Part 1

By: Lee Taft

There is no doubt one of the most fascinating aspects of a sport is speed. When you see it, you know it. It can break open games or save games. Speed can change how a team runs its offense or designs its defense. It may surprise you what really separates the fast athletes from the rest is how quickly they decelerate. This certainly isn’t the case for track athletes. It is the case of all court and field sport athletes where being elusive is key.

What exactly am I speaking of when I say deceleration? Do I mean stopping, changing directions or slowing down? Yes! That is exactly what I mean. Most fans watching competition may not even notice the deceleration that takes place. They just see the athletes pulling away with great quickness or getting caught from behind by even greater quickness!


Deceleration is the act of no longer accelerating or maintaining speed. It comes in many shapes. When we see a basketball player perform a change of direction of a dribble, it is obvious this athlete had to decelerate for the change of direction to occur. What determines the amount of deceleration? Remember, deceleration is a complete stop or a slight hesitation. The first is the speed at which the athlete has coming into the change of direction. Obviously, the faster the athlete is moving the more control is needed to decelerate the body. Secondly, the angle at which the change of direction is going to be made. If the basketball player is going to change direction at an angle of 10-15 degrees, then the deceleration doesn’t need to be as great to control the body and make the cut or change as efficiently as if the angle was 90 degrees. The third factor which determines how much deceleration is needed, is the implement or equipment control (ball, stick…). Take a basketball player for example. Let’s say the ball handling abilities of the player are limited. This player will need to decelerate much more than a player who can change direction with the ball easily without any loss of control. If we look at a sport like lacrosse where many times the stick is in both hands and the ability to change directions with great body control will change because of the added benefit of the arms to help control the balance of the body. The final factor determines how much deceleration is needed strategically or tactically. Great offense players know getting the defender off balance is important in beating them. If the deceleration move is so subtle the defender never has a chance to react to it, then it probably will not be effective. However, if the deceleration is aggressive the defender will most likely decelerate as well. Now you’ve got ‘em! As you can see, there is more to deceleration training than just stopping and starting. Continue on with Deceleration Part 2 to learn critical aspects of deceleration grossly misunderstood by many trainers. As a matter of fact, some of the techniques being taught by other trainers are dangerous! Stay tuned…

In speed,

Lee Taft


About the Author:

Lee Taft is nationally recognized as a top athletic movement specialist. He has his M.S. in Sports Science from the United States Sports Academy and is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), a Sports Performance Coach certified by USA Weightlifting (SPC) and he is also a certified Level 1 Track and Field Coach by the USA Track & Field (USATF level I). Lee serves as Executive Vice President for the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA), the premier international authority with respect to athletic development and young athlete-based conditioning and also speaks on the Perform Better tour.

To learn more about Lee or to contact him go to either of his websites:





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