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“during the point of deceleration, make sure your students are bending at the ankle, knee, and the hip joint, and that they have a flat strong spine”

their knees are in line with their toes and their hips. This will also cause less stress on their joints and make sure that their muscles are taking the hits.

Now that their muscles are absorbing the contact correctly, the athletes are training the eccentric phase of those muscle groups. It is like stretching a rubber band. As they land from a jump, or are about to change direction, they are putting a pre-stretch on their muscles that allows them to be more explosive. This is crucial for an athlete to understand, so they can maximize his or her performance. By becoming more efficient and stronger in their ability to decelerate, the quicker they will re-accelerate. It sounds strange but as they learn how to slow down, they are increasing their quickness.

As for the second key, it is imperative for an athlete to understand that their center of gravity is crucial to maximizing their change of direction ability. You can have your students find their center of gravity by having them wear a stopwatch that hangs right above their navel. As they lean over to the side or forward, you both will notice how the stopwatch moves and resembles where their center of gravity is shifting. This is an important concept for them to grasp because for an athlete to increase their quickness, they need to recognize where their center of gravity is located compared to their base of support.

An athlete’s base of support is simply where their feet are in contact with the ground. If they are standing still on both feet with their weight equally distributed, they have two bases of support and their center of gravity would be in the center of the two. Here is where it gets fun and exciting. As they accelerate or change direction, they never have both feet (both

bases of support) on the ground at the same time. You are always pushing off one leg at a time. One leg drives while the other leg is in the air, moving into position to make contact with the ground and apply another stride to drive again.

The secret in this process is to have the feet (base of support) land under or slightly behind the center of gravity, so they can push their body to overcome inertia or reaccelerate from a cut. We have much better leverage when we push compared to when we pull. If your car ran out of gas, would you pull it to the gas station or would you push it? Obviously you would push it.

By having a greater understanding of how gravity and deceleration play a role in quickness, your students should see noticeable improvements in change of direction. It is one thing to be fast, it is another to be quick.

Bill Parisi is the founder and CEO of Parisi Speed School. Founded in 1992, Parisi Speed School has grown to over 85 locations in 31 states and has trained more than 600,000 individuals. For more information on joining a Parisi Speed School or owning your own franchise visit

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