How Fast Can You Stop?

Football, as well as rugby, basketball and other field and court sports require constant changes of direction throughout the match. Whether you are looking to gain space or tracking the movements of a your opponent, field athletes require both linear and multidirectional speed. This might surprise you, but in order to make any quick change of direction you first must slow down, or decelerate your body before you can speed up, or reaccelerate. The ability to quickly decelerate under control and then reaccelerate in a different direction can have a huge impact on your multi-directional speed.

In short, your effective speed on the pitch is determined by how quick you can stop.

 The ability to stop quickly is just as valuable as reaching top speed rapidly. Imagine a winger being chased by a defensive player—both running step for step. The winger brakes and stops completely in two steps, while the defensive back has to take three steps. At that point, the winger has changed direction and has time to either accelerate away or pick the right pass. He shed the defender thanks to his deceleration ability – not his speed.

Even if you’re much quicker than your opponent, how hard is it to actually run away from him?  But if you can stop one step quicker and remain balanced, you’re off into the gap while he’s still scrambling. How cool would that be?

There’s no need to disguise it because he has to follow you. But he physically can’t stay with you when you cut. So, he needs to either give you more space, or he needs cover. Both create gaps.

Top people at this are Lionel Messi, Rob Burrows and Jason Robinson. All can create space from nothing and are a defender’s nightmare. If you work on nothing else on your speed and agility, work on deceleration. It wins games. 

Deceleration, just like anything to do with speed, is a skill. That means you need to practice it regularly to groove the patterns. 10mins of focussed training, 2-3 times per week will produce vast improvements.

Top tip – practice decelerating in all conditions and wheathers. When the wheather gets wet, treat it as an opportunity to get an edge. Trust me, if you can stop quickly in the mud, you’re in for a great game.

Please don’t forget to leave your comments below.

Yours in speed


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