June 4, 2013

    How to Become a Pinball Athlete – First Step Separation

    We always talk to our athletes about how creating separation from their opponent is the difference maker on the field or court. This separation is the result of having a great first step.

    Of course, having a great first step is really about training your body to improve your Movement Signature for optimal force production and angles.

    Why are Angles So Important?

    Angles are the foundation of movement skill. When athletes want to improve their technique, they are really looking to improve their ability to create optimal angles and body position over and over again at high speeds.

    However, one of the best ways to improve angles at high speeds is to break movement skills down into their most fundamental components. At Sparta, we have a whole component of our training session that is dedicated to mastering progressions for better angles.

    How to Have a Great First Step

    Change of direction is usually where athletes have the opportunity to beat their opponents with a great first step. Everyone has seen the pin-ball type athlete like Barry Sanders who is always able to create separation. The ability to decelerate and redirect forces efficiently is the trademark these athletes. We break this ability down into its most fundamental component with the Crossover Wall Drill

    Coaching Keys

    • Load the lead leg – maintain even stance

    • Drive through the outside edge of the lead leg – full extension through the hip and knee

    • Trail leg knee should track tight across the body

    • This drill is especially helpful for athletes with the Flexed and Off Center. These athletes need to work on Drive, and as a result often lack full extension with the inside push leg and good flexion as the knee drives across the body. By breaking the movement down with the crossover wall drill we are able to increase awareness of these body positions. So, it really comes down to two steps for becoming a pinball.

    1. Improve your Movement Signature through proper strength training

    2. Improve technique through breaking skills down and working on angles

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