Keys to Peak Performance – Acceleration, Deceleration and Skill

Acceleration, deceleration and Skill

JANUARY 2015 – Would you get into a fast moving race car knowing it lacked brakes?  Unless you’re a true daredevil the answer is no.

So why do the same thing with your body?  Race car drivers rely on their team to provide three distinct areas of performance: 1) acceleration mechanisms (i.e. engine and fuel injection systems); 2) deceleration and control mechanisms (i.e. brakes, steering mechanisms and tires); and 3) driver skill (sport technique).

During movement your body must also possess efficiency in all three areas to perform at its best.

In the body, the primary job of some muscles is to accelerate movement while others work to decelerate movement. Mobility muscles are those best suited to rapidly shorten, accelerating your body in space. They produce high speed and force. The deeper stability muscles are best suited to decelerate force and provide precise control.

Given the prevalence of non-contact sport injuries, it is evident many sport programs over train mobility muscles and/or under train stability muscles. Optimum performance requires efficiency in both types of muscles.

Acceleration Mechanisms

Are you familiar with your biceps, triceps, hamstrings, quads, lats and rectus abdominus? These are examples of mobility muscles biased during traditional exercise programs to increase strength, speed and endurance.

Training these muscles also helps maintain function as we age, increases bone density and improves sleep patterns.

Deceleration Mechanisms

Are you familiar with your serratus anterior, gluteus medius or peroneus brevis muscles? These are a few important stability muscles best suited to decelerate and control forces on the body.

Sponsor-FitnessThese muscles work in the background of all movement. They play a key role in timing, coordinating multi joint movements, maintaining body alignment, and attenuating force to prevent tissue damage.

Stability muscles specifically provide control during rotational movements such as pivoting, swinging a golf club or tennis racket, and kicking a soccer ball. A comprehensive movement assessment is the best way to identify deficits in this part of the system. By adding a movement specialist to your performance team you can improve sport outcomes and decrease injury risk.

Sport Specific Skill

Technique coaching is an important part of performance training. However, the ability of your coaches to advance sport skill is often limited by deficits in your movement system. If you want to ensure maximum benefit out of the time you spend on sport technique, be sure to simultaneously work on the efficiency of your stability and mobility muscles.

Optimum performance has many variables. Every program should include exercises to 1) maximize acceleration, 2) maximize deceleration and control and 3) advance sport skill.  No one program meets the needs of every athlete and comprehensive testing is required to identify your specific training priorities.  Just as a winning racing team requires a combination of skilled professionals to compete on top, you too should assemble a team of professionals looking at your performance from all angles to help you reach your full potential.

Danielle Debbrecht, PT is a physical therapist and movement specialist at CORE Strategies Physical Therapy, Sport Performance & Medical Fitness in Overland Park. The CORE team specializes in rehabilitation and performance training for clients of all ages and activity levels.  To learn more about CORE’s sport specific programs visit www.coreptkc.com.  Contact Danielle at danielle@coreptkc.com.

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