What Makes an Athlete?

May 24, 2019 | Aaron Crouch, DPT, CSCS, SFG1

It’s the ability to stop.

I can still vividly remember watching Reggie Bush’s dominance on the gridiron at USC. One run play comes to mind that was the perfect demonstration of athletic prowess, and in my opinion is the clear definition of what defines true agility.

He navigates through the trenches, and eventually breaks loose for an open field race to the end zone. As he is accelerating along the sidelines to his top end speed of an impressive sub 4.5 40-yard dash time, the last defender in the secondary approaches from the side in an attempt to stop the score. In order to evade the oncoming tackle, he transitions from top end linear speed to an immediate stop, in a blink of the eye, to allow the defender to pass right in front of him and then accelerating once again to a an eventual touchdown.

Whether you are a fan of USC, Reggie Bush, or football in general, we cannot deny that incredible athleticism and agility were on display during that play. The ability to stop and start again from top speed is an incredible skill, and requires a certain level of tissue tolerance and specific progression in order to successfully utilize during any given task. Now, football is the current example, but lets not discount the role of deceleration during everyday tasks, such as sitting down, getting down to the floor, walking downhill, changing direction, etc. So whether you are a weekend warrior, developing athlete, outdoorsman, or simply living life to the best of your abilities, the act of deceleration is at the foundation of what you do, which then places more importance on the knowledge of appropriate progression to both improve performance (however you’d like to define that) and reduce injury

There is a progression for everything, but how do we navigate the myriad of resources, exercises, drills, etc. that exist? It would be virtually impossible to define agility without subcategories, hence the specific progression of Linear Deceleration.

Linear Deceleration Progression
We start with a linear direction of deceleration because typically during development of human movement, simply running (not stopping) in a straight line (linear) happens immediately following strength progressions in the performance continuum. To further break down the progression, double base of support occurs before single base of support, as well as moving from no impact to eventual lift off and landing.

The movements and drills noted above can be found on our Instagram and Facebook.)

The examples used in our educational series are meant to display the progression of linear deceleration with respect to the variables I just listed. We recognize the fact that there may be other exercises, or drills, that could be plugged in, or replace the existing ones, but through years of experience working with the general population, and elite athletes, the ones listed in that particular order have resulted in positive outcomes.

So whether you are a performance coach, clinician, or someone looking to enhance their agility skills, we hope that this series of Linear Deceleration progression helps focus your training. As mentioned earlier in the post, this information is a single subcategory of the overarching umbrella of Agility, which means more series’ are to come in the near future! If you enjoyed this learning process, then stay tuned for more coming down the pipeline on our social media accounts, as well as upcoming online resources on our website.

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