Lateral Deceleration

By Brian Jones


Deceleration is an extraordinarily important, and often overlooked, concept when it comes to any sport that involves starting, stopping and changing direction. Frequently there is a misaligned emphasis placed solely upon acceleration. While the ability to gain speed is very important, unless you are sprinter simply running straight ahead- there are other factors that must be taken into consideration. The concept is simple. The better we slow ourselves down, the more efficiently we can stop and be in a better position to change direction. Athletically, this is a very trainable attribute. The ability to decelerate involves overcoming inertia. The faster the athlete is moving the more difficult it is. Deceleration on the field primarily requires changes in athletes’ center of gravity, strong relative strength to weight ratios, and aligning the body in the correct angles to move into the next position. And of course, practice. It is important to understand that this drill is not designed to mimic an exact position in sport, but rather as a conceptual model and body awareness drill that transfers over to the sporting movements. The Drill: - Set 2 cones up approximately 5-10 yards apart. - Lateral shuffle between the 2 cones remembering to keep the toes straight ahead, and feet parallel to one another. - When you get to each side, “throw” both feet outside of your hips so that your body angle is 45-60 degrees to the ground (the toes should still be straight ahead, and the feet parallel to one another). - Upon contact, immediately push off with both feet explosively, and continue with a lateral shuffle to the next cone. If done correctly you should pop right out of the hole. Remember that we are working on receiving force which is critical when it comes to changing direction efficiently. As you gain more confidence in the drill attempt to increase your speed moving into the edges, and try to jump into and off of the corner. I would recommend going back and forth for 5 touches on each side. Rest about a minute and repeat for a total of 5 sets.

The big concept here is using Newton’s third law that states; for every action (force) there is an equal and opposite reaction (force). By getting the feet outside of the hips the body is in a superior position to not only accept force, but also generate force in the correct lines to change direction quickly with no wasted movement. Progressions to this drill include: - Adding a band to the athletes’ waist in order to over-speed the athlete into the edge, and the force required to get off the edge. Thereby increasing the reactive forces needed to overcome inertia. - Removing the known distance of the cut. This is accomplished by removing the cones and designated distance of the drill. The athlete can have a partner call out when to change direction, or signal the change in direction visually by using his hands. This will make the drill significantly harder and more realistic.

What’s next? To implement this drill into your training, I would suggest doing it after your warm up. At this point in time your body should be prepared to move but not fatigued from strength or conditioning work. This will allow for a better motor learning response. Practicing for 5 to 10 minutes, 1 to 2 days a week is sufficient. This drill can be pretty much be done anywhere you can find the room; in the gym, in the back yard or incorporated into your range session. If done on the range I would suggest doing the drill “dry”, with no weapon in hand, for several repetitions and then doing a shooting drill that incorporates lateral movement. This will allow for better transference of the mechanics. While it is certainly possible to perform this drill with a weapon (obviously safety is paramount here), it is not needed. Again, this drill is not intended to simulate the exact positions that are seen in the sport. It is however designed to learn and integrate the necessary biomechanics of the lower body to efficiently change direction in any sport.

Article By Brian Jones
Strength and Conditioning
Strength and conditioning for the those wishing to improve their shooting performance. Experience from SOCOM and professional athletes, applied for all shooters.


Nice. I have always enjoyed adding agility work to my training. I’ve been following mountain tactical, for a while, and many of their TAC SEPA drills have deceleration. I find the agility portion pretty vital to law enforcement fitness.