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DEVELOPING BETTER ATHLETES ONE STRIDE AT A TIME

The production of maximum velocity requires the use of joints in order – from the largest to the smallest. Now that you have a greater understanding of using all of the joints possible to produce maximum force, it is important to gain a greater understanding of the sequential timing of these movements.

A classic example of using your joints from largest to smallest is found in almost all rotational skills (ie. throwing a shot, hitting and throwing a baseball, hitting a golf ball, etc). During these sports skills, it is important to utilize “segmental rotation” where the rotational velocity of one joint is transferred into the next joint. For example, if you look at a golf professional hitting a ball, you will notice a very distinct sequence of events……

1. During the takeaway, the golfer will turn the shoulders back prior to turning the hips back which will create “shoulder hip separation” at the top of the backswing as well as allow the golfers weight to be transferred to the back foot.
2. The downswing will be initiated with the hips rotating counter clockwise (for a right handed golfer) while the shoulders “lag” behind and start their movement slightly after the hips. This allows the hips (the larger joint) to move prior to the shoulders (the smaller joint) and start the process of segmental rotation.
3. The shoulders will then begin the downswing in a counter clockwise direction while the hand elbow and hand “lag” behind. The elbow and hand will begin to move in the counter clockwise direction leaving the head of the golf club behind.
4. Finally the club head will begin the downswing and continue to accelerate through impact.

By going through this distinctive series of events, the angular velocity of the hip rotation (the initial movement) is able to be transferred into the shoulders, the shoulders into the elbow, elbow into the wrist and wrist into the club head. This allows the club head to be travelling at its maximum velocity leading up to ball contact. If one of these motions is done out of order (ie. the shoulder and hips rotate together) there is a significant loss in club head velocity and thus ball speed and overall length of the shot. This series of events allows players with a shorter, more compact swing to hit the ball as far as or further than someone with a longer swing, because they are going through the proper sequencing to generate peak club head velocity at impact.

A similar thought process can also be applied to a soccer player striking a soccer ball. If a soccer player performs the proper sequence, with the kicking hip moving forwards and leaving the knee behind, followed by the knee coming forwards and the foot “lagging” behind and finally the foot coming through at contact they will be able to increase their ball speed. If everything moves towards the ball at the same time, then there is a significant loss of power in the shot. This relationship holds true due to the summation of the joints!!!

Thanks and check back next week for Principle #4: The greater the applied impulse, the greater the increase in velocity.

Thanks,
Brian Shackel, MSc