The key to basketball is certainly first step explosiveness and acceleration, but is there more to breaking down a defender than speed and quickness? Basketball isn’t just played in straight lines, it is played laterally as well. There are a lot of stops and cuts involved as well as deceleration, so basketball players must be able to move in multiple directions efficiently.

Lee Taft of Sports Speed, Etc. wrote an amazing article that breaks down the concept of deceleration, and i thought I would share part of that article with you being an advocate for injury prevention and proper athletic development and programming.

Some of the fastest players are not the quickest. Let me explain what I mean. There are some players that can accelerate to near top end speeds in only half the courts distance, yet when they need to change direction they are slow. Why is this the case? The issue with this type of basketball player is the fact they have poor body control and techniques when i t comes to deceleration. You see, they can’t control all that momentum they built up going in one direction and stop it, and re-direct it into a new direction.

Let’s cover some reasons why deceleration is used in the sport of basketball.

1. Deceleration can be in the form of stopping, slowing down, or cutting. Stopping and slowing down are the actual intended act of decelerating purposely. Cutting may or may not be a purposeful act of slowing down. It just may be the fact the cut was at a sharp enough angle it requires the athletes’ momentum to be slowed down some what, even though the hoop player is trying cut aggressively.

2. Deceleration is either a tactic or a reaction to a tactic. What this means is that if the offensive player wants to make the defender think he is stopping so he can get the defender to slow down and maybe let his guard down, and then blow by him with a quick first step acceleration. Now on the other side of the ball, the defender must decelerate as a reaction to the offensive players move. So you see, deceleration isn’t always planned.

3. Obviously there are many reasons why an offensive and defense player will decelerate. The keys to doing it well are to eliminate any unwanted actions that may lengthen the deceleration more than needed or wanted, and use the deceleration in conjunction with the skills of the game of basketball. If you can’t maintain your dribble while cutting (change of direction dribble), or faking the deceleration does you no good. From a defensive perspective- if decelerating is a weak point in your movement skill, playing good hard defense will be a chore!

I hope you take this to heart, deceleration is a major aspect to increasing athleticism and preventing injuries. At Spartan, my key goal is to increase the athleticism of San Antonio’s Basketball Players through developmentally appropriate training programs, which focus heavily on proper deceleration and injury prevention techniques.

For the other half of this article which explains the biomechanics of deceleration and more on Lee Taft and Sports Speed, Etc. check out his site and blog here.


About the Author

Coach Layton is the Head Performance Coach for Spartan Basketball. Layton is a Certified Sports Performance Coach through USA Weightlifting and has trained athletes from the developmental stages to college level athletes.

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