Technical models for change of direction: biomechanical principles


Richard Clarke with Rodrigo Aspe, Debby Sargent, Jonathan Hughes and Peter Mundy

It is commonly reported that team sports utilise multi-directional running patterns containing frequent and varied changes of direction (COD). In order to ensure optimum performance and effective task completion, it is important that strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches understand the key technical parameters associated with the type of COD being executed. Traditionally, the technical model for the execution of an exercise or a movement has been described in detail with step-by-step descriptions of the body’s movements and positions during different phases.8 However, during sports performance, the types of COD performed are task-, environment- and individually-dependent. For example, invasion sports such as football and hockey may contain frequent 180° changes of direction to transition from one end of the pitch to the other (task) in reaction to a change in possession (environment). The specific movement executed will be influenced by these factors, as well as the individual’s capabilities, such as strength levels, range of motion, and anthropometrics.

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