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Life Strength Fitness Educational Library

Learn how to apply current physiology and nutrition research to improve your health and performance.

Do you want Quick Feet?

If you have ever attended a speed and quickness clinic, you were probably put through drills such as running a maze, quickly stepping over raised ladders or hurdles, or stepping on numbered areas in different sequences with variations of them.  The main objective in these drills is to more quickly move the feet in various directions and patterns.  Is this however, the key to becoming faster and quicker?
 
In reality, by doing such drills, you teach the nervous system to move the feet quicker for extremely short steps!  In addition, many of these drills require lifting of the knees directly upward as in the ladder, hurdle and cone drills.  Thus, you learn up and down leg motion, not forward, backward or side movements as typically occur in game situations.
 
If you closely observe or analyze the movements of extremely quick athletes, you will see that the knees are not lifted high and that most of the movements originate from the hip.  In essence, it is leg (hip) action that is responsible for quickness, not the feet. 
 
Thus, the expression, “quick feet,” is erroneous.  Even the term, “footwork,” is erroneous because it is not the feet that are responsible for quick and fast actions; it is the legs! In addition, having quick feet does not equate to executing a quick movement.
 
How you execute a change of direction - a cutting action - is a critical factor in speed and quickness.  This involves good technique together with the strength and flexibility needed to go through the necessary range of motion. In addition, you need explosive strength in order to execute the change in direction as quickly as possible.
 
The total cutting movement is not easy to master.  Most athletes, when they execute cutting actions, usually take two or three small stutter steps to come to a stop before they can change direction.  This is wasted time and energy in comparison to athletes with good technique who are capable of executing the cut in one step!  That’s right, one step. 
 
Cutting requires some learning and much practice to execute the total cutting movement in one step.  Once the movement is learned, you can then practice executing the cutting movement with different drills.  But only doing foot drills to supposedly increase quickness before you know how to execute a good cutting action will, for the most part, be wasted time and effort.
 
Some of the best exercises to improve cutting actions are done with Active Cords. This includes exercises such as the side lunge, forward lunge, hip rotation, reverse trunk twist, squats, eccentric squats, heel raises, ankle adduction and abduction. By these exercises, you significantly increase speed and quickness, much more so than if you only did more “quick feet” drills.

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