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Is the "false step" making me slower?

First we must establish that there are over arching rules that all of our bodies follow in order to create motion. I do not have a doctorate in human biomechanics but I am a professional in body movement in space. Plus, these things are very apparent:

  1. Every athlete must use gravity and leverage to allow them to create an advantageous position for movement in a given direction. An easy indicator of this, in a sprint for example, is the angle of the shin. When an athlete is trying to go towards point B or a player, the body will automatically create the angle that it feels is best for that athlete to accomplish the task the easiest and fastest.

  2. Every athlete uses, a counter-movement to do so. To jump higher, you go down first before you go up. To throw harder, you wind up before release. In tennis, there is the split step as you receive a serve. So the same goes for sprinting. In open chain movement your body must create energy somehow to create an advantageous environment for explosion and speed. Thus, the false step or taking a step back is not “false”, it is in fact extremely necessary. This is beyond the scope of this but I highly recommend looking into elasticity, tendon stiffness, etc and seeing how these are better for making fast sport movements than muscles are.

Since we now understand that everyone must follow these rules we must understand the nuances and caveats of these rules, the meat and potatoes of coaching athletes.

  1. Athletes play better when they are not worried about doing something wrong. Athletes also train better and are more free to express who they are when they are not worried about doing something wrong. So first they must know that taking that step back is actually helping them, not hindering them. This realization usually creates a smile and instant freedom. Immediate trust is established because they have always known this deep down.

  2. A caveat, if they are taking a huge step back that creates a bad shape and a bad rhythm, then yes, we must make them aware of this because this will make someone slower.

  3. They should understand that their posture and body control at the initiation of movement is way more important. When they initiate movement, does their whole body go backwards? Cause if so, their lack of coordinated control is what is holding their “explosiveness” back, not their “false step”. Is their back rounded when they start a sprint? Does their whole body shift the opposite way during a change of direction drill? These are indicators of poor posture and movement control and must be addressed IMMEDIATELY.

    1. COACHING TIP: In easy way to see this is to watch their head. Even at the college level, I have athletes in which their head moves all over the place when doing marches or skips, so sure enough when we sprint or work on change of direction, they have less control over their movement then their teammates. And also sure enough the sport coaches complain about that athletes ability to accomplish skill based tasks in an appropriate fashion. So we must not let them slack for a second on bad shapes in marches or skips and also make them aware of what they are doing. Then be consistent in giving them movement drills so they can improve.

Now I am not talking about sport specific steps. In softball your first step could mean the difference between getting someone out or not, they must be prepared to step anywhere at any time.


What you should coach instead of worrying about a false step:

  1. Shapes. When an athlete changes direction what kind of shape are they creating? Are both shins pointing in the direction they want to go? Where is the head?

  2. Timing. Just like in dance, a slant route, or hitting a change up, timing is everything. So coach contralateral movement and correct timing and movement drills.

  3. Posture. We do not want to create robots; howeva (Stephen A smith voice) we must notice body posture during the warmup. Are we seeing slouching? Are we leaning forward during skips and marches?

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