Speed / Movement / Agility

Bone Growth and Youth Development


Adam Boily MS, MATJS, USAW

Here might be the most commonly asked question a strength & conditioning professional must answer to youth athlete parents.


“Will my 13 year old child (or younger or teenager) have a stunted growth from lifting weights?”


It depends. It depends if the athlete is exercising biomechanically correct or not. Stunted bone growth may occur when the open growth plates located at the ends of bones become damaged. Damaged open growth plates can happen for various reasons, which include an injury from sport or poor exercising technique. For example, if a 12 yo athlete playing soccer sustains a trauma to the knee in a soccer game, he/she could incur growth plate damage around the knee. Another way an athlete can sustain growth plate damage in the knee would be biomechanically incorrect weight-bearing exercises. Say a 10 yo athlete is front squatting and during every repetition their right knee caves in with a valgus moment. If an expert S&C coach is not there coaching the athlete out of these poor mechanics, overtime knee growth plate damage might occur before the plate close. However, most youth athletes will not experience growth plate damage from training or in sport as long as qualified professionals are monitoring exercises.

It’s important to develop youth athletes through sport and training participation because their young bodies and minds are like sponges and we want them to learn exercise technique and proper nutrition before they may learn bad habits. To avoid growth plate damage in young athletes, their training should be focused on light loads (body weight or light weights) so they can learn the intention of each exercise. When an athlete is below the age of 13 yo, they benefit tremendously from learning proper biomechanically correct exercise techniques and become strong through a long amount of isometric exercises. Before weight is increased for the youth athletes, volume and isometric times should be increased substantially so proper technique is reinforced and the athlete naturally performs exercises biomechanically correct. These exercises may include squatting, pressing, pulling, running, and jumping. Typically we find that athletes starting to exercise around 5-8 yo will become strong enough and biomechanically adequate for progressive resistance training when they reach 14 yo. Also, at this point, the growth plates are still open/undamaged and these athletes will start peak height velocity (puberty).

Surges of hormones, including testosterone, are beginning to flow through the athlete naturally. This is the ideal time for athletes to exercise with heavier resistance and advanced plyometrics. With the surge in hormones and advanced strength and conditioning volume combined, the athlete will experience hypertrophy of lean muscles, increased bone density, length, and girth as well as other bodily tissue growing. Sometimes, an athlete will grow rapidly and the muscles become stretch so fast that the brain has a hard time communicating to or controlling the muscles during this growth. In this case the athlete will become clumsy or uncoordinated (you may have this seen this with young basketball players). However, if during this time that same athlete were in a proper training program, especially involving isometric exercises (pillars or infant squats), their muscles would remain strong and would not become as clumsy. During this time of puberty, the athletes’ recovery time will be much more rapid allowing them to endure progressive amounts of volume from day to day and week to week.

To some it all up, participating in unsupervised training or with unqualified coaches could potentially put youth athletes in scenarios that could damage growth plates. Again, few youth athletes experience stunted growth and damaged growth plates and these rare occurrences from improper movements should not detour youth athletes from exercising young. The benefits a youth athlete receives from intelligent training and sport play are far too valuable to be passed up. There are many brilliant minds and a plethora of scientific research that shows bone growth will be improved (sometimes more than genetics had planned) rather than stunted through biomechanically sound youth training. Depriving a youth athlete from proper training before, during and after their peak height velocity is doing that athlete a major disservice and could potentially cause that athlete to never reach their full genetic potential.


*For more information join our BPSU and go research and study the work of Istvan Balyi (an expert in long term athlete development).


Any Running Back needs to be able to easily and fluently switch the ball from one arm to the next with ease. They also need to be able to stay low on change of directions, and change directions on a dime.

This drill first and foremost focuses on ball control. Note how our NFL RB clients Malcolm Agnew, Nick Hill, and Aaron Ripkowski moves throughout the drill. The ability to change hands is a trainable effect, and note how this drill forces the player to change arms efficiently.

The next focal point is staying low on changes of direction. Note with the cones as a target just focuses on bending at the knees with an upright torso position. This is a pure endurance drill that will train the muscles of the hips and legs in deep bending positions.

Finally, the changes of direction are sharp and crisp. Note the “positive” angles of the hips, where the emphasis is placed on the inside edge of the outside foot. This is essential to performance on the most difficult cuts a RB can make – specifically the “jump cut” that success is dictated by an athletes ability to get low and dip the inside shoulder – in almost the exact same angle as seen on each cone cut. The deceleration step off the outside edge of the inside leg sets up this hard change of direction off the outside leg. Perfect drill for utilizing both edges of the feet at extreme angles.

3 Rules for Youth Athlete Speed Development

Adam Boily MS, MATJS, USAW

3 Rules for Youth Athlete Speed Development

  • The Structure Rule

CAMPS – Before any training sessions, it is always important to have the structure of the training session outlined for maximal efficiency to maximize adaptations.  First, we need to increase the threshold ability of accepting and redirecting force for the ankles, knees, hips, trunk, and upper extremities.  This means, a well-designed CAMPS is vital for ensuring an athlete is prepared to execute the planned work for the day.  For example, start with SSP and progress from isometric modifications to full reflexive movements.  Once the base of support for the body is strong and tissue temperature is elevated, progress into SST that is skewed to prepare the muscles related to the planned movement or exercises of the day.

Application/Technical/Application – After an appropriate CAMPS muscle preparation, it’s recommended that the athlete begins the planned work with application first.  For instance, if the goal for the day is to increase the athletes ability to perform forward mutli-directional cuts (similar to a wide receiver in American football) we would begin by sprinting forward full speed then cutting diagonally at a 130* angle.  During the execution of the movement the coach can start to identify which aspect for the run and cut needs improvement from various vantage points.  After, 10-15 minutes of continuous application work, the coach can teach athletes a technical drill that is most appropriate for improving the application for the day.  For example, if more than 50% of the athletes in a group or training session are having issues executing an outside edge forward multi cut, the coach may elect to have the entire group perform the carioca quick step technical drill.  This drill is designed to overload the ground contact force on the outside edge of the foot and inside of the opposite foot.  Once the athlete has performed the drill 1-2 times correctly each direction, it is best to have the athletes finish the session with the same application forward cuts the sessions began with or progress to more difficult modifications of the forward multi movement.  A form of progressed forward multi cuts application could be visual and audible commands that force the athlete to cut based on an outside stimulus rather than a predetermined pattern.  If the most appropriate technical drill has been selected for a given group of athletes, more times than not, the second or final round of application work will be noticeably more efficient.  Progress the difficulty of the movement based on the athletes’ response overtime within the structure of application then technical work then application.

The end of the session can be sport specific by having the athletes sprint or do an application that closely resembles movement within their sport.  For example, a baseball shortstop player may choose to perform a sprint from a baseball-stealing stance.  Perhaps a tennis player will finish his or her session with lateral shuffles with change of direction to lateral shuffles.  Have a well planned structure and don’t stray to far from the planned volume of application work.

  • Technical Rule of Thumb

A very common technical drill utilized with BPS is our variations of the wall drill.  We chose either a linear wall drill, lateral wall drill, back lateral wall drill, etc.  It is typically progressed from isometric single switches to continuous reflexive rapid fire.  It is important that the younger youth athletes and/or beginners remain on isometric modifications.  For example, the isometric lateral wall drill is designed to overload and increased the foot’s abilities to accept and redirect force off of its inside and outside edges.  The fastest way to build a strong foundation of edge strength is to isometrically hold the lateral wall drill for 1-3 seconds facing each direction by switching the legs up and down 2-4 times.  Most growing youth athletes initially lack the strength in the edges of their feet and lack the truck stability necessary to expertly perform the lateral wall drill with reflexive rapid fire.  Technical drills should be performed only for a few reps during a given session since they are very taxing on the central nervous system.  Technical work is important for increasing thresholds for bodily structures and functions but must be supplemental to application work.  If technical work is consuming the majority of a given session, the benefits will not be realized during the application movements.  Technical drills are necessary to quickly improve application movements necessary for sport.  Always remember it is not appropriate to teach people how to form run with technical drills.  However, it is appropriate to improve movement efficiency by overloading and adapting muscle tissue.

  • Volume of Work Rule

Youth athletes require large amounts of volume.  An appropriate work to rest ratio should be around 1 to 2 or 1 to 1.  60-70% of a given session needs to be application work.  30-40% should be CAMPS, plyometrics, and technical work.  For example, on a backward multi-directional day, the first 10 minutes of the session should be specific CAMPS designed to prepare the body for backward multidirectional movements.  After a minute water break a good 10-minute plyometric routine should be completed and progressed based on skill level.  Again, a short water break may be given before the athletes start the first 15 – 20 minutes of application drills (i.e. back pedal or back angle pedals).  Chose between 2-3 appropriate technical drills while keeping in mind total technical work time should not exceed 10 minutes within this hour-long session.  Supper-setting 2 minutes of technical work with the application 3-4 times per session seems to elicit the best response for our youth athletes.  Finish the session on application for the last 15-20 minutes for a total of 30-40 minutes of application work during a given session.  Youth athletes respond and adapt well to large amounts of volume work since hormones are higher during that time of development.  Recovery and growth improvement opportunities are optimal if training structure, technical work, and volume levels are most appropriate.

Upper Body Strength-based Preparation


Pete Bommarito, MS, CSCS, USAW, MATS, MAT JS


For any upper-body strengthening program to truly be efficient, there must be proper joint preparation.  This is beyond just a standard “warm-up”.  This is really focusing on preparing the joints for the motions that will be encompassed within the session.  It’s also important to remember this type of preparation of the joints is a training system over time – not just to prepare for the succeeding workout.  As with any warm-up / preparation, the stimulus can be overloaded over time, as the various systems of strength are increased and overloaded throughout the overall program.


The obvious basics of strengthening always centers on these main aspects – absolute strength, speed strength, dynamic eccentric loading, and reversal strength.  No matter what the “theme of the day” is – one (or more) of these main four aspects are centered within two primary upper body motions – pressing strength, and pulling strength.  To properly prepare joints for all aspects of strength with pressing and pulling motions, an understanding of all of the main joints and main joint motions for the upper body is essential:

  • Shoulder flexion (to humerus parallel to ground)
  • Shoulder flexion continued overhead
  • Shoulder abduction
  • Shoulder adduction
  • Shoulder extension
  • Scapular protraction
  • Scapular retraction
  • Scapular elevation
  • Scapular depression
  • Humeral rotation

There are many variations and subdivisions of each of these motions (such as shoulder horizontal abduction/adduction, elbow flexion/extension), but for simplicity purposes, the focus will be on these aforementioned motions.


No matter what form of the four main aspects of strength for either pressing motions or pulling motions encompassed within with exercises for the workout, a combination of each of these joint motions will be utilized.  Hence, it is always good practice to encompass these motions with slow controlled tempos and isometrics at various ranges to properly warm-up and prepare for the workout.  The following exercises use one or more of the motions described above.  These exercises can be referenced in the Exercise Database section of the online University (Strength, Upper Body, Auxillary).  Again, it is necessary to understand the following exercises can be overloaded over time – by increasing the load (or weight), increasing the tempo, and/or increasing the isometric hold at various angles.


Shoulder V-Raise (thumbs up) / Rotate

–       Shoulder flexion (to humerus parallel to ground)

–       Humeral internal/external rotation at a shoulder flexed position

–       Isometric strengthening at a shoulder flexed position with isometric scapular retraction at this flexed position

–       Shoulder extension


Shoulder T-Raise (palms down) / Shrug

–       Shoulder abduction

–       Scapular elevation

–       Scapular depression

–       Isometric strengthening in shoulder abducted position with isometric scapular retraction at this abducted position

–       Shoulder adduction


Shoulder V-Y Raise (thumbs up)

–       Shoulder flexion (to humerus parallel to ground)

–       Continued shoulder flexion overhead 

–       Shoulder extension 

–       Isometric strengthening in shoulder flexed position with isometric scapular retraction at this flexed position

–       Shoulder extension


Shoulder T-Raise / Rotate

–       Shoulder external rotation

–       Shoulder abduction in externally rotated position 

–       Shoulder internal rotation in abducted position 

–       Shoulder external rotation in abducted position 

–       Isometric strengthening in shoulder abducted position with isometric scapular retraction at this abducted position 

–       Shoulder adduction in externally rotated position 


Scapular Pushups (hands)

–       Scapular retraction

–       Scapular protraction


Scapular Pushups (elbows)

–       Scapular retraction

–       Scapular protraction

–       Note that this scapular retraction and protraction is with the intention of pressing isometrically into shoulder horizontal abduction.  Because the entire forearm is on the ground, it’s easy to perform a good isometric contraction into horizontal abduction (pushing out) while the concentric/eccentric action of scapular retraction/protraction is occurring.  This is the main difference between the Scapular pushups from the hands or elbows – the elbows allows for this unique intention, which changes the exercise completely.


As stated earlier, there are many different exercises and variations of exercises that can accomplish the goals of:  preparing for the immediate workout; and develop an increased tolerance to loads of future workouts.  This 6-exercise systems definitely is a great place to start because it encompasses isometric, concentric, and/or eccentric strengthening / preparation of all motions of the shoulder and scapular required during any variation of exercises for pressing strength and pulling strength.  Examples:

–       Standard bench/board/floor press exercise – there is isometric contraction of the scapular retractors, with concentric shoulder horizontal abduction and elbow extension; with slight scapular protraction at the end of the press.

–       Standard rowing exercise – there is scapular retraction, with concentric shoulder extension (and possibly shoulder horizontal abduction, depending on the row variation) with elbow flexion; and isometric contraction of the scapular retractors during the eccentric action of the row with scapular protraction at the end of this eccentric

–       DB pressing/rowing  depending on the variation of the use of the DB press or row, there can be humeral internal/external rotation involved.


This provides a great basic summary of the actual joints (and joint motions) involved in the primary exercises during a typical upper body workout.  An efficient way to prepare for increased loads of pressing and pulling for the workout would be to “warm-up” with these joint motions with low loads, slow tempos, and isometric contractions at key points in the ranges of motion.

Deceleration Bounding Series

Deceleration Bounding Series


A vast amount of literature exists for bounding plyometric drills when it comes to forward sprinting.  Acceleration bounds with a piston action (alternating leg and single leg) can be used to enhance first step, acceleration, and continuation through the drive phase.  It can also be used to enhance any re-acceleration out of any deceleration or change of direction.  Absolute speed bounding with a cyclical action (alternating leg only) can be used to enhance the “transition” of gravity dictates the body becomes upright, and continuation onto absolute speed and absolute speed maintenance.

Plyometrics implemented to enhance deceleration mechanics is extremely efficient, but often under-utilized in many programs.  Any change of direction can be considered a form of deceleration.  In addition, any change of speed, even in a linear direction, can also be considered a form of deceleration.  The BPS Acceleration-Deceleration Zone series on the University exemplifies a great basic form of overall deceleration and re-acceleration.  As previously noted, this can be an excellent training system to enhance any change-of-direction, any change of speed in a linear motion, and any change of speed into a change-of-direction.  All of which will occur in any sport at any position at various speeds and angles.

The Deceleration bounding series outlined here and exemplified in the Exercise of the Week can really set a solid base of eccentric loading, and the stretch-reflex necessary for any type of “braking mechanics” – specifically those seen in the Accel-Decel Zones.  A good way of thinking about the deceleration step (or slowing down of speed) is that the base of support is placed in front of the center of mass, dictating that the absorption of force through the ankle joint and a subsequent dynamic action of knee extension will occur to provide the “brake.”  Keep in mind that the knee won’t actually extend, but the knee extensors dynamic strength will enhance this overall motion.

Back Deceleration Bound – individual

  • Concept of “pushing” aggressively with the knee extensors to maximize height and distance (powerful knee extension and subsequent plantarflexion)
  • Smooth land and sink at the hip-knee-ankle joint
  • Isometric pause at the quarter squat position to “decelerate” the landing and raise the threshold of the high speed eccentric loading force and isometric strength and stability
  • Hip extensors and knee extensors forced to eccentrically load

Back Deceleration Bound – individual (arm action)

  • Same as above, except the arm action will propel the body higher and farther to increase the challenge of the overall system

Back Deceleration Bound – continuous

  • Continuation of “pushing” aggressively with the knee extensors into a continuous bounding motion
  • Quick land and dynamic re-acceleration bounding action to limit ground contact time
  • Utilize the threshold build from the individual series to enhance the stretch reflex of the knee extensors to propel the body into the bounding action

Back Deceleration Bound – continuous (arm action)

  • Same as above, except the arm action will propel the body higher and farther to increase the challenge of the overall system

Forward Deceleration Bound – individual

  • Involves throwing the base of support in front of the center of mass to gain the braking system (powerful triple extension initiated by the hip extension)
  • Smooth land and sink at the hip-knee-ankle joint
  • Isometric pause at the quarter squat position to “decelerate” the landing and raise the threshold of the high speed eccentric loading force and isometric strength and stability
  • Primary eccentric loading now placed on the knee extensors

Forward Deceleration Bound – individual (arm action)

  • Same as above, except the arm action will propel the body higher and farther to increase the challenge of the overall system

An efficient overall program will be to complex the various forms of the bounding with the Accel-Decel Zone series.  This will accomplish a progressive raising of the threshold, utilizing the stretch reflex, and using both of these concepts into a dynamic application drill.  A sample workout plan:

  1. Back Deceleration Bound – individual 1 x 20yd
  2. Back Deceleration Bound – individual (arm action) 1 x 20yd
  3. Accel-Decel Zone 5-5-10yd (sprint 5yd, “jog bound” 5yd, re-accelerate to a full speed sprint 10yd).  2 sets
  4. Back Deceleration Bound – continuous 1 x 20yd
  5. Back Deceleration Bound – continuous (arm action) 4 x 20yd
  6. Accel-Decel Zone 10-10-10yd (sprint 10yd, “jog bound” 10yd, re-accelerate to a full speed sprint 10yd).  2 sets
  7. Forward Deceleration Bound – individual x 20yd
  8. Forward Deceleration Bound – individual (arm action) x 20yd
  9. Accel-Decel Zone 5-5-10-10-10yd (sprint 5yd, “jog bound” 5yd, re-acceleration to a full speed sprint 10yd, “jog bound” 10yd, re-accelerate to a full speed sprint 10yd).  2 sets
  10. Accel-Decel Zone 10-5-10-5-10yd (sprint 10yd, “jog bound” 5yd, re-acceleration to a full speed sprint 10yd, “jog bound” 5yd, re-accelerate to a full speed sprint 10yd).  2 sets



When planning out a preparation for the movement/speed/conditioning session for the day, it’s always a good idea to include a good amount of exercises that is as specific to the patterns that will actually be performed.  In the Preparation section of Bommarito University, there are 4 primary sections for Preparation to be performed at the beginning of all sessions.  And the overall Preparation can be best described as CNS Activation and Muscle/Joint Preparation Systems (CAMPS):

  • Support System Preparation – primarily the “impact” joints of the toes, feet, and ankle
  • Trunk/Spine Preparation
  • Suspension / Support / Trunk (SST) Systems Preparation – focusing on the “link” between the Support and Trunk/Spine which is the suspension system through the hips, knees, and pelvis
  • Unloaded Speed/Movement Preparation

When focusing specifically on the SST Systems Preparation, notice there is an extremely large volume of exercise choices in the database for all 4 sections.  The 4 sections of the SST are:

  • General movement/muscle prep and tissue temperature elevation
  • Local joint isolation
  • Joint mobility/stability
  • CNS activation

The exercises listed on Bommarito University in the CAMPS section are just a sample of thousands of exercises that can be used for preparation.  There are over 150 individual sample exercises just in the SST section alone.  For an athlete to perform every single one of these exercises before a session would take well over an hour.  It’s a given that an hour-plus of preparation is definitely not needed for a session.  The big key question becomes how to choose which exercises on which days.  Some of it needs to be individualized to the client and the specific medical and/or biomechanical needs.  But some exercise selection can also match the specificity of the day.  Some basic examples are outlined below for each of the main movement categories.


The main focus for acceleration should be the full Support System Prep; and the SST System Prep that focuses on hip flexors, hip extensors, and hip separation.  An example of exercises out of the Bommarito Database for SST:

Section 1 – General Prep

    • Activation Prep – Buttkick Raise; Walking Knee Hug Lunge
      • Activation – Walking Lunge; Walking Extended Lunge – pause
        • Activation Prep – Rhythm March – SLOW PAUSE
          • Activation – Explosive Rhythm Lunges

Section 2 – Local Joint Isolation

    • Kneeling/Prone Hip Isolation Series
      • Kneeling Hip Extension – PAUSE and REFLEX
      • Prone Hip Extension – PAUSE and REFLEX
        • Supine Hip/Knee Series
          • Straight (opp leg bent) – PAUSE and REFLEX
          • Bent Straight (opp leg bent) – PAUSE and REFLEX
          • Bent Medial (opp leg bent) – PAUSE and REFLEX

Section 3 – Joint Mobility/Stability

    • Kneeling/Prone Hip Mobility Series
      • Kneeling hip extension/out – PAUSE and REFLEX
      • Kneeling hip extension/rotate/out – REFLEX
      • Prone extension/out – PAUSE
        • Pushup Hip Series
          • Knee Drives
          • Knee Drive Switches

Section 4

    • Back Reach Run – half speed, ¾ speed, full speed
      • Linear Wall drills – singles, triples, rapid fire sprint (from Linear Acceleration script)


Absolute speed, or maximum velocity, is obviously very similar to acceleration in the sense that it is movement in a straight line.  However, because it is moving at much greater speeds, and the leg is moving in more of a cyclical pattern (as opposed to the piston action of acceleration), the body must be prepared for these varying forces.

The Support System Prep through the foot/ankle joints will be similar, but just in lower volumes as compared to acceleration.  Instead of performing the entire sequence, probably just choosing two or three exercise sequences from this system is probably adequate.  Instead, the focus can be transferred more to the Trunk/Spine Preparation, which can make the absolute speed session much more efficient.

Trunk/Spine Preparation:

  • Alignment Position Band stabilization holds (from the right and left side) – since the athlete is set into a kneeling position with the hips separated, the force of the band coming from the right and the left side will emphasize the lateral flexors of the spine from an isometric standpoint while the pelvis is being stabilized in this split position
  • Forward Single Arm Sled March – the “heel dig and pull” action of the sled march will concentrically work the hip extensors.  While the force of the attachment of the sled is coming off of one side of the body (hence, the single arm position), the emphasis is being places on the rotators of the spine from an isometric standpoint as the hip is extending concentrically

SST Systems Preparation:

Section 1 – same as acceleration

Section 2 – same as acceleration

Section 3 – same as acceleration

Section 4 – now shift to more focus on absolute speed preparation

    • Ankling – half speed, ¾ speed, full speed
    • SL Stiff Leg Deadlift – PAUSE and REFLEX
    • Ankling to Buttkick – varying distances
    • Straight Leg March – SLOW PAUSE and FAST REFLEX
    • Straight Leg Skip – individual and continuous


A movement day involving patterns of lateral shuffle, lateral runs, and/or any forward multidirectional day will place a great deal of emphasis on heavy forces across the foot/ankle joints for changes of direction, and using a lot of hip adductors and abductors in various multidirectional runs and motions.

For the absorption of force and re-direction of forces for changes of direction, the entire Support System Preparation would be appropriate.  For the choices of exercises for SST System Preparation, the emphasis could be as follows:

Section 1 – General Preparation

    • Activation Prep
      • Hip Rotate (Glute) March – SLOW PAUSE and REFLEX
  • Activation
    • Hip Rotate (Glute) Skip – Rhythm individual and Power
  • Active Motion
    • Hip Rotate (Glute) Raise
      • Activation
        • Adduction Rhythm – varying speeds
  • Active Motion
    • Lateral Lunge – ROLL FOOT
    • Explosive Lateral Lunge – ROLL FOOT
      • Activation
        • Sumo Squat
  • Active Motion
    • Sumo Squat-outs

Section 2 – Local Joint Isolation

    • Side Lying Hip Series
      • Side Raise – PAUSE and REFLEX
        • Side Lying Hip Series
          • 30-deg Adductor Raise – PAUSE and REFLEX
          • 60-deg Adductor Raise – PAUSE and REFLEX
            • Supine Hip/Knee Series
              • Lateral – rotate out (opp leg bent) – PAUSE and REFLEX
              • Medial – rotate in (opp leg bent) – PAUSE and REFLEX

Section 3 – Joint Mobility/Stability

    • Standing Trunk Series
      • Trunk/Hip Rotations – SLOW and FAST
        • Standing Hip Series
          • SL Isometric ¼ Squat – front extension – slow
          • SL Isometric ¼ Squat – side extension – slow
          • SL Isometric ¼ Squat – side extension – slow

Section 4 – CNS Activation

    • Leg Swing Series
      • Linear – PAUSE and REFLEX
      • Lateral – PAUSE and REFLEX
        • Lateral Wall Drills – doubles (from Lateral Movement script)
        • Lateral Line Bounding – singles (from Lateral Plyometric script)


For a backward multidirectional emphasis, whether it is a backward run or a backpedal/anglepedal weave motion, will be really focusing on hip pivots.  Analyzing hip pivots from a biomechanical standpoint, it’s obvious that a lot of hip horizontal adduction and hip horizontal abduction occurs.   The preparation systems can then be emphasized with these two primary motions.  Just like with lateral and forward multidirectional, changes of direction will place a heavy emphasis on the Support System Preparation (for the foot/ankle joints).  However, one main difference is when executing the Support System Prep for backward emphasis days, the main focus should be on two exercise sequences from this database – Back Dorsiflex Series and Back Low Walk Series.  Instead of performing the entire Support System Preparation on the backward days, it might be more appropriate to just focus on multiple reps of just the Back Dorsiflex and Back Low Walk series.

For the SST Systems Prep, the following sequences have proven to be very appropriate for backward emphasis days:

Section 1 – General Preparation

    • Activation Prep
      • Back Pivot March – SLOW PAUSE and FAST REFLEX
  • Activation
    • Back Pivot Skip – rhythm individual, rhythm continuous, power
  • Active Motion
    • Drop Lunge, Explosive Drop Lunge, Explosive Drop Lunge-pause
      • Activation
        • Adduction Rhythm – varying speeds
  • Active Motion
    • In Place Lateral Lunge – FEET INVERTED
    • Lateral Shifts – FEET INVERTED

Section 2 – Local Joint Isolation

    • Kneeling/Prone Hip Isolation Series
      • Kneeling Side Lift – PAUSE and REFLEX
        • Side Lying Hip Series
          • Side Glute Raise – PAUSE and REFLEX
            • Side Lying Hip Series
              • Adductor Raise – PAUSE and REFLEX

Section 3 – Joint Mobility/Stability

    • Lying Trunk Series
      • Supine Crossovers – PAUSE and REFLEX
      • Prone Crossovers – PAUSE and REFLEX
  • Kneeling Trunk Series
    • Alignment Thoracic Rotation – PAUSE and REFLEX
      • Standing Hip Series
        • SL Squat Touchdown – PAUSE and REFLEX

Section 4 – CNS Activation

    • Leg Swing Series
      • Forward/Backward Circles – SLOW and FAST
        • Back Lunge Series (from Backpedal/Anglepedal script)
          • All 6 levels

As with any preparation for any movement script, the Unloaded Speed/Movement Prep can be a good substitution and change of pace.  However, for the concept of specificity, the exact scripts listed above can really be an efficient way to progress the forces required for the exact movements seen in the training.  Many example and variations of exercises can be substituted, but the main concepts can always be implemented for optimum performance.  To summarize:


  • Full Support System Prep
  • SST Systems emphasis on hip flexors/extensors
    • CNS Activation emphasis on re-directing force


  • Short, quick Support System Prep
  • Heavy emphasis on Trunk/Spine Prep
  • SST Systems emphasis on hip flexors/extensors
    • CNS Activation emphasis on technical mechanics of absolute speed and heavy emphasis on eccentric loading


  • Full Support System Prep
  • SST Systems emphasis on hip abductors/adductors and trunk stability
    • CNS Activation emphasis on dynamic hip mobility and low-grade plyometrics of absorbing forces through the edges of the feet


  • Support System Prep heavy emphasis on forces in a backward pattern (Back Dorsiflex and Back Low Walk Series)
  • SST Systems emphasis on hip horizontal adductors and hip horizontal abductors and trunk mobility
    • CNS Activation emphasis on dynamic hip mobility and force absorption and re-direction in low, deep-bending positions



Pete Bommarito, MS, CSCS, USAW, MATCS, MAT Jumpstart

When thinking about multi-directional movements, many coaches think only in terms of changing directions.  While that is certainly important, there are many additional aspects to consider with regards to movement and speed patterns in “multiple directions”, even before a direction change occurs off of the pattern.  For instance, an analysis of what is occurring during a highly dynamic “lateral” motion, which is a pattern that is commonly placed into speed/movement-training programs could lead to three primary options:


There are numerous other primary options for movement in a multi-directional sense – such as lateral shuffle, backpedal/anglepedal, and forward multi-directional – but they are more controlled motions.  Looking at a faster, more dynamic motion, including when it needs to be executed at full speed, the three primary aforementioned motions apply.

Note the motions uploaded to the Exercise Database (also featured in the 6-2-15 “Exercise of the Week.”).

Lateral Run (LR)

This is basically a full sprint motion with the line of sight perpendicular to the motion.  Note that the shoulders must remain square to the line of motion.  However, the “piston” action of the acceleration is very similar to a regular linear sprint motion.  The exact same phases of the sprint cycle still occur:

  • Residual phase – moment from the time the foot leaves the ground to the moment that the thigh begins forward motion (flexion)
  • Recovery phase – moment from the initiation of thigh flexion to the end range of motion of thigh flexion
  • Transitional phase – end range of motion of thigh flexion to initiation of thigh extension
  • Ground preparation phase – initiation of thigh extension to ground contact
  • Ground contact phase – the entire phase the foot is in contact with the ground.

Note the extreme similarities to a regular linear acceleration – the “piston action” of the legs are the exact same with two distinct differences:

  1. There is additional contributions of the abductors and adductors during the Recovery Phase and Ground Preparation Phase, leading the piston action across to the center of mass (COM) of the body during Recovery to slightly outside of a linear sprint position during Ground Preparation
  2. There is different challenges of stabilizing the foot during Ground Contact since the absorption of force and redirection of force during this phase is slightly off the edges of the feet

The contributions to motion are also the exact same as a linear sprint:

  • Conscious activation of muscles
  • Stretch reflex mechanisms after Ground Contact and upon Transitional Phases
  • Sub-conscious reflex (Crossed-Extensor Reflex) – meaning the efficient arm action will lead to a more efficient leg piston action; in a sense, the arms lead the legs and still should be trained and coached as such – just like in linear sprinting

A lateral run motion is specific to many sports.  The most obvious being a Linebacker in football, a tennis player, a soccer player – any sport which a high dynamic (or full speed) lateral motion must occur, but the line of sight must be different than the actual motion (like a Linebacker running along the line of scrimmage, but the line of sight is on the QB, not the direction of motion).   However, almost every single sport uses this motion, even if it’s only a step or two (examples is basketball, volleyball, a baseball infielder, lacrosse, etc.).

Back Lateral Run (BLR)

This is essentially the exact same movement pattern as LR, with the only difference being the proprioception of the line of sight.  Note that in a LR, the athlete can still view where he/she is running out of the peripherals (even if the line of sight isn’t exactly looking to the end destination of the motion).  In the BLR, the head is rotated so the line of sight is exactly in the opposite direction of the motion.  There is zero chance of any sight of end destination of the run.  This places a much greater challenge of efficiency of the piston leg action because the proprioceptive concept of “running full speed where you are not looking”.  Keep in mind that this is a trainable effect.  The more comfort an athlete has in this new proprioceptive stimulus, the more efficient the overall motion can be.

A BLR is also specific to many sports.  The most obvious being a defensive player in football moving away from the line of scrimmage (but sight still being in the offensive backfield on the QB or skill players being covered); a baseball outfielder tracking down a fly ball; or a defensive player in soccer covering a man but sight being on the ball.  Just like LR, a BLR is still specific to many sports even if it’s only one step (again examples like basketball and volleyball).

Back Angle Lateral Run (BALR)

This follows the exact same concepts as the BLR.  The only difference being that the head is rotated to a greater angle, which increases the challenge of the overall proprioceptive stimulus.

This is still specific to all the aforementioned sports.  A great example being a defensive player in football that needs to move away from the line of scrimmage (LOS) with line of sight being on the QB – but the angle of moving away from the LOS isn’t always a direct perpendicular line to the LOS (as it would be with the BLR).  Many times it’s on an angle – hence the Back Angle Lateral Run.

It’s interesting to note that the BLR and BARL still have the exact same motions and challenges of the lower body action as seen in the LR.  The main increase of the challenge lies in the proprioceptive stimulus of maintaining efficient movement patterns with head turned 90 degrees (BLR), or greater (BALR) and no peripheral vision of end destination of the motion.

Changing Directions (COD)

All three of these motions (LR, BLR, BALR) can have two primary categories of a change of direction off of the motion:

  • Change of direction to the “same side”
  • Change of direction to the “opposite side”

Both of these categories are exemplified in the Exercise Database.  A change of direction to the same side can be a sprint out of the LR/BLR/BALR along the same line.  Note that there can be times where a LR changes into a full speed sprint on a slight angle.  This category is mainly any COD that is greater than 90 degrees off of the LR/BLR/BALR.  There should be no loss of speed (in advanced athlete cases, speed can actually be gained off of the COD), and it’s a “cut” off of one foot.

A change of direction to the opposite side is any COD off of a LR/BLR/BALR that is less than 90 degrees.  It can be a “full turn” – like shown in the Pro Shuttle drill, or it can be at a slight angle.  In this case, there must be a breaking deceleration step, slight stop, and re-acceleration.  Hence, it’s a COD off of two feet.  The edges of the feet and the ability to absorb force and redirect force off the edges of the feet are of primary importance.  Note that the “break deceleration” step will always be on the outside edge of the foot of the inside leg; and the “stop and re-redirecting” step will always be off of the inside edge of the foot of the outside leg.  Primary plyometrics and footwork drills off the edges of the feet thus become great building blocks to overall efficiency of these 3 motions and any changes of direction off of these 3 motions.

It’s also important to note that these three primary motions (LR, BLR, BALR) and all of the changes of direction need to be trained for all sports.  Don’t always think in terms of training in to be exactly sport specific.  Sometimes its essential to get the full training effect, as shown with the minimum of 5-yard motions demonstrated in the Exercise Database.

A great example of this is basketball players.  Watching this unique sport, and the movement requirements of this sport, it’s easy to identify that these motions do occur, but almost always within a very short, confined space.  Hence, there is rarely a time where a basketball player executes a LR, BLR, or BALR for 5 yards.  It’s always just a step or two.  However, in training this motion, sometimes it’s best to carry the motion out 5 yards.   This obviously does not look like what occurs in the sport – but remember, we are training for efficiency, not just trying to recreate the sport.  If you want to be more efficient at the exact motions required for basketball, play basketball.  We are performance coaches, NOT sport coaches.  Our job is to maximize efficiency of motion, to be able to be applied to the sport.  If an athlete executes a full speed LR for 5 yards, think of what is occurring towards the end of the 5-yard motion.  The body is moving at greater speeds, especially with the piston action – meaning that the muscle action and the stretch reflex mechanisms, and the challenges of absorbing and redirecting forces through the edges of the feet are now greatly intensified.  This intensified “training of the muscles” will have a greater transfer to the sport, when only a step or two is required.  Also, moving at greater speeds throughout the 5-yard zone will greatly increase the challenges of changing directions off of the motion (and thus the deceleration and re-acceleration components of the muscles during this COD).  Again, the training effect of the muscle action during this drill will have a greater transfer to the sport because the threshold of accepting and redirecting these forces is constantly being raised throughout the training cycle.


This line of thinking of “training muscles, NOT recreating motions” is important when considering all aspects of sports performance.  But it really holds great value when analyzing LR, BLR, and BALR.