I, for one, am incredibly excited about some of the ultimate film I’ve seen this year, and no one impresses me more than Luke Johnson’s team at FulcrumPro. I love their stuff because they see the game as players, and their highlight reels showcase developing plays as well as layout blocks and spectacular scores. Watching their reels this year, I was fascinated by the seconds leading up to the “big moments,” the quality and kind of movements and positions required to create the situation where the best things can occur.
I see these moments with the eyes of a strength & conditioning professional, so I’m hoping I can help you put some fancy sunglasses on in this piece and see things my way…demystify these events a bit! And if you want to polish up some of these moves so YOU can create your own incredible moments? You can start by following some of the links in the article and adding a few different drills into your training. Or if you prefer a more systematic approach to skill development, you can check out my season for RISE UP – I provide in depth explanations of the progression through soft tissue/mobility/activation/strength elements that comprise these movement patterns, guiding the translation from good off-field work to spectacular on-field performance.
Okay, on to the awesomeness…
“Pretty Sure She Didn’t See That One Coming” : Riot vs. Brute Squad, Nationals 2015
Geli (Angelica Boyden) travels so far in order to make this play, all the way from the handler’s right shoulder to way out beyond her left, and manages to reach out with her foot at the end of it. How’d she do that?!
View full video courtesy of FulcrumPro (block at 1:35)
- She had a great low defensive stance that helped her move quickly and be ready to deliver – skipping and staying light on the feet might have covered the same amount of ground, but she wouldn’t have had the connection to the ground to stretch the blocking leg far enough.
- She chops her knees, generating tons of power into the ground with both feet.
- Her shin angles are working for her, pushing her body laterally in the direction she wants to go.
- She uses good arm action to generate faster movement and maintain balance.
- Awesome groin/adductor/hip mobility creates the leg extension for the block.
- Her solid knee stability on the standing leg (during the block) reduces injury risk.
“Dat Separation Doh” : Mixtape vs. Mental Toss Flycoons, 2015 Northwest Mixed Regional Finals Endzone O is all about the first 3 steps, since often they’re the only ones you get, and defenders are all on point! Mixtape’s #81 (Lani Nguyen) gets in a great position to catch the goal with those first 3 steps. How’d she do that?!
(Go to 1:59 mark for first three steps)
- She drops her base – that means more power is available to her and her first step can be harder.
- She turns her hips and establishes a strong accelerative shin angle.
- She maintains good posture as she goes hard – her core doesn’t collapse just because her feet are churning!
- She times her first step for when her defender is off balance. Contrast her body angle to her defender’s – without seeing the rest of the clip you could guess what was going to happen.
“Whatever It Takes” : Los Angeles Aviators vs. Vancouver Riptide. June 23rd 2015
This is different from many other spectacular layout grabs because of the spontaneity of movement required to make the catch – the Aviators’ Jeff Silverman has to find every inch of extension while fighting to hold onto the disc. How’d he do that?!
- First of all, check out that great crossover step – he’s really moving somewhere, using good shin angles and getting his footstrike behind the body.
- He has good functional overhead shoulder mobility and off-hand coordination, allowing him to make a left-handed twisting grab at full extension.
- His plyometric power off his jumping foot is legit – not a lot of knee bend and no loss of posture or core control on the takeoff.
- In general, his movement competence is sound – he’s able to keep his head up and twist weirdly, and not even break himself on the landing (though the right arm coming down first worried me for a minute). Having that degree of familiarity and comfort with athletic movement gives you many more choices on the field, and lets your body react instinctively to the demands of the moment, even if the demands are large and not accustomed.
Feeling inspired? Here’s a quick practical tip: between the time when you start doing field work and competition time looms, bust out a video camera. Film yourself doing 3-step approaches, running a 40, doing a marking drill. If you know how to analyze the film for movement quality, do it – if you don’t, get someone else to help you. Complex athletic movements are totally trainable, but sometimes it requires breaking them into smaller pieces before you put them back together. Find the resources available to you, whether online or getting knowledge from local professionals/players, and always keep learning!! :)