March 02, 2018
For any athlete in any sport, the connection between the athlete’s body and the ground is the most important factor in generating power. Power to throw a ball, hit a ball, kick a ball, run, jump, and so on comes from the body exerting a force on the ground and the ground exerting a force back on the body. It is the force that the ground exerts on the body that the body uses to generate power. This is a basic law of physics.
So, for an athlete to improve his or her power, he or she needs to improve the ground-body connection. This can be done by the athlete improving his or her size, strength, and functional mobility; improving the friction between his or her feet and the ground; and improving the angles at which he or she engages the ground. We’ll leave the size, strength and functional mobility for another day.
We are familiar with the concept of friction in the ground-body connection; it's why we wear spikes, cleats, etc. The cleats “grip” the ground so we don’t slip. If we slip, we can’t do an athletic movement well. Thus, cleats and spikes help improve our ground-body connection by increasing friction between the body and the ground.
An almost unknown way to improve the ground-body connection is to shift the angles between the body and the ground. A conventional athletic stance places weight evenly on the forefoot to create perpendicular weight bearing forces between the ground and the body. The lower half of the body transfers the perpendicular weight bearing forces into an athletic force and a leakage force. The athletic force is what is used for the athletic movement and the leakage force is wasted. The greater the leakage force, the less force there for the athletic force.
By shifting weight to the inside of the forefoot, the angles between the ground and body are changed. The weight bearing forces are shifted inward, which decreases leakage force and increases athletic force.
More athletic force translates into more power for executing an athletic movement. So, for a player looking to increase his or her power, work on shifting your weight bearing forces to the inside of your forefeet and the inside of your legs.
For those of you that want a brief overview of the physics:
Newton’s first law of motion states that a body (i.e., the athlete’s body) at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it. For athletic movements, the ground provides the outside force acting on the body to put it in motion. The force provided by the ground (called the “ground reactive force”) is equal to and opposite the force applied by the body on the ground. Thus, a strong body helps create the force applied by the body on the ground, but without the ground pushing back, there is no force to generate power for an athletic movement.
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