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Deceleration Training in Team Sports: Another Potential ‘Vaccine’ for Sports-Related Injury?

McBurnie, Alistair J, Harper, Damian J, Jones, Paul A and Dos’Santos, Thomas (2022) Deceleration Training in Team Sports: Another Potential ‘Vaccine’ for Sports-Related Injury? Sports Medicine, 52 (1). pp. 1-12. ISSN 0112-1642

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Abstract

High-intensity horizontal decelerations occur frequently in team sports and are typically performed to facilitate a reduction in momentum preceding a change of direction manoeuvre or following a sprinting action. The mechanical underpinnings of horizontal deceleration are unique compared to other high-intensity locomotive patterns (e.g., acceleration, maximal sprinting speed), and are characterised by a ground reaction force profile of high impact peaks and loading rates. The high mechanical loading conditions observed when performing rapid horizontal decelerations can lead to tissue damage and neuromuscular fatigue, which may diminish co-ordinative proficiency and an individual’s ability to skilfully dissipate braking loads. Furthermore, repetitive long-term deceleration loading cycles if not managed appropriately may propagate damage accumulation and offer an explanation for chronic aetiological consequences of the ‘mechanical fatigue failure’ phenomenon. Training strategies should look to enhance an athlete’s ability to skilfully dissipate braking loads, develop mechanically robust musculoskeletal structures, and ensure frequent high-intensity horizontal deceleration exposure in order to accustom individuals to the potentially damaging effects of intense decelerations that athletes will frequently perform in competition. Given the apparent importance of horizontal decelerations, in this Current Opinion article we provide considerations for sport science and medicine practitioners around the assessment, training and monitoring of horizontal deceleration. We feel these considerations could lead to new developments in injury-mitigation and physical development strategies in team sports.

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