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March 30, 2014

Conventional Training in an Unconventional World: Why 3D Training in Sports Matter

By Kaleena Ruskin

With all these World Cup games going on, it’s easy to see why soccer players are some of the world’s most elite athletes. They walk, run, sprint, and jump forwards, backwards, upwards, and laterally. It’s 90 minutes of extreme physical demands-which explains those fantastic physiques! As a local soccer coach, I know first hand that we coaches tend to focus on the tactics of how to win the game versus how we move as humans within the game. It is now becoming increasingly important, especially within youth sports, to develop fundamentally sound movement patterns to not only develop agility and coordination, but to prevent injury.

From experience, I believe that 3 dimensional training, training within all 3 planes of motion, can be far more superior to conventional training. More often than not, we are contorting our bodies at rapid speeds to adjust to the play of the game. Players do not simply run up and down the field in straight lines! Conventional training methods have athletes training mostly in the sagittal plane (movements forward and backward), but tend to neglect movement laterally and transversely (rotating with our hips, trunk, or spine).

A simple pivot to turn and run another direction requires us to rotate and bound at an angle behind us before we straighten out into a proper sprint, but that’s not something conventional training works on. Every year, approximately 150,000 people suffer from an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) knee injury. Female basketball and soccer players are 2-8 times more likely to suffer from an ACL injury than any other sport, and 70% of those injuries are non-contact.

I’ve watched teammates and players tear their ACL’s when simply landing after jumping or trying to turn and change direction. Conventional injury prevention training has girls and women performing barbell squats or lunges to strengthen the muscle around the knee, but nothing that trains us to decelerate, or land, with excellent stability on one leg after turning or jumping or both simultaneously.

3D training and conditioning changes all of that. For example: explosive lunge forward, explosive lunge laterally, and explosive lunge at posterior (behind you) 135 degree angles. Not only does this target all the muscles of our lower body, but it’s functional and relevant to the sport. Planting to strike a ball: explosive leap forward, defending or getting in the way of shot: explosive leap laterally, pivoting at a sprint or reaching for an errant pass: explosive lunge at an angle.

The body does not remain in a fixed position, and even when we walk we set off a chain reaction between our foot, ankles, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. So training to enhance the effectiveness of this kinetic chain– these linked muscles- is critical to success in athletics (2). We ask our muscles to function in all directions and planes, so why train in only one or two? In order to excellently perform in all planes of motion, we must train in all planes of motion.

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