Normally we dream of going fast. But knowing how to slow down and stop is just as important.

Decline training—a series of movements that help you slow down, redirect, or stop—teaches the body how to control and safely absorb forces. For athletes like rugby players and soccer players who are constantly accelerating from zero to 100 and stopping on a dime, proper deceleration improves performance and is key to reducing injury.

Sylvia Bratton, fitness coach for the USA Rugby Women’s National Team, says being able to slow down with control is just as important for non-athletes.

“As we get older, we tend to lose our coordination, our athleticism and our body control,” said Ms. Bratton, who is an assistant coach for Harvard University’s women’s rugby team. “If you can’t slow down with proper body mechanics while chasing your grandkids around the yard or playing basketball, injuries are more likely to occur. But if we continue to train these qualities, we can continue to excel in athletics, which will have a lasting impact on the overall quality of our lives.

When sidewalks and driveways are icy, being able to slow down to regain our balance is especially helpful in winter. “Improving coordination and deceleration mechanics helps us catch ourselves when we start to fall,” she says. And more One in four people According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ages 65 and older fall every year.

The following exercises strengthen deceleration mechanics, such as dropping the hips and shoulders when decelerating and staying more on the planted leg when changing direction. They’re also a fun way to combine your workout with more planar activities and balance and agility challenges, she says.

Start slow and focus on proper technique and landing in a controlled, stable position, she says. “It’s better to do smaller repetitions and proper form.”

Reverse Eccentric Lunge

why: “Intermittent resistance training, where slow-down exercises keep the muscles under tension for longer periods of time, is a great way to build strength,” Ms Bratton said. This difference in lunges forces us to control lower range of motion while working the glutes and glutes.

why: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step your left leg back until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and slowly lower your body for 3 to 5 seconds. The body and spine of your front foot should be parallel. Pause for 1 second, then push through the heel of your front foot to return to the starting position for a 1 second count. Perform 3 sets of 5 reps on each leg. Rest 1 to 2 minutes per set.

Optional: Hold a weight for an extra challenge.

Mrs. Bratton does reverse lunges.

Drop the Lunge Snap down

why: The added speed component of this exercise increases lung capacity and closely mimics the demands of a rugby match and real-life movements, she says.

why: Stand tall on your legs with your hands up. With your front foot flat and on the ball of your back, lift your heel and quickly drop into the opposite lunge. Use a quick and sharp arm drive to the floor to help increase the speed of the drop. “Think about moving from speed to ice like a statue,” she says. Slowly return to the starting position. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 3 repetitions on each side. Rest 30 seconds between sets.

Options: If your balance is difficult, start with flat feet and work your way up to tiptoes. Add weight for more difficulty.

Mrs. Bratton lunges down a drop.

Two-stage fall rate reduction

why: Being able to stop a fall safely is key to reducing injury. This drill teaches the body to slow down while building one-leg strength.

why: Stand tall, feet hip-width apart. Begin to fall forward with a long spine. Use two steps to stop. The first step is used to break and the second step is to slow down the stick or foot. Landing on a full foot allows for increased balance and faster, more efficient movement. When you kick to break, avoid any internal collapse of the knee. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 3 repetitions on each side. Rest 30 to 45 seconds between sets.

Options: Have a friend stand in front of you as a placeholder, or do this exercise against a wall.

Ms. Bratton demonstrates how to perform a two-step fall speed.

Lateral recovery skater jump

why: Our body moves in different planes of motion. This drill trains single-leg deceleration from the front or side-to-side plane and improves our ability to absorb power.

why: Stand tall, balanced on your left leg. Bend your hips back to press your weight, then push off and then jump off that leg to the right. Swing your arms across the body as you jump. Balance the right leg on the ground with a slight bend in the knees and hips.

“The emphasis should not be on the distance from the jump at first, but on sticking the landing,” she says. Return to the left leg and repeat the movement for the next rep. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 4 repetitions on each side. Rest 30 to 45 seconds between sets.

Optional: Once you are able to post the landing consistently, you can speed up the time to increase the difficulty and strength for additional cardiovascular benefits.

Ms. Bratton performs a lateral record skater jump.

Reduce by half

why: This exercise trains agility, coordination and balance. Great for weekend warriors who play cutting sports like basketball or soccer, the half-round deceleration exercise reinforces getting into good deceleration positions from running, she says.

why: Run forward and after 10 to 15 feet, slow down by dropping your shoulders slightly to the right and the inside of your hips. When your right foot is planted, complete a half bend to the right. Park in an athletically ready position with smooth knees and flexion and flexion. Stick and hold the position before running forward again 10 to 15 feet and lower in a half-turn position to the left face. Alternate half in each direction for a total of 3 half round decreases on each side. Do 3 to 4 sets. Rest 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Increase the running speed to run to progress.

Ms. Bratton demonstrated the deceleration in a half lap exercise.

Zigzag Tempos

why: After the above exercises help strengthen your squatting position, this exercise will improve your ability to get in and out of those positions and make you more efficient, she says.

why: Place 6 to 8 cones or markers in a zigzag pattern, 10 to 15 feet apart, 3 to 4 reducers on one side. Start with one cone and move to the next at a controlled speed. Lower by bending at the knee and flexing at the hip of the planted leg while maintaining a long spine. To push off the cone, push down on the planted leg and run to the next one. Cut each cone as you reach it. Keep the shoulders squared up through the entire drill. Try to be a statue on each cone before running to the next one. When accelerating, you need to take more power to decelerate effectively. Perform 3 to 4 sets, resting 30 to 60 seconds in between.

Mrs. Bratton performs zigzag times.

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How do you implement agility into your workouts? Join the discussion below.

Write to Jane Murphy at

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