3.2 Eccentric Strength

Eccentric strength training can be a one-size fits all approach to improving deceleration skills. Whether it is a Jump Starter or Game Time athlete, eccentric training offers a simple and safe way to build total body strength, while teaching muscle control and improving joint health. While it is not the only strategy used by the Parisi system, eccentric strength is easy to insert into a program by simply controlling the tempo of an exercise. For example, Parisi coaches during our Jump Start classes use air squats as an anchor movement in the active dynamic warm up. Simply holding the last rep at the bottom for a 10 second count will assist in building strength for all speed related skills and reinforce a proper position of deceleration. This simple technique can be progressed into the Total Sports Performance classes when kettlebells and dumbbells are added. Set the tempo for the squats at 2:2:2. If we continue to use this example, an Elite class could use a standard barbell back squat and add a pulse at the bottom of each squat rep. Another simple method of deceleration strength training is the addition of isometric movements. The most common isometric strength exercise for Jump Starters would be a wall sit, squat hold or lunge hold. This can be progressed in the Total Sports Performance and Elite Sports Performance classes by adding a mini band around the legs during these exercises or having the athletes squeeze a ball between their thighs when folding a squat.

The three to five seconds for the eccentric phase of lowering of the weight is followed by one or two seconds of the concentric phase of lifting a weight. Most strength movements can be divided into two basic phases, the concentric, or shortening of the muscle; and eccentric, the lengthening of the muscle. This change in tempo creates more tension to the muscle(s) as it lengthens. It is during the lengthening that the muscle’s force-producing capacity is optimal. During a voluntary muscle contraction, like a bicep curl, there is an inverse relationship between the speed of the muscle contraction and the ability to exert tension. The force produced by the concentric phase, or the curling of the weight is less than the eccentric phase when the arm extends and the weight is lowered. It is for this reason that eccentric exercises are highly relevant in all Parisi classes so each athlete can build a foundation of force development.

As Parisi coaches you are required to be a Big-Picture-Thinker. Deceleration training should always be part of the broader view of an athlete’s development. Deceleration will always be a critical motor skill for an athlete. All phases of game speed require deceleration skills. Parisi athletes should consistently perform isolated eccentric exercises or variations of deceleration drills in both strength and speed classes. This combination will improve joint health. Additionally, Eccentric Strength also enhances muscle stabilization, which is when the muscle fibers remain the same length, ultimately enhancing force absorption, which lends itself to injury mitigation.