WOMEN'S ATHLETICS: History Of Knee Injuries #7.

The growth of women's athletics has seen the explosion in participation of women of all ages in previously male-dominated sports. Learn why so many women are having injuries and how to prevent them!
All Articles Are Republished With Permission From Intensitymagazine.com

" She who has begun has half done.
Dare to be wise; begin.

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As we progress through the SOAKS program, we can see that the process is an education and reeducation of the athlete with the goals of proper form in all movements that occur during the game or practice situations. All motions of running, acceleration/deceleration, direction changes, landing from jumps are "reprogrammed" so that the female athlete utilizes the support musculature of the knee versus the ligaments, assumes the correct Athletic Position of bent knee/low center of gravity/straight back, and runs "light-footed," i.e., on the balls of the feet versus heel strike first or flat footed.

In the initial stages of development, always stress form over speed, as the form that is practiced and ingrained on the CNS during the countless repetitions of practice will be the ones that are called upon for the reactions necessary in the actual game simulation drills and/or real games.

As noted in the Agility Drills section, as the development of the athlete progresses the drills will be merged with more sport-specific training. The SOAKS Program can be used for preseason/off season work to establish the correct movement patterns, attain high levels of conditioning, serve as General Physical Preparation (GPP), and also be used in transition periods with the emphasis on GPP and unloading from the stressful season (go out and have some fun with the drills). During the season, drills can be adapted for dynamic warm-up, sport-specific training, and conditioning by increasing the intensities with corresponding reductions in volume.

Agility Drills

All drills are done again with the parameters set in the previous section: (i) sub-maximal pace, increasing as proficiency progresses, (ii) correct running position, (iii) force production against the surface, (iv) movement on the balls of the feet, (v) low center of gravity, (vi) fast foot turnover, (vii) head positioning, (viii) proper use of arm/torso motion, (ix) peripheral vision and head movement, and (x) balance.

Agility Figure

Utilizing the above 10 parameters, the agility figure's progression is from simple to complex, i.e., double leg to single leg alternate to single leg. Turn hops progress from double leg 90 degrees to 180 degrees, single leg alternate 90 degrees to 180 degrees, finally single leg 90 degrees and 180 degrees. The 270 degree and 360 degree turn hops should not be started at any level, except double leg, until 90 degrees and 180 degrees are perfected as to landings, body control, etc., as above.

The turn hops should be practiced in both the clockwise (CW) and counterclockwise (CCW) turning directions as both are encountered in game or practice situation. All hops and turns begin and end in the same section, i.e., 1-2-3-4-1. All movements are facing forward so that when the athlete begins in 1 facing 2 or 4 facing 3, the athlete always faces in that direction.


Vertical jumps can be integrated into later training sessions in each section for the double leg and single leg alternate hops as these would be the most utilized for game or practice situations, whereas the single leg hop and jump would not be utilized as much in practical applications.

Agility figure drills using the jump rope can be incorporated into warm-up performed over tape "+" on the gym floor or other surface during the season. Each sport has its peculiar footwork patterns that are encountered frequently so the number sequence can be adapted for sports specific applications as training progresses.

The Agility Figure is used to develop static or smaller range footwork that will be utilized in game or practice situations for the following: initiating offensive or defensive movements against an opponent with the ball; body position and movement for initiation of vertical jumps; and positioning for offensive or defensive movements without the ball.

Examples would be the body positions and footwork for an offensive or defensive basketball rebound with or without vertical jump; multidirectional movement on front line of volleyball for initiation or defense of spike; movements by infielders on softballs hit with 1 to 2 yards of static position; and movement for initiation of or return of volley in tennis, etc.

Construct "+" out of four 2 ft sections of ?" or ?" PVC
joined at middle by "+" joint. Also can use tape to make
"+" on gym floor or grass with 2 ft sections.

Double Leg Hop (see grid above)

Double leg hop (DL) 1-2-3-4-1-start in section (1) and the athlete "hops" to section (2); (2) to (3): (3) to (4); and (4) to (1). Stress proper bent leg landings on the balls of feet, good motions of torso/arm, low center of gravity, balance, and good force production for initiation of movement.

The movements should be a quick horizontal shift rather than an up and down motion. When the vertical component is added later, we want the jump to be from a position of stability and power to utilize the ground forces versus a weak, off balance position that might result in injury.

Single Leg Alternate (see grid above)

Single leg alternate (SLA) 1-2-3-4-1 follow the same pattern as above except the athlete starts on both feet in section (1) and "hops" to section (2) lands on right foot; from (2) to (3) lands on left; from (3) to (4) lands on right; and (4) to (1) and lands on left. All the other SLA patterns follow the same alternate foot landings. Alternate initial landing each drill (in above, in section (2) land on left to (3) right to (4) left to (1) right.)

Single Leg Hop (see grid above)

In single leg (SL) hop, the athlete begins on two feet in section (1) and "hops" to (2) and lands on right foot and remains on the right foot for all landings in the remaining sections. Repeat for the left leg. Emphasis must be stressed on form over speed in going from the double leg and single leg alternate to the single leg because of the increase in proprioception, necessity for "sticking" landings, and increased stress on working leg, ankle, knee, and foot.

Proceed slowly, especially with heavier athletes, in all repetitive single leg actions utilizing landings on the same foot.

90 Degree Turn Hop (see grid above)

Same as forward hops except turn body as hop. CCW 90 degrees 1-2-3-4-1-athlete starts in section (1) and "hops and turns" in the air to section (2) ending facing section (3); "hop and turns" to section (3) facing section (4); "hops and turns" to section (4) facing section (1); and "hops and turns" to section (1) facing section (2).

Remember this is a quick horizontal movement not a rabbit jump up and down. For CW 90 degrees 1-2-3-4-1, the athlete would end in section (2) facing away from (3); in (3) facing (4); in (4) facing away from (1); and in section (1) facing (2).

The 180 degrees, 270 degrees and 360 degrees hop and turns would follow the same patterns as the above with the appropriate rotation of the body. The double leg hops will be the most utilized in game or practice situations, with the single leg alternate occasionally and the single leg rarely. So plan the training sessions accordingly.

Same parameters as all agility drills - body control, low center of gravity, and good landing position, bent knees, and fast feet. Start slow, increase speed as proficiency increases.

"Stick" landings-bent knees, no swaying, good Athletic Position. Only increase speed for the athletes, as landings are perfect-form over speed!!!

It is better to move to a position under control and be able to make the play rather than be fast and cannot stop, cut or land without injury! (Like the skater in The Mighty Ducks II who was faster than the wind but could never stop!)

Continuing Progress

As the program progresses, the coach and athletes will notice that the constant emphasis on correct form, Athletic Position and body movement awareness will result in more efficient and effective athletes, self correcting attitudes in the athletes toward inappropriate body positions, and better conditioned athletes with less likelihood toward injury due to poor mechanics.

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Charlie Newkerk