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WOMEN'S ATHLETICS: History Of Knee Injuries #6!

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

" There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain
of improving and that is your own self.
Aldous Huxley

Click HERE To Read Part One!
Click HERE To Read Part Two!
Click HERE To Read Part Three!
Click HERE To Read Part Four!
Click HERE To Read Part Five!
Click HERE To Read Part Seven!

Last article we covered the dynamic warmup, which prepared the body for the stresses of training and reinforced the correct motor patterns used in the running motion. Now we will further that reinforcement by form running and agility drills.

The form drills will be similar to the dynamic warmup except that the speed will be increased-but not at the expense of form. We want correct motor patterns for acceleration, deceleration, cutting and jumping so that the knee support tissues respond and fire in the safest and most efficient pattern for injury prevention.


Remember, the research shows that women athletes tend to use their quads in preference to their hamstrings, are more erect and straight legged on jumps, and rely on ligament support of the knee versus muscle support of the knee for men (refer to Article III for research). So we will stress bent knee landings on jumps and before cutting; lower center of gravity, i.e., not running on "stiff" legs, but more relaxed and able to change directions safer; and proper form for impressing the CNS.

"Practice doesn't make perfect,
it makes permanent!"

The agility drills will be utilized for footwork improvement, coordination, and again, reinforcing correct movement patterns. We want the athlete to respond in the most efficient movement pattern that presents the least risk of injury whenever a new situation or playing challenge presents itself. This can only be accomplished by drilling the correct patterns and reinforcing the proper movements-pay attention to the details and it will result in positive achievements on the field.

In times of extreme stress (i.e., shot on goal with time running out, block of game winning spike, drive and layup for winning basket), the CNS will remember the dominant movement pattern and utilize it for victory or a shot out of bounds, missed block, or missed layup.

Pete Maravich, the leading scorer in men's college basketball at over 40+ points per game for 3 years, tells of his father setting the basket within his reach as a baby and slowly raising the basket as he grew. He always made the shots because he was coached to succeed by implementing a progressive system of success.

Form Drills

All done at 50% to start and increasing speed as proficiency increases-never speed at the expense of form. All drills done for 10-20 yards total per drill.

  • High knee with hands on hips
  • High knee with arm movement (cheek to cheek, elbow bent at 90 degrees)
  • High knee with skip
  • High knee leg extended
  • Butt kickers
  • Backwards run-extend legs back as running forward in reverse
  • Carioca-left and right, regular and quick step
  • Leg turnovers-stand on one leg, motion other like pedaling bicycle simulating running motion, keeping knee high and "hot foot" position-90-degree angle at ankle for ground push off
  • Walking to stop, assume athletic position (AP, see Part Four)
  • Running to stop, AP
  • Running to cut left, AP
  • Running to cut right, AP
  • Jump to AP, initial jumps from cinder block or 1 foot box-can increase height only if proper knee bend, no swaying upon landing
  • Jump to AP, run
  • Jump to AP, cut
  • Run to ground jump
  • Run to jump to run
  • Run to jump to cut

Concentrate on form; Athletic Position with butt down, knees bent, back straight; knees bent on landing and starts of cuts with low center of gravity; "stick" the landings after jumps and before cuts-no leg sway, bobbing, etc.

Agility Drills

All drills with the agility ladder are done at a sub-maximal pace at first concentrating on a variety of concerns such as: (i) correct running position, (ii) force production against the surface, (iii) movement on balls of feet, (iv) low center of gravity, (vi) fast foot turnover, (vii) head positioning, (viii) proper use of arm/torso motion, (ix) perpherial vision and head movement and (x) balance. All drills done 2-5 times for approximately 10 yards and should be done backwards as well as forwards.

As the athlete's development progresses, certain elements of ladder work will be merged with sport-specific training. Speed will come in later sessions of training as the footwork, balance and coordination improve. The order employed in these drills are as follows:

  • One foot in rung
  • Two feet in rung
  • Lead foot in/out shuffle
  • Crossover foot in/out
  • Lateral shuffle (alternate sides)
  • Lateral Up and back
  • Shuffle
  • Shuffle torso turn
  • Double leg hop
  • Single leg hop, right
  • Single leg hop, left

Work with minimum of rest, emphasizing form and correct movement patterns. You can work half the drills one training day and the other half on alternate days.


Next week we will get into the form running and agility.

Click HERE To Read Part One!
Click HERE To Read Part Two!
Click HERE To Read Part Three!
Click HERE To Read Part Four!
Click HERE To Read Part Five!
Click HERE To Read Part Seven!

Charlie Newkerk