The most demanding part of suicides is the sudden stops are tremendously taxing on the body. As we are sprinting we are pushing the ground away with a strong concentric contraction. To stop, we need to plant that foot and eccentrically accept all the force. This eccentric phase can be seen in the descent of a squat (or the lunge) until we move into a stabilized holding position at the bottom of the squat (isometric hold). To illustrate the muscular demands of eccentric loading, one day sprint/run 300 meters for time. Then on the next day, run 300 meters via a series of 50 meter shuttle runs. Notice how sore you are after this type of training.
These types of changes of directions are part of the demands of the sport and although we might see it dangerous, it is part of the game. After considering if I should I eliminate suicides from my practices, I posed the questions to a number of Strength and Conditioning Coaches. To my surprise these experts (including big time coaches like Mike Boyle and Charlie Weingroff) felt that it was a valid conditioning drill and they offered some great insight
- The demands of the game require these types of cuts, so we need to expose them to it.
- We should teach the athletic skills of stop and starting through a series of progressions
- Volume is key, particularly early in the season. Jumper’s knee and shin splints are potential issues if too much is expected from our athletes
- Although a great conditioner, the athlete knows when they need to come to a stop so they can better prepare for that change of direction. This however is not functional as basketball requires random sharp changes of direction.
I started writing this article series assuming that I was going to invalidate this drill, but after the insight of these coaches and thinking about proper application of agility drills such as this, I still see it as a valid exercise. I would now look to limit the volume early in the season and take the time to teach the athletic skills it requires. Look for a Part III in a couple of days I will outline some direction on how to use suicides safely within your practices.