The lateral shuffle pattern has been a staple for basketball players and lineman for decades now. Although it’s generally only executed momentarily in most sporting environments, it’s still essential that ANY athlete perfect this exercise to the best of their ability to ensure no deficiency and increase their odds of athletic success. With the high prevalence of excessive lordosis or Anterior Pelvic Tilt (APT) still present in athletes everywhere this drill serves as a natural prehab/rehab technique for anyone, and in my decade’s worth of experience training hundreds of athletes of all sport types, I still feel that all of the involved musculature and just general functioning in the frontal plane of motion is lacking, and this lends into how well someone performs with other movements in other directions as well.

In this article I’m going to break down this exercise into its key components and provide you with some strong scientific evidence for why you should practice each technique, and then leave you with a proper demonstration of how to perform the exercise at the end. We can dissect the lateral shuffle into 6 elements.

#1-Athletic Stance

#2-Proper Hip Height

#3-Arm Drive

#4-Lead leg mechanics

#5-Trail leg mechanics

#6-Stride Length



I believe sound cueing of the athletic stance can best be taught when the coach takes an observational view from the side of the athlete. Signaling the athlete to “stack the joints” seems to work every time in my experience. Starting from the neck and working our way down, the cervical spine should be in a neutral alignment. Next, the trunk should aligned at a 45 degree angle with the rest of the spinal column in neutral. The hips are pushed back (hinged), the shins are vertical and the heels are resting down on the ground. When all of this completed, you should be able to draw a straight line from the athlete’s shoulders down through their knee caps and toes. Arm positioning is still controversial, but I prefer to have athletes position their upper limbs with their hands on the front of their thighs. I’ve observed a potentially stronger countermovement out of the start stance since the arm musculature is placed under a bit more of a stretch in this position. Here is exactly what your stance should look like….

masteringthelateralshuffle1 MASTERING THE LATERAL SHUFFLE


            Creating and sustaining solid hip height is one of the most common errors that I’ve witnessed with the shuffle movement. Too often athletes want to raise their hips and extend their knees when they attempt to move, and I suppose this is a natural compensation due to Anterior pelvic tilt and quad dominance which occurs for a variety of reasons. Cue athletes to get in the joint stacked position and “level the hips” while shuffling.



I found a study as it relates to the contribution arm drive provides in both the vertical jump and sprint pattern which are both obviously linear based movements, but I think the same validity could be granted to the lateral shuffle as well. A researcher by the name of Hinrichs found that arm drive in a sprint contributes too over 10% of vertical force production which is signficant for the development of several other effective sprinting techniques (lift, hip height, stride length, etc.). Comparable numbers where reported for the vertical jump also. The arms feed our legs and vice versa. When considering lateral human motion the arms won’t directly feed energy in the intended direction as much as they do with sprinting and jumping, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t increasing structural production elsewhere. Enter “The Posterior Oblique Sub-System.”

masteringthelateralshuffle2 MASTERING THE LATERAL SHUFFLE

This independent system of our anatomy helps increase the speed of any athletic based movement including the shuffle. When we drive our arms correctly (up and back), this feeds the opposite side glutes to fire more into the ground. Don’t worry, I will include a video of what proper arm drive should look like at the end. When this happens we will accelerate faster and generate even more of a reflex from our muscles creating a strong chain reaction.


masteringthelateralshuffle3 MASTERING THE LATERAL SHUFFLE

** Notice that my right foot is turned out towards the right where I’m going to initiate movement. You will always be more stable, stronger, and quicker with this type of foot positioning!



I first heard this subtle and very influential technique from renowned speed coach Lee Taft years ago and he was absolutely right. Lee mentioned that when we externally rotate the inside leg in the intended direction approximately 45 degrees, we create a naturally stronger line of pull in the glutes and hamstrings, while increasing our base of support in the process. He called this technique a “Directional Step.”

Notice that my right foot is turned out towards the right where I’m going to initiate movement. You will always be more stable, stronger, and quicker with this type of foot positioning!


This function comes naturally to many athletes when you watch it, but not for some so please pay attention. Quite simply, when the foot is forward we will recruit the groin/adductor muscle group more. Unfortunately, these muscles are not as naturally big and strong as the glutes and hamstrings. I also think keeping the foot forward versus turned out may feed overstriding, since the body would have to overcompensate somehow for the disadvantage in foot position and move longer to get the same level of strength it would achieve with the foot turned out.



Trail leg mechanics are also very important when it comes to applying a faster shuffle movement. Hip Abduction is naturally lacking in most athletes and individuals if you want to manually muscle test, so it becomes imperative to ensure that this sub-movement is present in the overall pattern. Generating a massive push-off and fully extending both the knee and especially the outer or lateral aspect of the hip is key. I think this movement component is best taught specifically via standard lateral band walks. See below.


Stride length has rapidly become another critical feature to a more efficient and fluid shuffle pattern. Too often athletes will bring their feet to close together after their push-off into the ground with the trail leg has been completed. Not only does this take more time, but it decreases control and stability and predisposes the athlete to ankle inversion which is the most common cause of ankle sprain. I know there are several other issues associated with sprains (injury history, proximal glute weakness, overall foot positioning, and more), but this error in form definitely doesn’t help matters. Once you perfect the directional step which was discussed earlier, the other thing you can do is make sure that the athlete doesn’t let their feet come closer than shoulder width after their return from push-off.





#1-Hinrichs, R. Cavanaugh, P, and Williams, K. Upper Extremity Function in Running. Journal of Biomechanics 3: 222-241, 1987.



Coach Travis Hansen is Director of the Reno Speed School and author of the speed development book ‘The Speed Encyclopedia‘.

speedencyclopediabook 192x300 MASTERING THE LATERAL SHUFFLE

**If you’re a speed training nerd like us, you should definitely check out this resource – The Speed Encyclopedia.


5 Reasons Hill Acceleration Training Is Important

By Lee Taft

Throughout the course of coaching athletes to be faster all coaches use the fancy drills, fancy equipment, and fancy programming. The bottom line is we need to improve a few things:

  1. Technique– we need athletes to be as efficient as possible in order to eliminate wasted actions and to tap into proper action reaction forces.
  2. We need athletes to have great horse-power. If we can train their strength so the amount of force they apply into the ground is greater they will get faster.
  3. Finally, we need to make sure they recover so they have the ability to perform top quality reps to the potential of their energy system max.

E19A8292 1024x679 5 Reasons Hill Acceleration Training Is Important

One of the areas I feel coaches over-due early on when training speed is they introduce too long of a distance for the current level of physical preparedness. For example. Having athletes sprint 60-100 meters early on will lead to poor technique, over shooting their current aerobic capacity in order to recover between bouts, and increasing injury potential due to the tissues not being properly prepared and exposed progressively to stress.

My solution is to introduce acceleration work early on so the athlete can get the force production work on they need without over stressing the mechanical aspect of sprinting too soon. One of my favorite acceleration training methods is to use hills. A slight to moderate grade hill will allow the athlete naturally increase force production due to gravity, and a host of other valuable reasons. Listed below are my 5 Reasons to use Hill Accelerations.

  1. Hill accelerations, from a mechanical aspect, force a couple great things to occur that can train the athlete very well to come out of blocks or accelerate quickly in field and court sports. The athlete automatically must drive the knee out (it actually forces greater hip flexion due to the horizontal lean) in order to clear the foot from hitting the toe into the ground. This natural aggressive hip flexion/knee drive increases the power of the force into the ground off the push off leg. More force is put into the ground due to the action reaction forces caused by the aggressive knee drive. Because gravity is constantly working on the athlete the force being put into the ground must consistently be aggressive to keep the center of mass moving (it isn’t like flat ground running where once acceleration is over sprinting begins).
  1. Hill accelerations limit the deceleration that must occur after each run. The athlete almost stops immediately when they stop producing force. In flat ground acceleration the athlete must actively work to “put the brakes on”. The fact the athlete doesn’t have to decelerate after each rep saves the legs and keeps the focus purely on acceleration.
  1. Arm action almost automatically becomes more involved and cleaner when accelerating up hill. The fact the athlete must constantly work hard to produce force in order to keep the mass moving the arms get tons of repetitions. The driving forces produced by the arm are seen through the longer leg actions which produces more force (see #1). If the arms are short in the swing phase the leg action becomes shorter to coordinate the action with the arms. When flat land training the acceleration phase is very short for beginner due to the fact they get out of acceleration so quickly. When training acceleration on hills they can work on the acceleration phase the entire repetition, therefore getting more arm action repetitions.
  1. Because hill work is very taxing on the nervous system programming is very simple. Once you see the athlete begin to reach the prescribed distance must slower than in previous reps you know he or she is getting fatigued. Once the fatigue factor shows up the reps will become much less effective so it is time to end the hill acceleration session. A great way to get as much bang for your buck out of programming is to perform less reps per set and add more sets. For example; rather than performing 2 sets of 6 reps where you would have less rest between the reps than the sets you would perform 4 sets of 3 reps. This allows for great effort and execution of the 3 reps followed by a nice recovery where ATP can be replenished more-so than in the 2 sets of 6 rep scheme.
  1. Hill acceleration training is a form of resisted training. The other forms such as sled, tubing, parachutes, or manual all have benefit yet they disturb the one factor that I personally feel is vital; they interrupt the natural kinesthetic nature of pure running. A band or harness tethered to your body is not as consistent with natural running. A harness attached around the shoulders might cause greater transverse rotation to the shoulders. A tubing around the belt line might cause more flexion than what is consistent with acceleration, a parachute might cause random shifts in the frontal plane due to wind pushing the chute off course. All of these disturbances can have benefits if you know what you are looking for, but when you want to improve the 3 things I mentioned above (technique, horse power, recover) the un-tethered approach might be best most of the time. Don’t get me wrong. I use resisted training frequently- but I always know why and what the results will be.

So there you go. Hill acceleration training is a fantastic way to develop explosive power for short bursts of speed.

Oh yeah! Don’t go crazy on the really steep hills. When technique has to adjust too much to account for the steepness of the hill you might have gone too far. Keep it so the athlete can accelerate with great technique.

Yours in Speed!
Coach Lee Taft

Summer Speed Camp

Looking to get faster this summer?

Well, I’ve got exciting news to share with you!

We’ve opened our Complete Speed Camp summer program today for high school and college athletes!

More information here >>  Complete Speed Camp

The Complete Speed Camp will cover:

– Acceleration
– Max Velocity
– Speed Endurance
– Running Mechanics
– Lateral Speed & Agility
– Flexibility & Mobility
– Conditioning
– Strength Training
– Power Development

With my help, as your personal coach, we will begin making this summer your best ever. FASTER. STRONGER. BETTER.

The Complete Speed Camp is a 4-week, small group training program, where you will get individual attention so we can focus on getting you faster and stronger. By small group, I mean only 9 athletes per group (and only 3 groups). It will be 2 coaches per 9 athletes (I will be a coach along with one of the top sprinters to ever come out of the New England area – whose also an amazing speed coach). 

This is your ONLY chance to get personalized coaching from me, and the only training groups I am running this summer!

Looking forward to seeing you and if you have any questions, please let me know.

Talk soon,

Pat Beith
Athletes Acceleration


P.S. If you are in Massachusetts or close by and want to train with me this summer, go now and register, as it is a first-come-first-serve basis. I really want to focus on individual attention so I cannot let in more than 9 athletes per group. The summer speed camp will take place at M-Plex in Mansfield, MA (close to North Attleboro)

Go check it out here ->




By Travis Hansen

I think if you were to ask how many coaches and trainers throughout the country find it beneficial to integrate “Top Speed” work into their training on a regular basis with all of their athletes, the answer would be very few. I can see why most would neglect this approach since it’s not always specific, but I think there are several reasons for why it would help complement a total athletic training program, and develop other common qualities as well. Below I’m going to discuss a few reasons why I think you should implement this type of training with all of your athletes regardless of their sport.


#1: Top Speed –> Acceleration –>   First Step Continuum


            Jimson Lee over at shared a 100 meter split analysis a few years back that really made me realize just how important it was to have great top speed even if your sport is primarily reliant on maximal power and acceleration capacity across short distances (10-20 yards). Here is the table below.


What you will notice in this chart is that each of these elite sprinters 10, 20, and 40 meter splits are insanely fast when you consider all of the variables. For example, Bolt who we all know is not the strongest starter, still yields a 2.87 second 20 meter split! If he were timed utilizing a combine approach (half electronic) and measured in yards it would be even more impressive. What’s important to understand here is that having great top speed requires that you be able to create an explosive first step and accelerate rapidly, and it builds each of these skills as a natural by-product of this style of training. I like to call it the “Top Down Relationship.” If you analyze the 10 and 20 yard splits from any of the elite combine performers who recorded a blazing 40 yard dash, you will immediately realize all three work together to elicit a better overall split. Anecdotally, I’ve also noticed my fastest athletes over the years generally dominated every phase of a sprint or speed based activity, not just one. Furthermore, a study in 2012 by Triplett showed that most sports do involve running at maximum speed and it could help improve athletic performance. 1 Now I know many are going to automatically attempt to rebuttal the study I shared and the whole notion of top speed training by saying that the ratio of plays performed at top speed is minimal, and that mainly the need to increase speed quickly through better acceleration is much more critical than how fast the athlete is capable of running. I wouldn’t argue this by any means, but I think there is more too be appreciated with top speed training for athletes.

First, lets look at Westside Barbell’s training template. It consists of max effort heavy work and dynamic effort speed based work. I view linear speed and sprint work in much the same light. The start and short distance stuff helps build and express single leg strength and power, while longer distance sprinting at or near top speed helps really build speed and power. Some of the adaptations derived from each working distance will be different as well. At the start, there is very little momentum and longer ground contact times. An ideal scenario to apply as much strength as possible. As an athlete picks up speed we move to the other end of the spectrum and now momentum is high and ground contact times are very short. I displayed a chart in my book that showed the average ground contact range of a sprint at .08-.12 tenths of a second depending on the speed of an athlete. Not very much time to apply force to say the least, thus the need to possess very high levels of speed and power to prevent any deceleration and loss in speed. Moreover, don’t you think if an athlete possesses great muscle recruitment velocities at top speed with very little time to produce force into the ground, doing so at the start with much more time to apply force will be relatively easier and they will be faster there?

The next reason why I think top speed work is so valuable for athletes is due to the fact that it is very hip dominant in nature. Check out the picture below and you will see what I mean….


Look at how far behind the hips the balance foot is at push-off. Pure hip dominance and hyperextension!

What do vertical jumping, broad jumping, planting, cutting, braking, balancing, a hip turn, crossover step, swinging, throwing etc. all share in common? The need for powerful and strong hips, and top speed work serves a great specific source of training for improving this ability. Charlie Weingroff and Bret Contreras also had some good research on just how active the glutes and hips are during sprinting. “Finally, hip strength appears to be more important than knee or ankle strength as far as sprinting is concerned, and the hip extensors are likely the most important muscles for forward propulsion (2,10,14,25,29,36,46).” 2

Last but not least, top speed training creates a strong metabolic disturbance inside our body and really helps develop the alactic energy system pathway, so that we are in better sport specific shape, and so that we can improve our speed endurance and nearly sustain our peak speed performances over several repetitions.

So how do we improve our top speed exactly? Like other skills, I don’t think there is a single best technique you can perform, and it’s going to be based on the structural strengths and weaknesses of any given individual. However, in my experience there definitely does seem to be re-occuring techniques that help get the job done well. Here is a list of drills that I recommend along with a video of one of my favorite drills: “The Modified Reverse Hyper.” I took this one from my friend/mentor Kelly Baggett. Kelly is absolutely brilliant and used a heavy dumbbell originally, but we’ve found that plates work better as a means of adding overload throughout a training cycle.









I just want to add a bit more before I leave you on the reverse hyper and the other drills as well. First, I hope all of the ladies noticed my killer hair wings as I was providing Scott a spot. Second, you will notice that the reverse hyper literally replicates the same range of motion and joint action angle as top speed sprinting. As a result, this specific strength exercise will have vast carryover as soon as an athlete starts to become more upright after the start and initial acceleration phase during a sprint.

On a final note, the heavy single leg work and low frequency plyometrics do an absolutely fantastic job at making sure that an athlete can counter high impacts that occur during the landing phase of a sprint. I’ve noticed that often times athletes will lose overall leg stiffness and collapse as they try and increase their speed. A number of things occur when this happens that causes deceleration or the loss of speed. Dominate these drills and you will immediately notice better economy and a “gliding” action as athletes quickly bounce off the running surface quickly into their next stride.



#1-Triplett, T. Power Associations with running speed. Strength and Conditioning Journal 34: 29-33, 2012.



Coach Travis Hansen is Director of the Reno Speed School and author of the speed development book ‘The Speed Encyclopedia‘.


**If you’re a speed training nerd like us, you should definitely check out this resource – The Speed Encyclopedia.


Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility

By Dr. Evan Osar


If you coach speed or agility you will undoubtedly encounter athletes that demonstrate frontal plane instability when running or performing agility drills. Frontal plane instability, more accurately this can be described as a loss of control in the frontal plane, can be a common yet overlooked cause of decreased speed and agility in your athletes. In this article, we will look at how loss of frontal plane control impedes many athletes from achieving optimal performance and how this relates to loss of speed and agility in your athletes. We will introduce an exercise progression specifically designed to improve frontal plane control so you can help your athletes maximize development of speed and agility while also reducing their risk of injury.

Control of Frontal Plane Motion

Frontal plane control (stability) is crucial to optimal force production and reduction in athletes. Optimal control in the frontal plane enables an athlete to plant their foot into the ground, decelerate their momentum, reduce ground reaction forces and generate force required to either propel their body forward, to change direction, or strike a ball.


Image 1 126x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and AgilityImage 3 300x201 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility Image 2 199x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility Image 4 268x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility
Images 1-4: Examples of the need for frontal plane control – standing on one leg, changing direction, supporting on one leg to kick a ball, shifting body weight to strike a tennis ball


As mentioned in the introduction, a very common and often overlooked component of developing speed and agility is the loss of frontal plane control. When your athlete has lost front plane control you will notice either a pelvic drop or lateral shift (image 5) or the individual will side bend their trunk over their stance leg if they have compensated (image 6) when he/she stands on one leg. Loss of frontal plane control can alter force production in the hip complex resulting in slower speeds and/or reaction times, result in stress of the knee or in the ankle-foot complex, and can also manifest as chronic low back tightness and pelvic/sacroiliac dysfunction.


Image 5 178x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and AgilityImage 6 121x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility
Non-optimal frontal plane control while standing on one leg; loss of pelvic control (left) and compensatory side bend for loss of control (right)


Often you will note a loss of speed and/or agility when the athlete is performing their drills because they have to compensate and overuse other muscle(s) and/or strategies to balance and produce/reduce force. Improving frontal plane control then becomes a priority for these athletes so they can both maximize performance and diminish the risk of injury.

Since it garners so much attention in both the rehabilitation and speed conditioning settings it is important to identify the role of the gluteus medius in providing frontal plane stability before addressing the specific exercises to improve control. As you are aware, the gluteus medius attaches to the lateral aspect of the pelvis and inserts onto the greater trochanter of the femur and is important in providing frontal plane pelvic and hip stability.

There is no lack of exercises addressing the gluteus medius – the muscle most blamed for the lack of frontal plane control. Clam shells, lying hip abduction, and lateral band walks are just three of the over dozen gluteus medius specific exercises athletes perform when rehabbing a current injury or as part of their dynamic warm up. While targeting the gluteus medius with these exercises works for some individuals, there are still many athletes that will not demonstrate improved frontal plane control using these types of exercises.

One of the biggest reasons these exercises fail to change control when standing one leg is that they don’t adequately address how the trunk and spine relate to hip and pelvic stability. The gluteus medius is part of the lateral kinetic chain and to improve its’ function, you must address the entire lateral chain including the trunk and spine.

Image 7 142x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and AgilityThe lateral chain, comprised of the ipsilateral (same side) oblique abdominals, quadratus lumborum, latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, intercostals, lateral fibers of the gluteal complex, and vastus lateralis, connect the ipsilateral shoulder and hip complexes with the trunk and spine (image to left). While active in all movements, the lateral chain is most responsible for controlling frontal plane motion.


The Modified Side Lying Bridge for Frontal Plane Control

The modified side lying bridge – a modification of a DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization) pattern – is one of the most effective corrective exercise patterns we have found for developing frontal plane control in our athletes. What makes this pattern so effective is that it develops stability through the core while connecting both the ipsilateral shoulder and hip complexes to the trunk and pelvis.

The pattern is broken down into 3 phases and each level is designed to improve the components necessary to reach the next level. It is common for athletes to be progressed too quickly through the pattern without developing the prerequisite stability in the shoulder, trunk, and/or hip regions. Stability or control in these regions is necessary prior to progressing to the more advanced patterns which I will introduce in part II since these more advanced exercises will cause the athlete to break down and/or develop additional compensatory patterns if they can have not developed prior stability.


Level 1

The athlete lies on his side with the ipsilateral shoulder and hip flexed to 90 degrees and 75 degrees respectively. His shoulder and hips are stacked and his spine is in neutral alignment. He contracts isometrically to push his left elbow and knee into the floor. This contraction activates the latissimus dorsi and serratus anterior of his support shoulder (the one he is lying on) and the gluteal complex of his support hip (the one he is lying on). It also helps connect the shoulder and hip with the trunk and spine. He holds this contraction for 5 seconds and repeats for 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions. Throughout each of the progressions, the athlete’s core should be activated and their spine should remain neutral.


Image 8 1024x341 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and AgilityLevel 1 (isometric shoulder-trunk, hip-knee support)


The athlete then assumes the position and activation from above however in this version he is supported upon his forearm and hip-knee. Similarly he pushes his knee down into the floor and maintains a neutral alignment of his trunk and spine while holding this position for 5 seconds and then relaxes for 10 seconds. He repeats the pattern for 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions of 5-second holds.

Image 9 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and AgilityLevel 2 (isometric forearm and hip-knee support)


Level 3

The client assumes the position and activation from level 2. He then lifts himself up so that he is supported on both his elbow and knee. He holds for 3 seconds and slowly returns to the starting position. He repeats for 2-3 sets 5-10 repetitions.


Image 10 1024x616 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and AgilityLevel 3


Regardless of the level your client has achieved, this pattern is a great way to activate the lateral chain prior to walking, running, or performing agility drills. In other words, even the level 1 pattern can be effective at activating the lateral chain for those athletes that don’t have the shoulder, trunk, or hip stability required for the higher patterns.

Many of your athletes require improved frontal plane stability. As we have discussed, the gluteus medius is an important part of the lateral chain responsible for frontal plane control. By helping your athletes improve activation of the gluteus medius as part of the lateral chain and integrate this function with the trunk and pelvis they will begin to demonstrate improved control when you get them into the upright position. In part II of this series, we will introduce a more advanced version of this pattern and demonstrate a progression to incorporate the lateral chain into the upright position.



Earlier in this article we discussed how many athletes lose speed and/or agility from the lack of optimal frontal plane control (stability). We discussed that while the gluteus medius is an important muscle of frontal plane control, it is part of the lateral chain which is responsible for control especially in single leg support and when shifting the body through the frontal plane. Loss of frontal plane control manifests not only as decreases in speed and/or agility but can also present as a common cause of overuse injuries of the low back, hip, knee, and/or ankle-foot complex.

We introduced the side lying isometric pattern to improve activation of the gluteus medius and incorporate its’ function into the lateral chain. In this article I will show you an advanced progression of that exercise and demonstrate how to transition your athlete into the upright position so that they can develop improved integration of the lateral chain.


Advanced Modified Side Lying Bridge Pattern

In the advanced progression, the client assumes the position and activation from the previous patterns. He lifts himself so that he is supported completely upon his forearm and knee. He holds this position for 2 seconds while reaching out with his free arm and then returns to the starting position. He repeats this exercise for 2-3 sets of 5-10 repetitions. In this pattern, the athlete is supported on his knee rather than on his ankle and foot since this enables activation of the hip complex rather than bypassing this region which occurs in the traditional side bridge patterns.

Image 11 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility Image 21 1024x622 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and AgilityModified Side Lying Bridge Pattern – Advanced


Now that the athlete has developed improved control it is important to incorporate this function into the upright position. While there are a number of patterns that can be used, we generally use the split squat position as it helps the athlete identify and feel where they should have control. The focus is primarily on the front leg mechanics during the pattern.

The athlete begins in the split stance position where approximately 70-80% of their weight is on their forward leg and 20-30% is on the rear leg.

  1. The individual first aligns their TPC (thoracopelvic canister) so that their trunk is positioned over the pelvis and the spine and pelvis are neutral. The pelvis is neutral when it is in a slight anterior pelvic tilt.
  2. Next they position the foot of the front leg so that it is in the tripod position where there is the most contact under digit #1 (big toe), digit #5 (small toe), and the calcaneus (heel).
  3. Finally they ensure that their hip, knee and ankle-foot complex are aligned. From the front you should be able to draw a relatively straight line through the hip, knee, and first two digits of the foot when the athlete is in ideal alignment.


See images below for examples of optimal and non-optimal alignment in the split stance position.


Image 41 199x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility Image 51 199x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility Image 31 210x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility
Optimal alignment in the split stance position – neutral pelvis (slight anterior pelvic tilt when viewed from the side and level when viewed from the front and back), hip-knee-ankle-foot tripod aligned (left); optimal alignment of the lower extremity however non-optimal alignment of the pelvis – it is laterally tilted in the frontal plane and the trunk and spine are not aligned (middle); optimal alignment of the pelvis however non-optimal alignment of lower extremity – knee is excessively abducted (right)

Image 61 199x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility Image 7 116x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility Image 81 179x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility Image 91 133x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility
Split squat


Once the athlete has achieved optimal alignment, they perform the split squat where the focus remains on the mechanics of the forward leg in frontal plane control. The athlete focus on eccentric control as they lower their body and then lifting their body up and over their front foot during the concentric phase. It is important to pay close attention to ensure that the athlete’s pelvis remains level and in an anterior pelvic tilt and their spine remains straight through the pattern as loss of frontal plane control can manifest even in these relatively low level patterns. This pattern can be challenged by loading it with weight and/or by elevating the rear leg.


Image 101 197x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and Agility Image 111 126x300 Frontal Plane Exercise for Improving Speed and AgilityOnce the athlete can perform 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps progress them on to patterns that will begin to really challenge their frontal plane control such as the lunge, reverse lunge, and lateral lunge. These patterns teach the athlete how to control frontal plane mechanics as they move through varying functional movement patterns and planes of motion.

Ultimately you will want your athlete to develop control while in single leg stance. Begin to incorporate single leg squats and step up to single leg (images 10 and11) to train this control once your athlete has developed optimal control with the previous patterns. Again be sure to pay attention for the loss of frontal plane control and common compensations such as the pelvis not being level, side bending of the trunk, or loss of lower extremity alignment. Do not allow an athlete to perform any exercise pattern where they can not maintain the optimal alignment and mechanics discussed previously or they will simply be strengthening a non-optimal strategy that will cause them to develop or perpetuate frontal plane control issues.

You will also want to include sport-specific patterns once they have developed the requisite frontal plane control through the aforementioned patterns.



In this article we identified the loss of frontal plane control as a common cause of the loss of speed and agility and a contributor to injuries of the low back, pelvis, and lower extremity in our athletes. While at times it can be beneficial to isolate the gluteus medius, it is far more efficient to condition this muscle as part of the lateral chain. In part I we introduced the modified side lying bridge as an important pattern for developing coordination between the gluteus medius and the other muscles of the lateral chain. In part II, we progressed this pattern and then incorporated the lateral chain into the upright position via the split squat. The split squat pattern is a great pattern to incorporate the control the athlete requires – alignment of the lower extremity and activation of the lateral chain – once they get into single leg stance. When your athlete achieves control in the split squat and lunge patterns, progress them through the appropriate sport-specific patterns they need to develop speed and agility. When the athlete has develop frontal plane control, they will often demonstrate faster speed, greater agility, and reduced incidence of injury.


Kolar, P. (2009). Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization: A Developmental Kinesiology Approach. Chicago, IL: Course handouts.

Kobesova, A. and Jezkova, M. Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization According to Kolar. Course B. St. Louis, MO: Course handouts.

Lee, LJ. and Lee, D. (2013). Treating the Whole Person with The Integrated Systems Model. Vancouver, CA: Discovery Physio Course handouts.

Osar, E. (2012). Corrective Exercise Solutions to Common Movement Dysfunction of the Hip and Shoulder. Chinchester, UK: Lotus Publishing.

Osar, E. (2015). Integrative Movement Specialist Certification. Chicago, IL: Course handouts.


About the Author

Audiences around the world have seen Dr. Evan Osar’s dynamic and original presentations.  His passion for improving human movement and helping health and fitness professionals think bigger about their roles can be seen and felt in every course he teaches.  His 20-year background in fitness and experience as a chiropractic physician and manual therapist provide an unique perspective on corrective exercise and fundamental training principles for the fitness professional. Dr. Osar has become known for taking challenging information and putting it into useable information the fitness professional can apply immediately with their athletes. He is the creator of over a dozen resources including the highly acclaimed Corrective Exercise Solutions to Common Hip and Shoulder Dysfunction. He is the developer of the Integrative Movement System™ – a principle-based system for assessing and correcting movement dysfunction. For more information please visit