Play on One Leg – Train on One leg
When I saw the picture of the field hockey players on the left it made me immediately think about why we train the way we train. I am an advocate of single leg squats and unilateral & reciprocal training exercises of the lower extremity (for that matter the upper body also). When you consider the forces that player must attenuate on one leg in stopping and starting it makes sense to train unilaterally. Also consider the phenomenon of bilateral transfer in doing work with one limb. Bilateral transfer refers to the phenomenon of improvement in function of one limb by working on the opposite limb. This is based on the Contralateral function of the brain hemispheres in controlling movement through both cortical and sub cortical impulses that enable movement to be transferred from one side of the body to the other side. That does not mean that regular squats are not part of the routine, they are but when and where in the program is the key. Single leg squats, lunges and step-ups and step downs are the constants because essentially in most sports the movement is off of one leg and onto the other leg in multiple directions and multiple planes. The strength work must be closely coupled with Multi Dimensional Speed and Agility work to add the speed element to the high force element. This also has an implication for testing. We need to test strength on one leg, stability on one leg and the ability to reduce force on one leg. If an athlete is deficient then they must be given remedial work to remedy the deficiency and their actual training drills and exercises must be modified. If not the risk of injury rises significantly as well as ingraining incorrect movement patterns.