Regardless of the sport you play, strength and speed are “difference makers.” And, although linear sprint speed is important, most athletes will need to change direction while moving at high-speed.
This is another area where strength training becomes important to the athlete’s development.
According to a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, “Change-of-direction ability… would be best improved through increases in an athlete’s strength and power while maintaining lean muscle mass.” (Delaney, et. al.)
Since change-of-direction ability is heavily dependent on relative strength and power, the development of these attributes through the core, hips, and lower extremities has a positive effect on change-of-direction (COD) performance. Research shows a high correlation between 1-repetition maximum/body mass and COD in exercises like squats and deadlifts.
In addition to the squat and deadlift exercises, the leg press and split squat are also beneficial to the development of hip and leg drive.
Single-leg exercises, like the single-leg squat, step-up, and Bulgarian split squat, add an element of balance and stability to your lower-extremity strength development.
Plyometric exercises, like box jumps and depth jumps, can help you build explosive power, improving the amount of force you are able to generate against the ground.
Since long-term (>2 years) strength training improves COD performance, it is recommended as early as childhood and adolescence. Consult with a knowledgeable, experienced strength and conditioning professional for guidance regarding an age-appropriate, well-designed, and well-supervised program.