Home Blog How to Improve Quickness: Understanding Shin Angles

How to Improve Quickness: Understanding Shin Angles

Written on June 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm, by Eric Cressey

Brijesh Patel is has been a friend and colleague of mine since back in 2003, when we were both graduate students at the University of Connecticut.  I credit Brijesh as one reason that I opted to go into strength and conditioning; his knowledge, passion, and patience as coach were impressive and had a profound influence on me.  Brijesh has gone on to do great things since we both left UCONN, and he’s now the head strength and conditioning coach at Quinnipiac University.  

Recently, “B” released a great product, College Basketball Body, and it’s right in line with the guest video post we’re fortunate to have from him.  Check it out:

Click here to learn more about College Basketball Body.

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28 Responses to “How to Improve Quickness: Understanding Shin Angles”

  1. Sol Orwell Says:

    Awesome information. I remember ESPN did a bit about a year ago on how Wade does heel-strike and Lebron does forefoot strike – parlays into the same negative/positive shin angle thought.

  2. Dwayne Says:

    Eric, have you thoughts on Brijesh’s baseball Strength and Conditioning manual. Thanks.

  3. Eric Cressey Says:


    I haven’t seen it, but Brijesh does a great job, and I’d safely assume that it’s a good one.

  4. R. Smith Says:

    Smart guy. I have seen some of his stuff in the past. Good takeaways.


  5. Matt Says:

    I like the info on the +/- shin angle, it is on point!

    However, with his lateral explanation, it made me think of valgus/navicular collapse when he talks about keeping the weight inside the feet. Perhaps, it was in the demonstration that threw me off.

    I find I have to que up my athletes to prevent that collapse, and keep an “active foot”

  6. Conor Says:

    Great info in this video! I’d be very interested to see his product.

  7. Anthony Tomeo Says:

    I had the opportunity to intern under Brijesh! I was. Wry fortunate to have that opportunity and its simpleyeteffextive effective coaching like this clip that has drawn me to this field! Whenever I have a question or need relearn more he is first on my list to call! Nice jOb B!

  8. Michael Says:

    Any concerns with valgus knee stress when coaching athletes to load the medial foot?
    Especially women

  9. Jared Says:

    Good stuff, simple but incredibly important if you want to maximize an athlete’s potential and, like Brijesh said, keep the athlete’s ankles healthy!

  10. Daniel Says:

    Thanks for sharing Eric. Solid stuff!

  11. James Bullock Says:

    That is some great info for sure.

  12. Tony Says:

    I like the info! It seems to follow that special care regarding valgus movement of knee is required here? I believe that part of the impetus toward turning feet outward may have its roots in avoiding injury to ACL via inward twist of knee joint, though I could be mistaken.

  13. Tony Says:

    Sorry, but anytime you teach internal rotation of the hip, you are asking for knee injuries. Training to push off on the inside of the foot may give more power and a positive shin angle, but it may also put more pressure on the joint structure.

  14. Brijesh Patel Says:

    Thanks for the kind words.
    For those of you who are concerned with any potential stress towards the knee – I have been doing this for over 10 years teaching the same principles with 0 knee injuries due to technical work.

    Watch athletes move…they push off the inside edge of their foot and their knee is slightly inside the big toe.

    Mechanics for strength development and performance are going to slightly differ. Try to move laterally with your weight on the outside part of your foot…you can’t do it. It’s physics and a means of improving an athlete’s awareness to improve their movement efficiency, which is what we are after.
    You could also argue that slightly internally rotating one’s femur could improve the ability of the glutes to load prior to acceleration…remember that you aren’t loading the valgus position as if someone’s knees collapse during a squat.

    Obviously if you have someone with a history of MCL laxity or other knee issues, they may be contraindicated, but like many things, the answer is usually somewhere in the middle.

    Try it out first on yourself and athletes and you will move much more efficient, have better balance when moving, stopping, decelerating.


  15. Preston Collins, DPT Says:

    Good information in the video.

    However, I agree with some of the comments above that even though you may generate increased force for lateral quickness, you are dramatically increasing your risk for Knee valgus and the dreaded Add/IR positioning.

    For me, this becomes more of a risk/reward question. Will my athlete have more force generation by following this cueing for pressure on the medial foot during lateral drills? Possibly. But, is it going to make such a dramatic difference for 95% of the individuals I see that it is worth the risk of an ACL tear? No, not for me.

    Good info nonetheless, and I am sure it has its place in some form of a training program. Thanks

  16. Terry Crews Workout Says:

    The video is really great and very informative post. Brijesh have a good Job looking forward for your next post.

  17. Cormac Says:

    Tony, surely that is a bit of an oversimplification. We have the ability to internally rotate for a reason. After reading your post I went and watched a video of top rugby players doing side steps. They pretty much all move off their planted foot from this position. Dorsiflexed ankle, knee forward and hip internally rotated.

    If you lift the free leg and move laterally then the system changes, your torso is moving in a direction at an angle to the vertical so the vertical load that is the big problem with valgus knee position is not as much a factor being that it is now a lesser component of a diagonal force acting through the laterally inclined leg. Basically as you actually make the movement, your knee is actually back in line.

  18. Tony Says:

    I must continue to agree with Preston. I am certainly not disputing that athletes do not push off with the inside of the foot, and I am all in for improving movement efficiency. However, just because the body can move in a certain pattern doesn’t mean it is correct or safe.

  19. Chris A. Says:

    Hey Brijesh,

    very though provoking post for me. Lately i’ve felt like i move better laterally when I stay on the insides of my feet, not really thinking of shin angles.

    but just trying to think it through, is part of the reason that this method (for lateral movement) is safer because the force vectors generated have a more lateral component than say, a barbell squat would. in the case of the squat the valgus angles are detrimental to the kentic chain when creating/absorbing vertical force, but the same angle serves more beneficial when creating/absorbing forces with a more horizontal component? shit i hope that made some kind of sense…

  20. Brijesh Patel Says:

    I’m glad I was able to get some people thinking here and provoking some good discussion.

    I do think that the directional component plays a larger role in improving movement efficiency and therefore allows the angle to be safer.

    I categorize what we do as S/C coaches into 3 main categories:
    GPP, SPPP (special), SPP (specific).
    Weight room work is GPP – general exercises geared towards improving muscular force, neuromuscular control, efficiency, etc.

    SpecialPP – plyometrics, movement work (linear and lateral) – this is bridging the gap b/w GPP and SPP – similar velocities, forces and patterns that are experienced in sport

    SPP – play your sport – in basketball, it would be dribbling, shooting working on post moves, dribble moves, etc.

    If we look at it this way, movement efficiency work falls into our special category and we are looking to improve the mechanics as we would perform them in sport. Plyos fall into the same category – you want to move off the ball of the foot and midfoot to move efficiently – you wouldn’t load the heels would you? Shin Angles happen in sport and we want to teach our athletes to move efficiently to reduce the energy cost of movement and allow them to perform their skills at a higher level.

    Hope this makes sense – but realize weight room activities are quite different than sporting movements. Squatting and deadlifting are meant to improve the force output of the system – but are not very specific to how movement occurs when we move on the field, court or ice.


  21. Chris Says:

    B, what about an athlete that uses a good shin angle to push off & is explosive applying force, but always seems to attempt to recover in a suppinated foot position. Is that just a matter of a weak foot/ankle?

  22. Chris A. Says:

    Just dug into Charlie Weingroff’s Dvd series and he makes a point about the anti ankle sprain muscle being at your hips, not connected to the ankle. So if your foot is in a bad recovery position it may be a hip issue type of thing?

  23. Brijesh Patel Says:

    Tough to say if it a weak ankle/foot – you have to look at the entire kinetic chain…think Gary Gray.

    The hips definitely have a large role in preventing ankle sprains, but so do the peroneals – which are active in eversion.

    Everything is connected and changing direction and moving laterally is a motor skill….your relative strength, stiffness, and neuromuscular control is going to play a large part in it as well. And these qualities can all be improved.


  24. Pedro Sun Says:


    Thanks for the video. I’m not as seasoned as you are not by a long shot and I actually tell my clients that if we were to “toe out” or externally rotate the feet too much then force production at the hips is decreased (i.e. you don’t see people jumping w/ extreme external rotation), therefore you helped me explain it another way. I dig the whole Gary Gray stuff also. He has this saying that goes something like this: The knee is like the garbage truck. If you have garbage movement, issues, whatever at the hip or ankle, then the knee suffers and all the garbage from the hip or ankle or both gets dumped onto the knees.

    Pedro Sun CSCS

  25. Brian McCormick Says:

    In terms of knee injuries, one unmentioned advantage is the lead leg on a change of direction. If the feet are pointed out, to change direction, you have to change the foot back to a neutral position or the twisting on a change of direction movement will place far more stress on the knee than any hip internal rotation for a lateral push-off.

    I have never heard of a player tearing her ACL on the push-off leg due to internal rotation and knee valgus, but I know of two players who tore their ACLs while drop-stepping with a foot pointed outward.

  26. Brijesh Patel Says:

    Brian – another great point and you are right on about the Gary Gray quote regarding the knees!


  27. Joe Haefner Says:

    Nice video and I really enjoy all of the comments.

    Brian, to what degree do you let the lead leg open up? I see many players open up between 10 and 30 degrees (estimation). However, when they stop and change directions, their foot position is straight ahead and it’s something that is very natural to do. Is this something to change? It seems to me that keeping the back leg straight ahead and the lead leg a little more open helps with the lateral speed. Also, when transitioning to a crossover step, it tends to be quicker and easier.

    If I see an athlete really open up their lead leg 30 degrees + , I will make a change but if it’s minute, I rarely adjust the lead leg because I don’t want the athlete thinking about the adjustment too much. The whole saying, “The more the player thinks, the slower their feet gets.”

  28. Brian McCormick Says:


    If players open their foot naturally, I don’t try to change it. However, if it appears that they are consciously trying to point the toe in the direction of movement, because of some instruction, I discourage the conscious control.

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