This week I was given the challenge of understanding –  and learning to love  – American Football. Anyone who knows me, will understand that a challenge set before me will get picked up, if at all possible. This one seemed tough – too many rules, a lot of hype, and antisocial hours when it does get televised in the UK. But I DO like skill in speed sports. So, I thought I’d start there.

My education starts with the Spin Move, as promoted byLaDainian Tomlinson

Here’s what he says about his stop, turn, accelerate move:

You always want to keep the ball away from defenders, so if you’re coming around the outside you should keep the ball in your outside arm. This makes it more difficult for defenders to get to the ball, and it allows you to use your inside arm to fend off tacklers. When you spin, remember to keep the ball tight to your body don’t let it extend outward.

A key part of a successful spin move is staying balanced. You don’t want to approach the defender with so much momentum that you crash right into him that only makes his job easier. As you approach the tackler, come to balance with your body in control and your feet under you. That’ll put you in much better position to set up your spin move.

One of the most important elements of the spin move happens before you even spin. The shake you give the defender is what throws him off balance and allows the spin to be effective. Just before the point of contact, shake (or juke) in one direction and get the tackler to turn his hips. Then plant your foot and spin back the other way, past your man.

Once you’ve executed the spin, it’s time to turn on the jets. Square you body downfield again and accelerate as fast as you can. This will prevent the original defender from reaching back and making an ankle tackle, and it will reestablish your forward momentum to take on the next defender, if there is one. If not, have a nice trip to the end zone.”

It works because the defender is already moving at speed so that there isn’t much time for him to adjust. Tomlinson gets a lot of power by pushing off on his standing foot, ahead of the defender. He does his little shuffle before pushing off, which confuses the defender further. Altogether, a smart tactic. I could get to like this game.