We examined the functional role of braking forces observed when humans execute turning maneuvers. Deceleration caused by braking forces contributes to changing the movement direction of the center of mass (COM) and maintaining constant velocity. We argue that braking forces also prevent over-rotation of the body about the vertical axis during maneuvers. We analyzed data from sidestep and crossover cuts at average initial running velocities of 3 m s(-1). Absent braking, lateral forces would result in body rotations 1.4-3 times the change in COM movement direction, causing the orientation of the body to be substantially mis-aligned with the direction of movement at the end of the step. A simple model based on the hypothesis that body rotation should match COM deflection can explain 70% of the variance in braking forces employed during running turns.