thanks for the quick reply!
the questions are kind of together, I am using opengl, and I was wonder if the method I was using was causing the frame drop. also, from the books I read I think they redraw the sprite instead of using gltranslate. so I have thought that maybe that was causing the frame drop.
to give some context, the character is launched and travels along a long distance horizontally, with the backgrounds and enemies flying past him at speeds decided by his "speed" stat which changes often.