Football Speed Drills
By John Shea
Maximizing speed burst ability on the football field is a product of improving players’ agility. It’s vital to use training exercises that focus movement on the legs and core muscles in order to achieve a higher level of agility. Stabilizing exercises will increase the strength in tendons throughout the body, allowing players to develop explosive reaction time after the snap and increase overall performance. It’s crucial to train at an intensity level equal to in-game situations. This will help minimize injury risk while training and also allow players to simulate in-game movements.
Several key football speed drills are necessary in order to help players maximize their speed burst ability on the field. The biggest component of agility training is stretching because it ensures that maximum positive output is gained while injury risk is minimized. A 15-minute warm-up period needs to proceed all agility workouts where all major muscle groups are stretched.
After a warm-up period has been completed, players should partake in running coordination drills. Examples of this type of exercise include drum majors, up-downs, jump twists, and backwards jog. Up-downs require players to jog in place, kick their feet behind their bodies, assume the pushup position on the turf and use their momentum to push themselves back into an upright jogging position. The objective of running coordination drills is to make players comfortable with vigorous movement. All exercises should include two or three sets of five to 10 repetitions.
Agility exercises specific to football focus on developing players’ speed burst ability, improving their ability to quickly change direction and increase their overall endurance. Some activities, like resistance runs and elephant (also known as “Indian”) runs, teach players the value of teamwork. Endurance-specific exercises also include wind sprints and hill runs. All endurance drills are designed to maximize players’ energy systems, allowing them to handle the 60-minute grind of a football game.
Football Speed Drills
A majority of football-specific agility exercises require the use of markers. The shuttle run, for example, requires three cones to be evenly placed approximately five to 10 meters apart. To complete the drill, players starting at the middle point must sprint to one marker, touch the ground, then sprint to the opposite marker, touch the ground and return to the middle. This drill tests players’ ability to change direction and is predominantly used to diagnose defensive players’ quickness in the NFL combine.
Other agility drills include the ‘T’ run and zig-zags, both of which also require markers. The ‘T’ run is similar to the shuttle run. It uses a fourth marker placed straight out from the middle cone, creating a ‘T’ shape. The drill forces players to start at the isolated cone, sprint to the middle marker, turn around it and reverse direction to either the left or right cone. A player must loop around each marker and return to the starting point in order to complete the drill.
All football speed drills and agility drills serve the purpose of increasing a player’s ability to react in game situations by simulating vigorous change of direction movements.