Football coaches once believed that speed was a natural attribute that couldn't be improved with training, hence the adage "you can't coach speed." But coaches and trainers now focus on both acceleration and top-line speed. And agility drills have remained a priority for the multi-directional running required in football.
Speed ladder drills are a popular way to develop quick feet, which aid both speed and agility. There are about 50 variations of speed ladder drills. Basic movements include running through and planting one foot in each "hole" of the ladder; two feet in each hole; or shuffling laterally with one or two feet in each hole. Perform three to four variations of the drill five days per week, two repetitions each. A full rep is running down the ladder and back again, with a 45-second rest in-between.
The One-Knee Start drill can help improve a football player's acceleration. Start by kneeling and placing the right foot and left knee on the ground, then run laterally to the left by pushing off the right leg for 10 to 15 yards. Repeat the drill with the right knee on the ground and running laterally to the right by pushing off the left leg. Perform three reps in both directions with a 45-second break in between reps if needed, two to three times each week. Push-off and drive as hard as possible off the appropriate leg while rotating the hips to move laterally.
The falling start drill can be completed while doing short or long-distance running and emphasizes proper body lean to maximum speed. Start by standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forward and keep the shoulders, hips and ankles aligned. While falling forward, explode into a sprint off one leg and drive opposite leg into chest. Do two to three reps while driving off each leg, two to three times weekly. Distance can vary from 10-15 yard sprints to develop acceleration speed; or 50 to 100 yards to improve acceleration and top-line line speed sustainability.
The Pro Agility drill is used not only in training but also to assess overall athletic ability. First, set up three training cones in a straight line, five yards part. Start from the middle cone in a three-point stance, which means both feet and one hand are on the ground. Run five yards right or left next to an end cone and plant feet and touch the ground near the cone before sprinting 10 yards to the other end cone. After planting feet and touching ground near the end cone, sprint five yards back to the middle cone. The Pro Agility is also called the 5-10-5 drill because it encompasses sprints of five, 10 and five yards. Perform two reps of this drill two to three times per week.
- Photo Credit Thomas Barwick/Digital Vision/Getty Images