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Best Drills To Improve Footwork?

Im a HS senior, done with HS football and now looking on the college. Im not D1 prospect, but i know im going to play somewhere. As an offensive and defensive lineman, footwork and explosion is very VERY important. I come to you with this, o sensai’s of the pump: What are some of the best drills that i could do to help to improve my footwork, and short explosion so as to help me the most on the field?

All help is greatly appreciated

i would imagine that heavy deads and sumos and speed squats emphasizing the speed in transition from lowering to raising the weight are your best friends. going sub-maximally heavy or not-so-heavy-but-fast will force you to put tremendous effort into stability (not to mention power).

thanks wufwugy…Any drills that are just running and the like?

im a trainer for a company called explosive performance and we specialize in training for speed and quickness. We train most of the elite football players for UVA, VATech, and UMD, and also all the area’s elite high school athletes (D.C. Metro area)

i have to study for a final tonight, but sometime in the next couple of days I will post a whole shitload of things you can do for footwork

hoosierdaddy

Coach Davies has his entire book on “Renegade Football” and I believe there are several footwork drills in there. While what wufwugy points out certainly helps in developing overall power and explosiveness, they really do not have anything to do with pure agility and footwork. Try the Coach Davies route.

Good luck to you!

Kuz

i think peoples ideas about footwork and agility are a little misguided. a few years ago, i was seriously injured and was bedridden for months. i payed no attention to maintaining athleticism because i was in such trauma. when i got out of the bed and off crutches and was able to walk again and my leg was the same size as before (it atrophied) i felt i was my old athletic self again. so i jumped back into sports and became very frustrated. instead of performing excellently like i did before injury i performed very poorly. my sport required intense footwork and agility and mine had declined alot. my motor skills were the same as before (you don’t lose those until you start aging). my problem was that i lost alot of power.

what am i trying to say? power is most important for footwork and agility.

a lesson from joe defranco: the gym is for increasing power, the sport is for increasing application of power.

i have no recommendations for drills enhancing footwork and agility because there are no drills that will enhance footwork and agility (except through enhancing power or motor skills, but thats what the gym and the sport are for).

bigdirk,

after reading your second post again i realized that there is a possibility that you don’t have much access to gym and weights, therefore you have to run and such for increases in performance.

is this the case? let me know.

i have no recommendations for drills enhancing footwork and agility because there are no drills that will enhance footwork and agility (except through enhancing power or motor skills, but thats what the gym and the sport are for).

wufwugy, i have to say that though i believe your points to be valid, I just don’t agree. I have great access to a gym around here, so the lifting portion is not a problem. I feel however, that drills DO help to enhance football. If they did not, then why would we do so many quick feet type drills during practice everyday?

And Hoosierdaddy anything you could post would be greatly appreciated.

I would have to say I completely disagree that you only need weight room work to improve agility/footwork. The vast majority of weightroom strength excercises will build plenty of power, true, but the vast of majority of that is in the forward/backward direction only. To even come close to replicating strength and power required for general multi-directional athletic agility, you would have to add in a lot of excercises for all kinds of lateral movement, hip adduction and abduction, and all manner of twisting movements. You would also have to add not only power work, but muscle endurance sets as well. Because I don’t care if you can deadlift or squat all the weight in the gym a few times, its worthless on the field unless you can produce most of that power every play, all game long. The list of necessary excercises and endurance variations on each excercise would become too long to do effectively in the gym. It also wouldn’t give you the agility to combine all the movements together athletically. As a lineman, it does you no good to have the single most powerful sideways first step, but then not be able to shuffle quickly enough to take another step.

It would be like trying to train for a clean and jerk just by doing deadlifts, jump squats, explosive shrugs, upright rows, and standing shoulder press. Sure, those would all build strength and power necessary to do a clean and jerk, which is important, but the only way you’re going to learn the athleticism and agility necessary is to DO the clean and jerk.

With all that said, I don’t have any suggestions on what TO do, I just wanted to reinforce the need for actual agility drills in addition to weight work. But that Coach Davies book sounds good. His articles on this site always seem to be focused on direct application of power and strength to athletic movement, so that sounds great.

beans, im quite pleased that you mentioned clean and jerks, because you proved my point.

clean and jerk is a sport. go play it. dont practice some drill imitating cleans and jerks because you’ll just fuck up your motor patterns and ability to make power gains through cns lack-of-recovery.

bigdirk, i like your respect for authority. your coaches have you doing drills…and they must know what they’re doing, right?

because i responded to your original post i am obliged to express myself despite how egotistical it may make me seem.

i am right. footwork drills are shoddy. train for power and play your sport. drills are counterproductive.

but then again, if you believe drills will work, they quite possibly will…

If you have even a small group of fellow players or the chance to train with your old HS team over the offseason, here is an idea. I am not a big believer in specific agility training (ladders) and the like. A great way to improve your on-field speed and footwork is to hit the gym hard for strength and power gains and try and find ways to transfer it to the field. For instance, if you have access to weighted vest, wear it and peform various pass rush and pass blocking drills.

I think you all are at least somewhat correct, in that YES you need to increase maximal strength/power to be more agile, and YES you need to be more agile to use your new strength/power.

Football drils ARE their sport! Basketball drills ARE their sport! Etc, etc… They do drills that closely represent their game. As a D-linemen in college, we ran figure-8’s. Basically, two Hula-hoops were placed on the ground about two feet apart. We sprinted as hard as we could while staying just outside the tubing, making a figure-8. In a game situation, these rushing angles and forces are used - not the whole figure-8, but parts of it.

Drills are to potentiate your athletic skill. Meaning, your DNA is pre-programmed with your max foot-speeds and hand-eye coordination when we are born. When you think you are improving your motor skills you are only “uncovering” you potential. Once that potential is reached there is nothing you can do to get better. That’s why often times elite athletes have their success come just a tad easier than most of us. “They were born to be that good” is a true statement. Again, drills are to potentiate your athletic skill.

Now, plyometrics ARE NOT drills for athletic ability/skill, they are to potentiate the conversion of raw strength/max strength to power (eg. box jumping, high hurdle hops). Again, we are pre-programmed with how high we can jump, so plyos simply allow you to see just how far you can get with your potential. But, if you are a poor jumper, no matter what you do no training/lifting/drills will significantly improve that aspect of your athletic ability.

In summary, you need to concentrate on all aspects of sport to reach your individual potential. This is weight lifting for both maximal strength and power, using plyometrics (sparingly) to convert strength to reactive power (train the CNS too), and you need skill drills to help hone your hand-eye/motor skills.

So, everyone’s post is at least somewhat correct.

TopSirloin
Certified personal trainer and throws coach

I hear what you all are saying, and wufwugy i feel as if we are talking of the same thing in different manners. Of course the best way for me to improve my feet with regards to football would be to play it, but right now thats an impossibility, so I am looking for drills that will get me as close as I can to the real thing. Top Sirloin gave a great example with the figure eights. The drills I am looking for are those that closely resemble that which I do on the field, as I can’t play football all year round.

BigDirk

It seems as if the debate over specific drills for footwork might take a while. In the meantime, check out this site for video clips of various plyometric drills.

http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~j15/duckpower.html

Also, don’t overlook your flexibility training. Of all the D1 players I’ve seen and worked with, there’s never been one that was drafted by the NFL that didn’t have very good flexibility. On the other hand I’ve seen many VERY strong, yet unflexible players who never excelled on the field.

TopSerloins post summed things up very well, and do the figure 8 drill he recommended as there are many college teams that do the same thing.

One of the most common agility drills/tests that you will find in college is the 5-10-5 or pro agility drill. You’ve probably done it before and you can expect to be tested on it as well. Simply practicing the drill may help your acceleration, decelaration and if you can get your times down you’ll look better to the coaches.

guys,

as much as i love debate, we will end up shedding more heat than light on this subject. so i concede…

Big Dirk-

Go EASY with the plyometrics! Even when jogging your legs/low-back receives several times your body weight in force, plyos can deliver many times your body weight in forces (in the thousands of pounds, or several hundred pounds per square inch!). Therefore, you should have a trainer/coach or a good program to periodize when you do them. They are EXTREMELY taxing on the body, so they are “typically” worked in and out of the training program in intervals (periodization). From the Olympians and elite athletes I competed/consulted with, they would only use plyometrics for 2-3 weeks, 2-4 times per YEAR! These again are only to convert some of your maximal strength to functional power and train the stretch/shortening reaction of your hammies. They do not need to be done all the time. This is a huge mistake with many athletes/programs, and can lead to over-use injuries and ACL tears.

Sorry I didn’t list more drills, so here are a few besides the figure-8’s:

The shuttle run: (that someone just posted) sprint to the left 5 yards, sprint across the starting point for 10 yards, then sprint back through the starting point again for 5 yards (5-10-5 drill). Time yourself - times should be a few tenths lower than your 40. This differential should grow in time. This is EXCELLENT for power, foot-speed/agility. I had a weak 40 time (5.0), but being a linemen this drill is truly where you need to excel and this is just about the most position-specific you can get! (I got down to a 4.4, which isn’t too bad for the college level).

The box drill: sprint forward 5 yards, side-shuffle 5 yards left, back-pedal 5 yards, side-shuffle 5 yards back to starting point. Repeat, but rotate your starting point clockwise every set. Do these as fast/as quick as possible, but stay close to the corners (make sharp turns).

Cutter drill: set a slalom of cones up every 5 yards and sprint and plant diagonally toward the each cone (like a downhill slalom skiing course).

Cone-hop/sprint: place two cones 5 yards apart. Hop laterally over the cone for 5 reps, then sprint to the next cone hop back and forth over that cone for 5 reps, then back-pedal to first cone and repeat.

OL pass block drill (Tony Baselli Drill): find a smooth wall/fence and lateral shuffle while hitting the wall at shoulder height, as if you are trying to pass block a rusher. Stay EXTREMELY low with this, shuffle your feet like lightening, and really strike the wall (you will need wrist tape)!

Defensive back drill: back-pedal then swivel left and right as you shuffle your feet, all while going backwards. Stay LOW and do this on grass/soft surface until you get good at it, as you WILL fall if you are pushing yourself!

Basically, you want to combine movements to simulate all the dynamics of a football play. So, you can make-up your own drills by making several agility stations combined with a sprint/shuffle/back-pedal in intervals.

VERY IMPORTANT: make sure your sets are no longer than 15-30 seconds. The whole point to a drill is to get better at it, right?! So, why do it when you are under-recovered from the previous set? If you train ANY movement (lift or drill) when you have an oxygen/ATP deficit you will be training yourself to be SLOWER!!! Therefore, you still want to get a workout, but take note of your breathing and heart-rate. Be sure you are 80-90% recovered before attempting the next set. Otherwise, you are ONLY doing cardio, you are NOT getting any better. (So, if you are being taught to do your cleans in the same set-rep scheme as your power lifts, someone is doing you are major disservice! Olympic lifts are to be limited to a MAX of 3 reps per any given set, regardless of goal! They are HIGH skill/complex motor movement - you need to be fresh to get better at them.)

Speaking of cardiovascular capacity, you should have a sprint workout on OPPOSITE days that you do these drills. Here you can work to improve your conditioning, with repeat 100 to 200 meter dashes.

PM me for more specifics if you need them.

TopSirloin
Certified personal trainer and coach

[quote]BigDirk wrote:
Im a HS senior, done with HS football and now looking on the college. Im not D1 prospect, but i know im going to play somewhere. As an offensive and defensive lineman, footwork and explosion is very VERY important. I come to you with this, o sensai’s of the pump: What are some of the best drills that i could do to help to improve my footwork, and short explosion so as to help me the most on the field?

All help is greatly appreciated [/quote]

I would Strongly Recommend you get a copy of Charles Staley’s Secrets of Combat Fitness! Please do NOT assume the book is only for martial artists, because it is not. It is meant for any athlete requiring a lot of speed strength and agility like yourself. It has several drills in there that are incredible including the dot drill, originated by Adolph Rupp, the famous Kentucky basketball coach, and the Max Jones Qudrathlon!

Nick

[quote]wufwugy wrote:

what am i trying to say? power is most important for footwork and agility.

a lesson from joe defranco: the gym is for increasing power, the sport is for increasing application of power."

Agree 1000%. Build your absolute strength, improve your power output and play your sport. I found out that after years of running thru cones that the best way to become a better TE was to…well, play TE. I go out 3-4 times a week, run patterns, have someone throw me the ball, ect…and ya know what? I’ve improved 20fold. I used to look like a lineman catching passes, now I look like a true, big, athletic, graceful Tight End.

The only non-lifting drill I’d recomend is jumping rope.

[quote]IL Cazzo wrote:
wufwugy wrote:

what am i trying to say? power is most important for footwork and agility.

a lesson from joe defranco: the gym is for increasing power, the sport is for increasing application of power."

Agree 1000%. Build your absolute strength, improve your power output and play your sport. I found out that after years of running thru cones that the best way to become a better TE was to…well, play TE. I go out 3-4 times a week, run patterns, have someone throw me the ball, ect…and ya know what? I’ve improved 20fold. I used to look like a lineman catching passes, now I look like a true, big, athletic, graceful Tight End.

The only non-lifting drill I’d recomend is jumping rope.

[/quote]

I agree that the biggest part of the formula to being better at your sport… is plaing your sport! That goes without saying. On the other hand, you may be a seasoned TE. Meaning you ARE quick, agile, strong and don’t have to improve upon anything significantly, except your route and catching skills.

For a large majority of athletes, especially young, growing, developing athletes, sport specific drills are a great way to reinforce the footwork/agility necessary to be better at your sport. As long as the drills are sport specific (position specific even better) than it will likely add to your game.

Having said that, you can run a 3.4 shuttle or vertical leap 45", but if you can’t bring those exceptional abilities to the playing field, than you might as well just assume you won’t be getting your uniform dirty! :wink: Yes, you still have to be good at your sport/position and not just great at drills. But again, if the drill is designed properly, it SHOULD closely immitate your sport! (ie, the figure-8’s for a DL is one of the best drills they can run, besides live rushing!).

There are many variables to being sucessful at your sport… however, often times just playing it isn’t enough. This is evident in 70-80% of most high school athletic programs, as the athletes are often under-trained in not just strength training, but cross-training as well. In other words, they have spent TOO much time just playing their sport and they have developed weak links.

TopSirloin