High School Football: Building a Solid Top-End Speed and Agility Foundation
Speed and agility are crucial elements for success in high school football. Players who excel in these areas are often more dynamic on the field, leading to improved performance and better results.
Ladder drills are a popular choice for improving foot speed, coordination, and agility. Using an or agility ladder or drill ladder, players can perform a variety of exercises that challenge their speed, footwork, and balance. Some popular agility ladder and sprint drill ladder drills include:
In-Outs: Step in and out of each ladder box with both feet while moving forward.
Ickey Shuffle: Step in, out, and then forward while alternating feet.
Lateral High Knees: Move laterally through the ladder, lifting knees high and quickly alternating feet.
5-10-5 Shuttle Drill (Pro Agility Drill):
Purpose: Improve lateral quickness football agility, change-of-direction movement skills, and body control.
Setup: Place three cones in a straight line, 5 yards apart.
Start at the middle cone in a 3-point stance.
Sprint 5 yards to the right cone, and touch the ground with your right hand.
Change direction and sprint 10 yards to the left cone, touching the ground with your left hand.
Finally, change direction again and sprint back 5 yards to the middle cone, crossing the finish line.
Repeat the drill in the opposite direction to ensure equal work on both sides.
Purpose: Improve multi-directional movement agility and accelerate change-of-direction skills.
Setup: Arrange four cones in a T-shape, with the position of the base cone 10 yards from the position of the center cone, and the position of each side cone 5 yards away from the position of the center cone.
Start at the base cone in a 3-point stance.
Sprint to the center cone and touch it with your right hand.
Shuffle laterally to the right cone and touch it with your right hand.
Shuffle across to the left cone, touching it with your left hand.
Shuffle back to the center cone and touch it with your left hand.
Backpedal to the starting cone, crossing the finish line.
Purpose: Enhance change-of-direction skills, both footwork ability, quickness, and overall agility.
Setup: Set up five cones in five positions in a W-pattern, with final cone between two cones, each cone approximately 5 yards apart.
Start at the bottom left cone in a 3-point stance.
Sprint forward to the first cone and make a sharp turn around it.
Continue sprinting and making sharp turns around each cone, following the W-pattern.
Finish the drill by sprinting past the top right cone.
Purpose: Improve weaving, football speed and agility drills drill change-of-direction movement skills, and body control.
Setup: Place six to eight cones in a straight line, with approximately 3 yards between each cone.
Start at the first cone in a 3-point stance.
Sprint forward, weaving in and out of the cones as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Focus on maintaining proper body control, keeping the upper body steady, and driving the arms.
Finish the drill by sprinting past the last cone.
L-Drill (3-Cone Drill):
Purpose: Develop quickness, acceleration, body control ability, and fluidity in change-of-direction movements.
Setup: Arrange three cones in an L-shape, with each cone 5 yards apart.
Start at the first cone in a 3-point stance.
Sprint forward to the second cone and touch it with your right hand.
Turn and sprint back to the first cone, touching it with your right hand.
Turn again and sprint back to the second cone, rounding it and running in a loop around the third cone.
Cut sharply around the third cone, staying on the inside, and sprint back to the first cone, crossing the finish line.
Incorporate these cone drills and videos into your football agility training program to develop quickness, agility, body control, and change-of-direction skills. Remember to practice each drill with proper technique and gradually begin to increase the speed and intensity as you begin to become more comfortable with the movements.
Plyometric exercises help build explosive power, speed, and agility. These exercises involve jumping and bounding movements that challenge a player's ability to generate force quickly. Some plyometric exercises to consider include:
Box Jumps: Jump onto a box or platform, focusing on explosive upward movement and soft landings.
Broad Jumps: Jump forward as far as possible from a standing position, landing softly on both feet.
Skater Jumps: Jump laterally from one foot to the other, as if skating. Focus on quick, powerful jumps and stable landings.
Resistance training can help improve how players develop overall strength, which translates to greater speed and agility on the field. Implement resistance bands or sleds to challenge players during sprints and other football agility drills, and drills for football now. Some examples include:
Banded Sprints: Attach a resistance band around the waist and have a partner provide resistance while sprinting.
Sled Drags: Attach a sled or weight to a harness and sprint forward, focusing on driving through the legs.
Incorporate football-specific movements into agility training drills to help players become more comfortable with game situations. These agility training drills for football only drills, can include:
Shuttle Runs: Set up cones at different distances and have players sprint to each cone, touch the ground, and sprint back to the starting point.
Pass Routes: Have players run specific pass routes, focusing on quick breaks and maintaining speed throughout the route.
Part 2 Top End Speed
Top-end speed is a critical component of success in football. Players who can reach and maintain their top speed on the field are often able to create separation from defenders, chase down opponents, and make game-changing plays. In this blog, we'll explore the science behind top-end football speed itself, and provide tips football drills and exercises to help football players build and maximize their sprinting potential.
Understand the Components of Top-End Speed:
Top-end speed is a combination of stride length (the distance covered in each step) and stride frequency (the number of steps taken per second). To maximize top-end speed, players must focus on improving both aspects of football speed. Techniques such as proper running form, strength training, and flexibility can help players achieve a balanced approach to increasing their top-end speed.
Master Proper Running Mechanics:
Proper running mechanics and footwork are crucial for your agility drills achieving maximum speed on the field. Focus on the following aspects of running form to improve speed, efficiency football agility, and speed:
Arm Swing: Keep arms bent at 90 degrees and swing them in a straight line, driving elbows back to maintain momentum.
Knee Drive: Lift knees high during each stride to create a powerful forward motion.
Foot Strike: Land on the balls of the feet, maintaining a slight forward lean to generate forward momentum.
Incorporate Strength Training:
Developing leg and core strength is essential for increasing top-end speed. Focus on exercises that target the major muscle groups used in sprinting, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors. Some effective strength training exercises include:
Squats: Build lower body strength with weighted squats, focusing on proper form and a full range of motion.
Deadlifts: Strengthen the posterior chain, including hamstrings and glutes, with weighted deadlifts.
Power Cleans: Develop explosive power in the hips and legs with this Olympic lifting exercise
Practice Sprinting Drills:
These sprinting forward and back sprint drill and drills will help improve stride frequency and develop the neuromuscular coordination needed for high-speed sprinting. Some effective sprinting drills include:
Flying Sprints: Start with a jogging or running approach, then accelerate into an all-out sprint for a short distance (30-60 meters). Focus on maintaining proper form and reaching maximum speed.
Downhill Sprints: Sprint downhill, allowing gravity to aid in reaching a faster top speed. Be cautious with this drill, as it can increase the risk of injury if performed improperly.
Resistance Sprints: Use resistance bands or sleds to create additional load during sprints, forcing the body to generate more force and ultimately increase speed.