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Five Football Training Drills You Can Use To Whip Your Team Into Shape



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A sports team is nothing without a great coach to guide them. You’re equal parts leader and mentor; equal parts drill sergeant and friend. It’s a difficult job, but also an immensely rewarding one if done right.

“Sports coaches assist athletes in developing to their full potential,” reads a piece on Top End Sports. “They are responsible for training athletes in a sport by analyzing their performances, instructing in relevant skills, and providing encouragement.”

Part of that training involves drills, physical exercise patterns designed to promote athletic growth.  Today, we’re going to go over a few of the more brutal – and brutally efficient – exercises you can use to hammer the members of your football team into better, more hardened athletes. Note that this is just a balanced sampling; there are tons more drills out there on the web just waiting to be discovered and adapted for your team.

Let’s get started.

The Gut Buster

Our first exercise, courtesy of The Art of Manliness, is rather fittingly known as The Gut Buster. This one’s all about fitness and endurance. It requires the following steps:

  1. Set up two cones or markers, each about forty yards apart.
  2. Stand by one cone and perform ten squat jumps.
  3. Sprint as fast as possible to the opposite cone.
  4. Perform ten situps.
  5. Sprint back to the original cone.
  6. Perform ten burpees
  7. Sprint again.
  8. Perform ten pushups
  9. Sprint again.
  10. Perform ten mountain climbers.
  11. Sprint again.
  12. Perform ten jumping jacks.
  13. Sprint again.
  14. Perform ten pushups.
  15. Finally, sprint back to your starting position.

If this drill doesn’t get your team in shape, then nothing will.

The Uphill Speed Ladder

Our next exercise was pioneered by NFL player Patrick Peterson, and is a play on the standard Speed Ladder exercise, which is meant to improve speed and agility. Setup is simple, and requires nothing more than a simple rope ladder. It goes something like this:

  1. Set up a rope ladder on a steep hill so that the rungs are evenly spaced.
  2. Have an athlete stand at the bottom of the hill, directly in front of the ladder.
  3. Make them ‘climb,’ tapping each rung with their feet until they reach the top.
  4. Repeat for at least three to five sets.

You can see a video of the drill in action here.

Kettlebell Drills

Technically, this drill is actually two different drills combined into one. The first half, known as the Kettlebell Lateral Lunge, strengthens the core and back while improving hip, leg, and groin flexibility. It involves the following steps:

  1. Hold a kettlebell in front of you with both hands; knees slightly bent and shoulder-width apart.
  2. Step to the right and perform a lateral lunge, taking care not to allow your knee to go past your toes. Keep your heel on the floor at all times.
  3. Extend your arms and hold the kettlebell out in front of you for one to two seconds.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat 6-8 times for each leg.

The Kettlebell Bulgarian Squat, meanwhile, increases lower body strength and improves both stability and balance. To perform it:

  1. Hold a kettlebell in each hand, and prop one of your feet up on an elevated platform behind you.
  2. Put your weight on the heel of your front leg, and drop down until the knee of your back leg touches the ground. Keep your chest forward while you do this.
  3. Stand back up.
  4. Repeat 6-8 times per leg.

You can see what it looks like here.

Resisted High Knees

A favorite of running back Chris Johnson, resisted high knees improves the stride length and sprint technique of anyone who uses it. To run this drill:

  1. Have your athletes split off into pairs, and give each pair a resistance waistband.
  2. Have one player run in place, using an exaggerated opposite -arm and -leg pattern while the other applies resistance.
  3. Repeat for at least four to six sets.
  4. Have the players switch places, and repeat steps 2 and 3.

You can see how the drill looks here.

The X-Drill

Though a speed/agility drill like the uphill speed ladder, the X-drill focuses much more on improving footwork. It requires the following steps:

  1. Set up a five yard by five yard box, with a marker on each ‘corner.’
  2. Starting at one box, have a player run diagonally to the opposite cone.
  3. Shuffle laterally, then sprint diagonally again.
  4. Sprint back to the starting cone.
  5. Repeat going in the opposite direction.

Check it out here.

Closing Thoughts

The drills outlined here are far from the only ones you can put your football team through. These are just designed to get you started. As a coach, it’s up to you do do a bit of research into what drills might work for your team – and to invent a few of your own in the process.

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