Let’s say that you’re a high school or college football player. Your first team practice is just months, if not weeks away. If you’ve been doing your homework, this is the culmination of effort that began the day that the previous season ended.
But now, with fall rapidly approaching, there’s still a need – or desire – to get better. Should you follow a new lifting program? What type of speed work should you be doing? Which supplements should you take? How can you be as prepared for the fourth quarter as you are for the first?
Football is truly unique due to its pace of play. Think about it. The average play from the line of scrimmage lasts anywhere between 5 to 7 seconds, and there’s anywhere from 25 to 35 seconds between each snap. Your coaches know this. They prepare for it. That’s why there’s little use for long-distance running beyond the occasional mile or 100-yard sprint. For life on the gridiron, conditioning must be tailored toward anaerobic training, to prepare players for the pace of the sport.
It’s also why 300 lb. offensive and defensive linemen can thrive on the same field as a wide receiver. But, that’s a story for another day.
Here are a few drills that can enhance your ability to perform in short bursts of energy, which is required for the sport of football.
Sprint ladders encourage speed, ability and coordination while building leg muscles. We suggest doing pairs of 10 yards, 20 yards and 30 yards (40 and 50 yards for skill positions), then 30, 20 and 10-yard sprints with 20 to 30 seconds between each sprint.
SPRINT SLIDE INTERVALS
Instead of an all-out 100-yard sprint, we suggest performing interval sets of 20-yard sprints and 20-yard strides for the full length of the field. Strides help players develop the ability to cover more ground in less time, resulting in greater speed production.
This is another drill that uses the full length of the field. We suggest starting at the corner of the end zone and striding for all 100 yards, focusing on long steps at a medium speed. Jog to the opposite side of the end zone, then do another 100-yard stride. Start at 3 to 4 sets early on and progress as the season nears.
This progressive sprint drill builds endurance for that all-important fourth quarter. Start by doing four 10-yard sprints with 10 seconds of rest in between. Then, move to four 20-yard sprints with 20 seconds of rest in between. Next, try four 30-yard sprints with 30 seconds of rest in between. If you get through that, alternate 20-yard sprints and strides for a full field with 30 seconds between each segment.