The legendary Vince Lombardi said, “Football is a game of inches and inches make the champion.” Every inch counts in a football game whether it is reaching for your opponent, receiving, breaking up a play, field position or changing directions, the margin of error is small. A simple change of direction can determine the outcome of a game and acquisition of the skill of body movements is as important as knowledge of the game.
Staying low, head and eye movement, foot placement, hip execution are all part of determining how quickly and purposely one can redirect action. Coaches use cones, wave drills, mirror drills, tag drills, ladders, lines and more to teach and enhance development. The variation of drills and how they are used in conditioning programs are endless..
Though there are unlimited ways to work on agility two drills have become standard in athletics - the long and short shuttle. The long shuttle and short shuttle, which is often referred to as pro agility are great movements that have become standard in athletic programs due in part to their use by the National Football League's Combine. The NFL incorporates these as functional tests in their evaluation of talent. Results of times and the specific rules for running each drill are available online so coaches and athletes can see how they stack up against the very best.
The Short Shuttle or often called Pro Agility Drill
A change of direction tip:
A key to running a line drill is being low when touching the line. Low means hips down as approaching the line not just bending at the waist. The runner should keep the head as close to neutral as possible and look for the line with your peripheral vision. Remember where the head goes the body will follow.
As one extends the arm reaching for the line, the knee and foot on the opposite side of the body should acquire an upfield position that best enables them to return in the opposite direction. This requires the hip above the foot to be open.
Hip Open to Turn Foot Down Field
If too high, the athlete will need to bend down more to touch the line. If the hip remains closed the knee and foot will not be pointed correctly, which diminishes leg power in pushing off to reverse direction.
Knee is Almost Perpendicular to Direction of Return