This article was provided by Training-Conditioning
Have you found that while your athletes are consistently getting stronger, they are not gaining agility? If so, you might want to consider adding footwork and running drills to their workouts.
Doing this will not only make your athletes faster, but also give them more power and endurance. When implementing agility drills, one of the best instruments to use is a cone.
Affordable and easy to transport, cones can add variety to any workout. Unfortunately, some coaches associate cone drills with football, and many of the exercises actually have football in their name. However, Matt Rhodes, Head of Strength and Conditioning at Morehead State, found that none of them are truly sport-specific. After four weeks of applying these drills to the workouts of the softball team at Morehead, both players and coaches noticed great improvement in how the athletes looked and moved.
“My advice: no matter what sport you work with find some football cone drills and teach your athletes how to do them,” Rhodes wrote in an article for elitefts. “In my opinion, no drills like this are sport-specific (I said football because football has thousands of cone drills to choose from). They are simply drills that get the athletes moving and changing direction in a variety of different ways.”
In an article for Livestrong, personal trainer Joe King echoes the sentiment that these drills can help athletes adapt to the fast-paced environment of any sport. According to King, having athletes run to cones in different patterns can increase their speed, as they are training the skeletal muscles to contract quickly. While building speed, cone drills can also help athletes increase their balance and coordination.
“By setting up a series of cones in patterns that require a lot of forward, backward and lateral body movements, you can increase agility,” writes King. “In sports competitions, this means that you may be able to move more efficiently across the playing field.”
Beyond speed and agility, cone drills can also make your athletes more explosive. This can be done by making sure athletes are pushing off of each turn as hard as possible or even having them jump over cones at progressively higher platforms. And while it may seem like these drills are aimed only towards short bursts of energy, they can also help athletes build endurance.
“Having muscular and cardiovascular endurance can help you maintain a high level of intensity over a long duration, such as during a sporting event,” writes King. “You can increase both your muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance by interval training with cones. Interval training involves setting up cones progressively further apart from one another and running back and forth between them with little to no rest in between.”
Along with interval training, there are a plethora of cone drills that can be used to improve athlete performance. Here are two explained by Jay Dawes, PhD, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D, FNSCA, in an article for the National Strength and Conditioning Association:
This drill is good for improving quickness in confined spaces. It should be done for approximately 10 seconds per set, and athletes should do two or three sets.
- Set up four cones in a square with sides approximately 6-10 feet long.
- Number the cones one through four.
- The athlete assumes an athletic position in the center of the box.
- Specify whether the athlete will touch each cone with a specific hand or just using the closest one.
- With either a hand signal or out loud, the coach will give the athlete a number.
- The athlete will run, backpedal, or shuffle to the specified cone and touch it.
- The athlete sprints back to the starting position.
This drill will help athletes learn how to rapidly adjust stride and foot placement to change into other movement patterns.
- Set up four cones in a the shape of a Y. The two cones at the top of the Y and the base cone should be placed about 10 yards from the middle cone.
- The cones should be numbered as follows: base cone—1, middle cone—2, top cones—3 & 4.
- The coach stands in front of cone 2, inside the V at the top of the Y.
- The athlete assumes a sport-specific position at cone 1.
- At the coach’s designated signal, the athlete sprints to cone 2.
- The coach then directs the athlete to which of the three other cones he or she should sprint to next.
- Coaches can modify this drill by having athletes backpedal or side shuffle to the designated cone.
To see five other cone drills in action, check out this video from Profect Sports
The YouTube video below has sound, so please make sure your volume is turned up and that you have access to the site. Note some schools block access to YouTube