Conditioning Drills: Fast Footwork Cone Drill
Athletes interested in building speed and lateral quickness will benefit from conditioning drills that drive the hip flexors and demand rapid direction changes. Agility starts in the core, but core strength alone can only take an athlete so far. Without fast feet and honed reflexes, athletes may have trouble executing the light-speed direction changes that support performance on the field.
To develop footwork and mental as well as physical agility, athletes can pair the resistance training benefits of the Kbands with cone drills like the one demonstrated in the video below. Both coaches and athletes can observe the video and follow along with the Kbands trainers as they take the viewer through a two person drill designed to condition the body for rapid changes and challenging footwork.
Conditioning Drills: Equipment and Set Up
Before beginning the drill, partners should determine who will call out the direction changes and who will execute the drill. The athlete running the cones will need to attach the Kbands resistance bands securely around the upper legs with the label facing forward and the metal rings on the outside. Once the straps are in place, the athlete can clip the resistance bands to the metal rings with the longer band in the front and the shorter band attached to the rings in the back.
Meanwhile, the athlete in the direction-calling position can lay three orange training cones down in a line about five to six yards apart. (Both the cones and the Kbands resistance bands can be purchased through the website at Kbands Training.com).
Conditioning Drill: Resisted Footwork Sets
When the bands are in place and the cones have been laid down, the first athlete will begin the drill by standing just behind the center cone. This will be called cone number 2. The cone to the athlete’s right will be called number one, and the cone to the left will be called number three. When the starting signal is given, the athlete will begin to backpedal, or sprint in a straight line directly backwards away from the cone.
The other athlete (the “coach”), will allow the runner to backpedal for a distance between five and twenty yards, and then will call out and point to any of the three cones. As soon as the coach calls out a cone, the runner will sprint for that cone, reach the destination and then backpedal directly away from that cone at top speed. After the runner covers a sufficient distance away from the cone, the coach will call out another number and send the runner sprinting toward the new destination.
As the two partners complete this footwork drill, the coach should be sure to allow the runner to back up fully before calling out a new direction, and runner should stay alert to directions and make the changes while staying in control of body position, balance, and technique. During the backpedal, the eyes should stay up and the chest should stay open and full, not closed.
The knees will also play an important role in the success of these footwork drills. As the Kbands place resistance on the runner’s range of motion, the knees will tend to stay closer to the ground and the width of each stride will naturally narrow down. To gain maximum benefits from both the Kbands and the drill, the runner will need to work hard against this resistance, which means lifting and driving the knees and keeping the stride width wide and the range of motion complete during the sprint. If the resisted drills are being executed properly, the athlete should feel strong pressure in the hips and core after each round.
It’s also important to keep these conditioning drill sets short. Each session should last no longer than 15 seconds, since these conditioning drills are designed to develop fast feet and agility more than endurance. Runners should be moving at top speed during the entire 15 second period, so if speed begins to flag, the knees begin to drop, or the chest begins to close off during the backpedal, the drill has probably gone on too long. Athletes should stop at fifteen seconds and rest for a period of a minute to a minute and a half before launching into the next set.
Conditioning Drills: Unresisted Footwork Sets
After completing two to four footwork drills with the resistance bands in place, runners can unclip the bands and secure them to the metal rings to keep them out of the way during the next unresisted set. The unresisted drill will be completed exactly the same way, and for the same length of time as the resisted conditioning drills. But runners will experience the drills in a new way and will have to maintain technique, focus, and speed while dealing with the neurological changes that occur after the resistance bands are removed. The body will feel unnaturally light for a period of two or three minutes, and during this time, athletes will need to work to drive the knees and keep the limbs under control without slowing down.
Conditioning Drills: Final Notes
Conditioning drills and cone drills like these target agility and should be incorporated into any training program designed to generate fast feet and body control during rapid direction changes. For best results, athletes and coaches should vary this drill with a long list of alternative cone drills available on the Kbands Training.com website.
Varying a footwork training program can keep the reflexes sharp and can keep athletes motivated and focused on the unique demands of each individual drill. Meanwhile, adding and removing the resistance of the Kbands can train the body to stay balanced and centered as the hip flexors increase in strength and tone. Visit Kbands Training.com for more training resources and additional information about the Kbands, KB Powerbands, and KB Duo Suspension training system. Versatile training tools like these can be set up anywhere and can help both athletes and coaches take their agility and performance goals to the next level.