The Best Way to Train Footwork For Athletes
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a large wave of guys coming in and focusing on footwork. It’s beautiful. I love their coaching style. I love what they’re doing. I’ve even talked with many of them. With that, I’ve had a lot of athletes start to ask me:
“How do I get a quicker first step?”
“How do I get better agility?”
“How do I get faster feet?”
The most important thing for you as an athlete to get faster feet is more about learning the technique of your sport. AND having the balance and leverage needed to stay stable OVER a faster step.
Once you nail this down, the faster feet will come.
I’m noticing with this is that a lot of young athletes are doing a lot more ladder drills and mimic these coaches with the quick feet. They’re trying to skip all the “boring” work.
But, what these athletes don’t realize is that there are many cases of athletes being “slower” and having the ability to outwork a traditionally faster player.
For example, there are many cornerbacks who DON’T have elite 40 times… But, they’re able to put the clamps on guys who run 4.38 40s. How?
Let’s find out below:
The 3 Most Important Factors in Getting Faster Footwork
In the example of the traditionally “slower” corner putting the clamps on a faster receiver, there are three things he must have.
First, he must have technique specific to his sport.
That means he must master his body positioning in relation to his opponents position. If the cornerback gets his feet crossed, or he missteps, the receiver will beat him. It takes repeated drilling with solid technique to get to a point where great technique is second nature and the athlete can focus on the task at hand.
In another example, think of a defender in basketball. The offensive player is trying to get an edge on him to drive to the cup. The offensive player will try to cross him up, or explode past the defender. If the defender’s feet get to close together, or he lacks the ability to open up his defensive stance at the appropriate time… The defender will end up on the floor, or he’ll be in for a Jalen Rose-esque night.
Next, the athlete must have balance.
Let’s go back to the example of the basketball defender. The goal of the offensive player is to get the defender to stumble so the offensive player can gain an advantage. If the defender lacks balance, this goal will be easy to achieve.
Same with the example of the cornerback.
Finally, the athlete needs stability/positioning.
This factor has to do with the athlete placing himself in the most advantageous positions.
In the example of the basketball defender, we know that if he’s standing straight up, he won’t have a chance at locking down an offensive player. But, if he’s in an athletic stance with his feet outside of hip width, he’ll have more stability. He’ll also be able to move more quickly.
More than just positioning, the athlete needs the balance AND stability to stay in these positions.
A lot of the stability comes down to core stability. This is very easy to train, and will greatly help your efforts at more agility and faster feet.
Putting the 3 Factors of Fast Feet Into Practice
So, now the question is, how do we ground all of this theory into practice.
First, when it comes to technique, that’s your skill work. Honing your craft. Sharpening your sword. It’s up to you to get out there and put in the time to developing better technique.
Whether you’re a basketball player who needs to work on defense. A tennis player who needs to get better at maneuvering around the court. Or a football cornerback who needs to learn better defensive technique… There’s no ladder drill that is going to help you get better at that.
As far as balance and stability goes, there are exercises I can prescribe you that will serve you well. Let’s get into them below:
3 Balance Exercises for Agility and Kinesthetic Awareness
1. Single Leg Toe Touch
- Begin balanced on one leg with the knee slightly bent
- With the arm opposite the foot on the ground, hinge at the hips and bend the knee slightly
- Touch your opposite hand to your opposite foot and come back up
- Repeat on both sides
2. Single Leg Cone Drill w/ Foam Pad
- Begin balanced on one leg with a foam pad under your foot. This will create an unstable surface
- Arc five cones around the foam pad
- Hinge the hips back, bend the knee slightly, and touch the hand opposite the foot that’s on the ground to each cone
- Once you’ve touched every cone going in both directions, switch legs
3. Bosu Ball Reverse Lunge
- Stand on a bosu ball with both legs
- Reach back with one leg, keeping your weight on your front leg
- Push off the front leg and come back to standing
- Repeat on other side
3 Core Stability Exercises for Better Positioning and Agility
1. Banded March
- Begin with a band around your shoulder
- Lift your elbow up to shoulder level and keep it bent at 90 degrees
- Have your partner grab the band
- Bend your knees slightly, push your hips back and march backwards
- As you march, fight the urge to rotate
- When you reach your desired distance, switch sides
2. Seated Dead Bug
- Begin on your butt, heels on the ground, knees slightly bent
- Pick your chest up and lean back slightly with your arms straight up in the air by your ears
- Reach one hand to your knee, come back up, and switch
3. Seated Twist
- Begin on your butt, heels on the ground, knees slightly bent
- Pick your chest up, hands slightly below your chest, and elbows flared out
- Keeping your chest up, rotate your elbows towards the ground for the desired reps
A Crucial Lesson for Serious Athletes
If there’s anything to be learned from this whole post, it’s that the real results lie in the fundamental pillars of performance.
Dashing through ladders, dancing through hoops, curling around cones – there’s a time and place for that. And doing that stuff at the wrong time won’t deliver results.
True results come from progressing the fundamentals…
Whether you want faster feet. Quickness. Change of direction. Or better instincts.
And you can find those powerful fundamentals inside of my new agility system: GAME SPEED.
Over the past weeks, hundreds of athletes have poured into GAME SPEED to become quicker, more explosive, and faster on the field.
Are you ready to join them?
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