Developing speed and the ability for players to change direction quickly has gained importance as the game has moved to being all about creating and exploiting space. Because the game is now so dependent on being able to play in space, it puts even more weight on the ability of players to operate in space. A way to develop these skills, while also improving conditioning, is through a series of cone drills. What makes this set of drills great is that they only require 5-7 cones per group and each group can have 10 players going at once.
Cone Drills for Youth Football
The setup of the drill is very simple. As shown above the cones are spaced out over a 7 yard distance. The key element here is that players will finish through a line. This gives players a very clear starting point and finishing point. If they stop before they cross the line it’s easy to have them do a quick corrective exercise. The drills are easy to setup and monitor so you can have as many of them going at once as you need. This means there are very few players resting and more players are getting reps.
For the first segment players will run through the box. Here it’s important to focus the players on mastering the little things. This includes making cuts on their outside foot and not rounding corners. As players finish on the cone opposite of where they started they will set their line to the inside of the cone. Once the last member of their group goes through they will step back outside of the first cone and do the drill in reverse.
The second pattern is the same as the first but will add some hip turns and lateral movement to get players used to changing their hips. Players will start running forward but when they get to the second cone they will flip their hips so they are shuffling facing the cone they started on. When they get to the third cone they will sprint through the line. Once they have completed it one way they will do it in reverse to return to their original starting point.
The next pattern they will run is the star pattern. There will be an added cone in the middle on this drill. For this they will start by running directly at the middle cone. When they get to the middle cone they will plant off their outside foot and go to the top corner cone. When they get to the corner cones they will sink their hips and get around the cone instead of planting their feet. This lets them work on different cuts all within one drill.
The last pattern they will run will be to run the chair. For this pattern the coach will need to add extend the box by adding one cone on each side. On this pattern they will start the drill similar to the first pattern. The only difference is when they get to the end of the horizontal segment at the top they will flip their hips and backpedal to the top of the chair. Once they reach the top of the chair they need to drop their hips and finish the drill in a sprint.
These are the four most common patterns of running that we use but the combinations are endless. The major thing you want from the players is that they are working on making cuts and accelerating between the cones. An added benefit is that players have to think on the fly and adapt to different patterns that are thrown out to them. This forces them to listen and make adjustments when they are tired.
(See Also) The L Drill for Speed and Agility