The ability to change direction quickly in the game of football is a critical skill. Regardless of the position in today’s game, all players must have the ability to change direction quickly. As a result it’s critical that, as coaches, we develop this skill and make sure that players have the body awareness of how to change direction in an efficient manner. The Pattern Running Change of Direction Drill is the best way to teach players how to efficiently change direction and accelerate out of the cut.
Pattern Running Change of Direction Drill
The setup of the drill is very simple. There are two different patterns, one with 90 degree turns and one with 45 degree turns. Each of these patterns is going to emphasize different cuts that players will need to make throughout a game. By having two different lines as a coach you can have up to 20 players going at once (10 in each line). This makes it a great drill if you happen to be short on coaches. If you have an abundance of coaches and not many players you can have them go in one line at a time. Either way there are a few critical coaching points you should be looking for.
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In both patterns it is critical to emphasize the details and make sure players are getting better during the drill and not just trying to get through the drill. The first thing that I emphasize is finishing through the line. All players must accelerate through the line. If they let up early I will say their name and they know they have 10 push-ups and there is no debate about it. Players catch on very quickly especially when you emphasize that a critical part of the drill is teaching them how to accelerate out of a break. The other critical coaching point is that players should always be cutting off of their outside foot. This seems like something that would come naturally but many players will cut off their inside foot without realizing it. Once you make them aware of it they will begin to feel it and can give themselves feedback.
Within each pattern there are a couple of key coaching points. For the 90 degree pattern players are really work on dropping their hips to make cuts. Due to the nature of the cut, players must drop their hips and speed up their feet. Younger players tend to struggle to understand that by dropping their hips they can change direction quicker so it must be stressed early in the drill.
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For the 45 degree pattern players will be working on a different type of cut. Instead of dropping their hips players will be making a single foot cut. On these one foot cuts players need to be exploding off of the foot and pushing through their ankle to change direction.