Whether you are a running back who wants better juke or a basketball player who wants to put the tongs on the line-up, change of direction is a key role in athletic success. But I want to clear things up on which direction change drills are best for athletes.
What are the best change of direction drills for athletes?
Simple exercises reproducing the fundamental movements of sport. If you can master them, you will see a significant transfer from your training to the sport.
The 5 best change of direction drills for athletes are:
- Hops in lateral line
- The Shuffle Side Shuttle
- Wide side jump
- Side-cone hop
- 90 degree wide leg jump
Let's get into the sauce behind these change of direction exercises and how to perform them:
1. Lateral line jumps
One of the most important abilities you should have when it comes to changing direction is ankle inversion and eversion. Both of these functions will affect your ability to push sideways on the ground and absorb force while minimizing your risk of injury.
Lateral line jumps are a great exercise for improving the inversion / eversion of the foot, and it is easy to progress. Once you have mastered the two-legged in-line jumps, you can move on to single leg. You can also increase or increase the jump distance depending on your ability level.
The rest of the direction change moves I'll be sharing will also be versatile and easy to progress.
Here's how to perform side line breaks:
- Find a line
- Start with both feet on one side of the line, knees slightly bent, center of gravity on the line
- Start the clock and jump on the line without moving forward or backward
- Try to keep the jump distances uniform
- Get as many jumps as possible before time runs out
- Progress to a higher leg or jump as you master this movement
2. Side shuffle Shuffle
Another critical ability when it comes to changing direction is hip abduction and adduction. Again, this plays a role in your ability to powerfully push the ground sideways and absorb the force safely. The lateral shuffle shuttle is a great movement to develop this ability while developing good footwork.
You can easily advance this movement by adding a responsive component.
Here's how to perform the Shuffle Side Shuttle:
- Place three cones in a line 2.5 meters apart
- Get into an athletic stance straddling the extended central cone
- Push your back leg towards one of the cones
- Cut off your feet as you approach the cone and change direction
- Strongly push your back leg towards the furthest cone
- Decelerate and cut your feet on the approach
- End with the middle cone
3. Wide side jump
The wide side jump is one of my fundamental change of direction movements. This movement allows the athlete to push their back leg sideways, get some fresh air, turn in the air and land forward facing on two feet. It integrates lateral power, body control and force absorption all in one.
As you get better at this move, you can add a responsive component. You will see an example of this side in this listing.
Here's how to perform the wide side jump
- Face a position perpendicular to where you want to land
- Load your back leg
- Push the hip back and bend the knee slightly
- Bring your front leg behind your back leg
- Swing that leg to fly
- In the air, rotate the body to face forward
- Land gently on two feet
4. Side cone hops
Another movement that develops ankle inversion / eversion is the side cone hops. This movement also makes it possible to shorten the damping phase or the ground contact time required to move on to another jump. There is also an element of body control due to the addition of the cones.
This exercise is a great progression for sideline jumps as the elements of body control and ground contact increase the difficulty.
Here's how to perform side cone jumps:
- Install four cones about 12 inches apart in a straight line
- Start at one end of the cones with the knee slightly bent and the hips back
- Jump sideways and hit each cone. Land with the big toe aligned with the top of each cone
- Once you reach the end of the cones, pause for a second, then return to the original cone
- Repeat this twice on each leg, then switch sides
- You can make this movement more difficult by increasing the distance between the cones or eliminating the pause at the end of the cones
5. Single leg wide at 90
This is a more advanced direction change drill, but it brings together all of the previous exercises. The wide single leg at 90 is a responsive jump that forces the athlete to change direction quickly. This movement builds lateral power and works the damping phase to shorten your contact time with the ground.
Here's how to do a single wide leg through the 90s:
- Set up four T-shaped cones
- Start with the cone that makes the bottom of the T
- Perform a wide jump on one leg to the upper central cone
- Once you've made contact with the ground at the top center cone, push sideways to land on one of the far cones.
- Land on two feet
- Perform this on both legs on both sides of the cones
Change of direction of sucking exercises
If I'm honest ...
The change of direction drives SUCK on its own.
You need exercise progressions if you really want to get defenders out of their shoes, become a lockdown defender, or become an overall more lethal athlete in your sport.
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It contains progressions for all agility - from agility exercises to lifting to plyometrics and more.
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Understanding what it takes to becoming a successful athlete, is important. Although, there are millions of factors that contribute to this, so we have put together our top 5 tips to becoming a successful athlete ! The reason behind this article came from an conversation between myself and a young athlete desperate for success. So, hopefully, this article will help similar athletes asking the same type of questions.
First of all, commitment is defined as the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause ( your team ) or activity ( your sport ). Although, commitment isn’t tangible and you can’t quantify it, the levels of commitment are ever changing. So, thats the task, understand what level you need to reach and smash it !
A locker room full of teammates who are willing to work hard and work together every day at practice, even when not under the coach’s eye, is fondamental to having a successful season. Realise that a good teammate doesn’t try to be the best player on the team; they focus on being the best player for the team, though at times this can be difficult – stick with it !
Spending 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after practice working on your game will give you an advantage over the competition. Some players choose to talk about their day while they slowly lace up their shoes, or duck out of practice as quickly as possible. Realise that being different is just one level away from being great. Twenty minutes of additional practice six days in a row adds up to another full practice during your week. Although its more about quality practice rather then quantity of practice, if you are adding 120 more minutes of practice to your week, make sure its worth while !
to become a successful athlete you need to know Your Teammates. How you work with your teammates when things are going wrong, strongly influences how successful you will be. Also influencing how far you will go as an athlete. So, great teammates are positive, supportive, understanding, forgiving and passionate about helping those around them achieve greatness. Learn about your teammates. Enjoy being around them away from practices and games. Sit with different teammates on road trips. Strike up conversations to learn about what motivates them. The time, effort and energy you put into reaching out to your teammates will come back to you many times over. Being a good teammate isn’t a big thing; it’s a million little things, so get sérieux !
Realise that regardless of whether you are playing in a friendly fixture, a tournament, or been invited to international trials, certainly adopt the motion that people are watching. You are a brand, and you want to be seen in a positive light. You have to become a brand worth investing in, because your worth investing in.
Finally, “When you are not getting better, you are getting worse” is a cliché that may intimidate many athletes. Improve just one rep each day, and push yourself outside your comfort zone. If you are lucky enough to be around a coach who pushes you, holds you accountable, and may even be demanding at times, consider it a gift. Although it may be stressful, they probably see something in you that you don’t yet see in yourself.
Stay positive and believe in the process. No successful athlete ever started out that way. They all found it in themselves to make their bad days better and draw confidence from the days when they did well. You are never as bad as your worst day, and you are never as good as your best. Find it in yourself to stay level-headed and hungry to become more for your coaches, teammates, family and yourself.