Six Football Drills to Increase Your Speed
Want to get fast, fast? No matter what position you play, follow pro trainer Tracy Ford’s football drills to increase your speed to an elite level.
In football, no matter the position, speed is always an advantage. Fastest to the tackle, fastest to intercept the ball, fastest to reach the end zone, fastest to rack up the points before the final whistle. Developing speed for football takes more than just sprint training—the foundation is built with a blend of strength and tactical conditioning exercises that simulate real game situations.
"No matter what position that you play, if you can’t run, it’s not going to be no fun. But if we can't transition that and go left, right, forward and backward, then we'll never really be a great football player,” said Tracy Ford, CEO of Ford Sports Performance in Bellevue, Washington. Ford has trained high schoolers for Elite 7x7 teams all the way up to NFL athletes, and has made his name in creating unique training programs that directly correlate to skills on the field. “How we do things here at Ford Sports Performance is we got to make sure that we get all facets of the game of football,” said Ford. “That’s linear speed, change of direction, plyometrics, and strength. Those four things are key factors in order to make yourself the best football player possible.”
Ford stresses that all these skills can’t be worked in one day, and at FSP they take a four-day approach, training different aspects of speed like linear, change of direction, and explosiveness throughout the week.
Below are six fundamental football drills for speed that incorporate the linear speed, change of direction, and plyometric strength needed to create an athletic powerhouse. These are not meant to be done in one session, instead focused on throughout the week to give your body time to recover and come back faster than before.
Six Football Drills to Increase Your Speed
Note on equipment: These drills show special equipment that everyone might not have access to. In each case, use what you have available to achieve the same goal. For example, if you don’t have hurdles, use cones or something else that will encourage you to jump over a certain height.
Drill 01: CHANGE OF DIRECTION CONDITIONING
Focus: Rarely are you running in a continuous linear line in a game, so this drill teaches you how to stay fast through multiple changes of direction.
Equipment Set-Up: You’ll need three cones and four mini hurdles (or cones). Set the mini hurdles up in about a 2 ft. by 2 ft. square. Set the three cones up in an “L” shape about 5 yards in front of the box, with about 5 yards in between each cone.
- Quickly step feet over the hurdles from the bottom, left, right, top.
- Sprint to the outside cone, bend around, head to the inside cone.
- Drop hips to weave toward the top cone.
- Swerve around and sprint home.
Drill 02: MINI HURDLE CHANGE OF DIRECTION
Focus: Increase footspeed and dynamic acceleration. Offensive players should run the drill forwards, while defensive players should run the drill forwards and backwards.
Equipment Set-Up: You’ll need four mini hurdles (or cones), and two more cones. Set up the mini hurdles in a line side by side, about a foot apart. Set up the two cones about 5 yards in front of the hurdles, with about 8 yards in between them.
- Starting on one side of the hurdles, run them laterally down and back.
- After the hurdles, plant your foot and sprint to the first cone.
- Turn around the cone to change direction and sprint to the last cone.
- Option to catch a football at the end to simulate a game scenario and keep your speed up.
Drill 03: DEPTH DROP HURDLE HOPS
Focus: Explosive power and quickness off the ground to be able to run faster.
Equipment Set-Up: You’ll need six hurdles, or tall cones, and two 12” boxes. Set them up in a straight line, with one box at the beginning, three hurdles, the next box and the three hurdles after that.
- Begin standing on the box. Drop off the box with one foot leading.
- Jump off both feet over each hurdle.
- Reset at the next box and repeat the movement with the remaining hurdles, this time leading with the other foot.
- Aim for maximum height and quickness over every hurdle.
Drill 04: RESISTANCE BAND “A” MARCHES
Focus: Teaches the optimal position to drive force into the ground and gain distance.
Equipment Set-Up: Loop a resistance band around your waist, or use a belt with a resistance band attached. Have someone stand behind you to hold the resistance band.
- Lean forward with your core and hips engaged.
- As you walk forward, lift each foot high and drive into the ground to gain distance.
- Start slow, then try a faster pace, maintaining form.
Drill 05: BARBELL TRIPLE EXTENSION PRESS
Focus: First-step triple extension creates maximum power, and this exercise develops the triple extension movement in each leg.
Equipment Set-Up: In a squat rack, hang two suspension bands off the top rack. Set a bar through the loops of the band so that you can swing the bar out and back. Alternatively, you can get the same results by throwing a medicine ball at a wall. The movement is in the legs no matter which setup you use.
- Start in an athletic position with your hands on the bar and one foot raised behind you.
- Keeping your core engaged, push off the standing leg, driving your lifted knee up as you push the bar forward.
- Use hips and lifted leg to generate force.
- Slowly return to starting position and repeat.
Drill 06: SINGLE ARM BARBELL PRESS
Focus: Further develops the triple extension movement, creating an explosive first step and strong strike point.
Equipment Set-Up: Use a landmine barbell or set a barbell against a wall with a plate on the upper end.
- Start in a split squat position, holding the barbell at shoulder height with one hand on the same side as the lead leg.
- Jump to switch legs and push the barbell up, exploding off your legs.
- Stabilize and return to starting position.
- Keep core engaged and focus on power in legs.
As Ford puts it, “no matter what position you play, if you can’t run, it’s going to be no fun. Whether you’re a lineman, linebacker, wide receiver, running back—whatever it may be, incorporate these drills into your everyday game. Because if you don’t have it, man, slow feet don’t eat.” Take these football speed training tips into your routine, and you’ll start to notice a difference in how you play the game. Download the infographic to save these drills on your phone, and for more athletic training programs, visit the adidas blog for fresh inspiration.
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