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AFM Magazine

Speed Report: Football Movement Training – Complete Before the Season

by: Dale Baskett
Football Speed Specialist
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Many sports require a variety of movement and speed changes. However, football has a greater challenge performance-wise than other sports due to the immense contact that is a part of the game. Other sports don’t endure the physicality like football.

Good movement control is the backbone of football speed. What marks outstanding skill performance is not solely the level of an athlete’s talent but the level of movement skill ability that accompanies the athlete’s natural ability. Every athlete on your team can and should develop quality movement skills, regardless of their talent level.
Movement Training and Football
The key to this topic is that movement speed can be directed toward any given sport. We must not totally buy into the concept that we must be working on exact and specific position movements all the time. If we do, we might be missing the mark for the term multi–dimensional. Multi can be construed as being many or several. We should be careful when looking at football movement skills as sometimes specific and other times beyond the norm.

Movement patterns can vary due to a multitude of factors. First, replicating all movement combinations in football would be an impossible task, even for the best coaches. One of the keys to developing football movement lies in the way skills are taught.

Skills are learned by learning the rules of how the body functions during the performance of any given movement. The athlete must be focused mentally and deeply tuned in to his body movement as he executes displacement changes. Whenever a new movement is applied, conscious awareness must be the main focus point. At the precise moment of transition of a movement change, the athlete’s mind is recording all body movement. Many times athletes are focused on getting to point B, and fail to be aware of the body motion positions as they occur. Having recall capability is a very important factor to teach your athletes.
How Do You Know What’s Important

When evaluating what you see with a drill designed for movement execution, you must look not only at the speed of movement but also its efficiency and effectiveness. The ultimate test is the ability of a player to perform the skills of the game at a rapidly high velocity while executing control. Although speed and agility are crucial elements in a movement training program, they can’t be considered successful unless they directly enhance football performance. Mechanical effectiveness should always be an overriding factor on each movement transition applied.

Unless you know what you’re looking at, you’re just hoping that if they run through a designed pattern over and over, their skills will improve. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s going to happen. They will memorize the objective pattern you keep running them through unless you change it. The movement patterns we like to emulate are not always the same. Therefore, you must strive to create constant diversification patterns outside the normal movements we feel are correct for every position played.
Agility Stations and Circuits

Coaches have a tendency to run circuit agilities from station to station. This type of set-up processes numbers and keeps the players moving. Some say it’s a great warm-up series before the athletes hit the field. This type of movement training can become more of a conditioning series than zeroing in on teaching movement patterns. Whatever movements the  athletes  go through biomechanically are psychomotor recorded and will stick like glue. We must build motor patterns that are precise to the effectiveness of transition speed.

Movement patterns are best learned by a slow-to-fast teaching progression. Teach the skill positions desired at slow controllable speeds and then proceed to increase the speed of the drill weekly. This allows for solid motor imprints to be recorded and reviewed accurately. If your athletes run at 100% intensity without the positions of body angles in place, the learning curve is accelerated beyond the control of good execution. The focus of a good movement program needs to center on progressing the skill demand and speed step-by-step.

Coaches should be aware of the fact that as the circuits revolve by stations, the athletes are beginning to get tired. At this point, the aerobic energy system begins to cut in and the anaerobic energy system is gone. This simply means you are now giving up high twitch training and merely adapting the contraction properties to fire at lower rates of effectiveness. Muscle contraction needs to be at a high quality level when you perform movement skills as well as speed work.
Multi-Dimensional Movement and Your Program
    The end product will be your final measuring stick, but you need to monitor it well during the process. This is so you don’t waste time and then find out later during the season that you should have done it differently in the off-season. Producing players who are able to perform movements in optimal positions and perform football skills fast is what every coach desires.
    The concept of every movement program established should aim at making better athletes who play fast. In the end, the players must be trained to get to a level where they no longer have to pay as much attention to conscious thought Instead, they see and automatically move rapidly and the movements are with velocity and control.

Here are several training points that will enhance your off season movement skills before the season begins:
LINE TO STRIKE POSITIONING  - Your leg, upper body, and head must be aligned at all times during any running activity. Each foot strike must be slightly in front of the LINE on each step, including all plants taken.

See it done right before you do it.

VELOCITY DISPLACEMENT - Whenever you apply a direction change of any type, the elbows must remain in close to the torso during this phase so the limb rotation will not decelerate. This causes a loss of transition speed.


•  Eye positioning should be level and forward during lineal and movement displacements. This will stabilize alignment positioning.

•  When planting to change direction, watch for breaks in the alignment at the waist.

•  Upper torso stays aligned over the foot strike placement steps during movement changes.

•  During lateral running applications, athletes must keep hips up.

MULTI–MOVEMENT CHANGES – Apply varying frequencies and movement changes during the course of the same drill. Be sure that the last phase or section of any drill performed is always executed well.  Players have a tendency to shut down early, automatically.

Coach Baskett began his career as a football speed coach in 1979. During the last 35 years he’s consulted and trained hundreds of coaches and thousands of athletes nationwide. In the last year he has worked directly with high schools in California, Texas, Minnesota, Kansas, and Pennsylvania. Over the last few years he has also consulted with Texas Tech, Ohio State, USC, University of Washington, and the University of Mount Union. You can reach him directly for more information or if you have specific questions on your training program. Coach Baskett is at and 858-568-3751.


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