Football’s intensity is no secret. It’s a hard-nosed game that requires a lot of physical strength and endurance, and players need to make sure they are properly warmed up and ready for competition before they take the field.
To get your feet loosened up and change-of-direction skills ready, look to agility drills as efficient warmup exercises. Heads Up Football founding member Chris Merritt recommends four drills that utilize step-over dummies to help get the team’s engines hot and serve as excellent ways to start off a practice.
To set up these drills, lay out five or six step-over dummy bags in a row running parallel to one another. Think of each pad as a rung on a ladder, with enough room between them to step and maneuver. You can also place cones a few yards from the first and last pads to serve as start and finish lines.
The first exercise in this set of bag drills calls for players to high-knee through the bags and place one foot in each space between the dummies.
“On my command, players are going to take off, they’re going to attack the bags and put one foot between each bag working on getting their feet up and their knees high,” says Merritt, who has 25 years of coaching experience.
Players should explode off of the last bag and sprint through the cone at the end of the line, prepping themselves to get turned around for the next drill or exercise.
In the next bag drill, players should progress to putting two feet in each space, starting with the right foot. The motion of this exercise will still require players to high-knee through the bags, but step into those spaces, right foot first. It can be a little confusing to newcomers, so remind them to take their time and control their pace through the drill so that they don’t wind up getting ahead of themselves.
The next drill is called the Bunny Hop. For this exercise, players will attack the first dummy and then perform a two-footed hop in between the proceeding spaces. Some players might lose their balance, so remember to focus and maintain control with an appropriate pace.
The final bag drill Merritt uses for this set of warmups integrates lateral movement to the motion. Players should run up to the left end of the first dummy, shuffle through the space to the other side and serpentine through the remaining bags. “You can put your hands down on the dummies to navigate yourself,” Merritt says.
With these exercises at your disposal, you can enhance your warmup routine with a wider variety of steps and stretches. Lay out your bags, fall in line and start your football practice on the right foot with these agility drills.
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