By Nolan Kowal, Sport Performance Specialist

Welcome to Part II of our Need for Speed Blog. Hopefully, you have been working on your linear speed drills to improve your acceleration and top end straight ahead speed.

Today, we are going to talk about the other aspects of speed that help athletes react to plays, move in multiple directions quickly and efficiently in combination with acceleration, deceleration and running. We call the combination of all these components of speed game speed.

As we discussed last time, lateral speed and quickness consists of change of direction (a predefined pattern of movement that includes moving in one direction, stopping, changing direction and moving in another direction as quickly as possible) and agility (moving in different patterns and directions quickly and efficiently while reacting to an opponent or another stimulus (ball, puck, etc.).

Typically, we start our younger athletes with change of direction drills so we can teach them the proper technique, stance, and angles to produce force and move quickly and efficiently. Here is a sample progression of drills we would have our athletes do to improve their ability to change directions:

Shuffle Step – Single

Crossover Step – Single

Shuffle Step – Double

Crossover Step – Double

The drills above work on producing force into the ground with positive shin angles in athletic positions without changing direction.

5m Lateral Line Shuffle

2m Shuffle Change of Direction to Sprint

2m Crossover Change of Direction to Sprint

Shuffle to Diagonal Crossover Forward

Shuffle to Diagonal Crossover Backward

The drills above work on accelerating, decelerating, stopping, and changing directions quickly and efficiently with good shin angles in athletic positions.

As we progress through change of direction drills, we start to incorporate a reaction component to the drills to make them more agility focused.  We will use a variety of tools for our agility drills including voice, visual, racquetballs or lacrosse balls and of course other athletes.

It is important to introduce game like components into a training program so athletes can improve in those areas. If all we did was change of direction drills in a defined space, the reaction component of their sport would be missed and likely would not get better. Our goal is to carry our off-field, off-court, off-ice training into game situations to help develop those abilities in high tempo settings.

Here is a sample progression of drills to improve agility:

Athletic Base 45 Degree Pivot Callouts

Athletic Base 90 Degree Pivot Callouts

Athletic Base 45 Degree Pivot with Shuffle Callouts

Athletic Base 90 Degree Pivot with Crossover Callouts

3 Cone Callouts

5 Cone Reaction Lateral


As athletes get comfortable with performing these drills in confined spaces, we start to do more reactionary drills in bigger spaces and include more movement patterns eventually getting into small area games with added degrees of chaos to make them more game-like.

Through out this 2 part series we have shown you several drills to help you improve your game speed. It is important to understand that you should not do every one of these drills in your training sessions. Try to progress from simple to more complex over time while also working on the other areas of a complete training program (strength, power, endurance, moblity, etc.).

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