Running back drills: How to develop yourself into a top tier running back

Photo credit: Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The sport of football requires a ton of commitment and dedication but if you’re willing to work hard anything is possible. One of the toughest positions to play in football is the running back position because it takes instincts, fast twitch muscles, and great vision. While instincts and vision come with repetition, the fast twitch muscle side of the position can be developed by doing specific drills that strengthen the muscle fascia in the hamstrings, quads, calves, calcaneus region, and the rest of the foot. By practicing these particular running back drills you can teach your muscles to recruit more fibers which will actually make an athlete more explosive. So when you’re coach says you can’t teach speed, tell them that’s untrue and explain to them the science you have learned in this article!

5 cone drill

This drill is great because it teaches your thighs to switch directions and fire explosively. You start out by lining five cones up in a straight line all about 2 and half yards apart. You then stand next to your straight line of cones and then run to the first cone and then back peddle back to the starting cone. The runner then runs to the second cone and back peddles to the starting cone. The runner then sprints the 3rd cone and then back peddles to the starting point. The drill is continued on to the 4th cone and finally the 5th cone. By the time you hit the 5th cone then back peddle to the starting point and then sprint through to finish the drill, you’re quads and hamstrings are usually on fire. That is the lactic acid building up in your muscles letting you know that the hard work you’re putting in is paying off! This drill is great when you have 2 lines of athletes on each side of the cone who race against against each other. It pushes each athlete to do the drill quickly but coaches should emphasize that good technique is maintained.

4 corner cone drill

In the second running back drill you line up 4 cones in a perfect square. You should start at one cone and then back peddle down the outside of 1 of the square’s sides. Once you hit the first corner you then carioca quick step down the 2nd side of the square. Eventually you will hit the 3rd cone and you sprint forward to the 4th cone. On the last side you shuffle your feet being careful not to cross them. You should also keep your palms up like you’re playing basketball defense. At the end of the 4th side you finish the drill exactly where you started and the next athlete in line begins.

M drill

For the M drill you line up 5 cones in a line. You start at the first cone and back peddle 3 or 4 steps. After those steps are completed you form a t step with your feet (plant your feet so they look like the letter t) and drive off your back foot towards the second cone in line. Eventually you back peddle at that cone and then t step to the 3 cone, so on and so forth. This drill teaches your muscles to respond quickly to changes of direction and helps running backs develop a faster muscle twitch.

Power lifting

Squats, power cleans, and dead lifts will all help strengthen a running backs legs as well. If you can combine the drill work above, plyometrics, and power lifting you really give yourself a chance outwork the competition. Leg press and lounges are other leg work outs that could also provide some success too.

Overall these running back drills will get you a step closer to playing winning football. You should try to do these drills as often as possible. Some Athletes even do them 7 days a week!

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