To become an elite player in American football, one must have perfect footwork. Agility and footwork training are imperative as these skills immensely help between setting up plays, hitting a goal, and stripping a ball from an opponent. Take some inspiration from XFL players’ routines and implement some drills into your workout routine!
Work it out!
American football, similar to hockey and lacrosse, requires a lot of running. It is vital to have strong, agile legs. Here are some footwork drills that you can practice to be a developed and improved player.
1. Jump rope
One of the best agility, stamina building, and footwork exercises is jumping rope. This is included in almost all XFL athlete’s exercise routines. Do 10 rounds with 3 minutes each round and rest for 1 minute in between rounds. Once you get comfortable with the routine, increase the challenge by adding the number of rounds.
There are variations in movements such as:
- Side-to-side movement helps improve lateral quickness, which is often used in football dodging. This is done by jumping over the rope side-to-side.
- Ali shuffle is done by switching the position of the feet while jumping over the rope. This exercise aims to improve the backpedaling skill which is displayed when playing defense.
- Twister is a more complex movement that aims to improve speed and body control. While the upper body stays in a stationary position, the lower body starting from the hips, legs, knees, and toes turn left and right while jumping over the rope.
Another famous drill to increase footwork agility is the use of ladders. There are several exercises done using this medium, such as:
- Single leg forward and backward hops
- Horizontal jumps
- Lateral jumps
It is advised to hold the ball every time this exercise is done. Imitating the game while jumping through these spaces will not only improve footwork but upper body muscles too. It is also important to look forward and not look down on the ladder while doing this exercise.
This exercise can be done either front-to-back or side-to-side. The drill aims to strengthen the leg and hip muscles. Do this in rounds of 10 with 2 minutes each round with a 1-minute interval each round. It is best to hold the stick and raise it as the legs are raised on the step and hold it down when going down the step.
4. Five Cones
This is a great exercise to develop strong and agile footwork – an essential skill of XFL players. This promotes coordination, variation in direction, and body awareness. Set up the 4 four cones making 4 corners of a square. Place the single cone at the center of the square. Start running from the outside of the square and touch each cone.
5. Box Jumps
A hip-high steady box or platform is ideal for this exercise. The focus of this exercise is to land softly on top of the box. The exercise teaches to be light on the feet to be able to cut anytime. The exercise also strengthens leg muscles.
6. Lateral Steps with Resistance
This exercise aims to keep the legs and knees sturdy while playing defense. It also improves lateral body movement. Here are some steps to practice this exercise.
- Place both legs inside a resistance band
- Stand with legs open just right to stretch the rubber band
- Keep both feet flat and toes straight
- Squat a little bit, chest forward, then lift one-foot side step and fully stretch the rubber band
Do 15-20 steps going one direction and another round going the opposite direction.
7. Single-Leg Wall Squats
Quadriceps, buttocks, hip bones, back muscles – you name it… This single exercise is key to balancing the strength of both of your legs, which is essential for a good game. Firstly try this out with a swiss ball only, but feel free to add some dumbells once it gets easy.
- Put a swiss ball between the wall and your lower back
- Keep the pressure in your back and slowly squat down until your thigh is parallel to the ground
- Keep one leg up, get back. Repeat it for a few rounds.
Running is a must in American football. XFL players must have quick feet to be on top of the game, but no professional has come so far without much sweat and hard work in the field. Try out this routine, increase your stamina, and footwork step by step. Once you feel confident enough, try the typical 40-yard sprint, just the one that all XFL players practice.
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