How to Decide the Length of a Drill

I often see coaches perform “Quickness” drills for way too long with their athletes. And, they wonder why their athletes don’t “get the explosive laser-like speed”.

Simple drills, such as line drills, dot drills, ladder drills, box drills, etc. are excellent ways to train the neuromuscular system to adapt to faster speeds. The propriceptive system learns to handle faster stimuli.

The great thing about these quickness drills is they are fantastic for lead up or primer skills for the much larger skills such as cutting, change of direction, lateral acceleration and deceleration, split steps and so on. If we organize our athletes thought process as to how these quick drills are helping a much grander skill, then it matters more to them because there is a meaning to the drill.

The issue I constantly see is coaches doing these type of “quickness” drills for 15-30 seconds or longer. Obviously, they don’t understand energy system demand and the ability to stay at optimal neuromuscular levels. Going too long with a drill only trains sloppy performance with drills that need precision. If coaches want to condition, then do something different like shuttles, intervals, bike work, etc.

Coaches have been wrongly programmed for so long that if we are not “tough” on our athletes and we don’t stress them to the point of vomiting, then we are not being a good coach. SORRY! But we have this all wrong. Being a good coach is knowing your craft and understanding how to get a result.

Last week I was in Denver training Jimmer Fredette. I had him perform 12 sets of an explosive drill that lasted roughly 2.5 seconds. Why? I am trying to make change in something that makes a huge difference in his performance. He needed to be precise in his body position and footwork. It was amazing to see him go from 3.5 seconds to 2.5 seconds and that is a long ways when you play in the NBA. So, why wouldn’t I do this with young kids and older athletes alike?

There is a time and a place for conditioning, but not when you want to make athletes explosively quick. Explain what drill, why the drill, time frames and your athletes will go all out for you. However, if you tell them to simple “go” until you say “stop”, then you are having them work for long periods of times and you just wasted a chance to make change!

For more strategies on becoming a great speed coach, check out Ground Breaking 2