Part II - Fast Feet
Having fast feet is essential for almost any sport. The ability to stay light on one's feet and recover balance quickly can make all the difference in a game situation. As mentioned in Part I, specificity is of the utmost importance, thus as a coach you must strive to make the drills mimic the sport as closely as possible.
As with any physical activity, it is absolutely essential to make sure your athletes are properly warmed up. This involves taking them through progressive activities to increase their heart rate, core temperature, and improve proprioceptive connections. Below is an example of a basic comprehensive warm up for a fast feet work out.
*5 minute jog
*Dynamic stretching of all major joints in body
*2 X 100m strides
*2 X 100m sprint at 75%
*Fast, high knees for 20 seconds
*"Butt kicks" for 20 seconds
*"Pawing" for 20 seconds (knee high, to leg extension, swinging ball of foot to paw at ground)
*Calf raises (20 reps explosively)
**Please note the following drills require a certain level of muscle conditioning and flexibility to avoid injury to the athlete
Fast Feet Interval
From a jogging pace, have your athletes increase their stride frequency to a maximum for a 10 metre space. The idea is to do as many foot plants as possible in this space while keeping perfect form (high knees, ideal arm swing, staying on balls of feet). After the 10 metre space, the athlete returns to a jogging pace for the next 10-15 metres, then repeats the circuit for a total of 5 times. Important points to stress include, but are not limited to the following: keep the legs in front of the body, stay tall, rapid foot turnover, and keep knees high.
Down and Offs
The purpose of this drill is to decrease the amount of time the foot spends on the ground during a sprint. From a high knee position, have the athlete drive their foot down explosively. As soon as the foot hits the ground, it should rebound up immediately back to the high knee po
There are different apparatuses available to aid this drill such as microhurdles, agility ladders, etc, yet all that is needed is something to lay on the ground approximately 8-10 inches apart from each other in a ladder formation. The sequences of foot plants are up to the imagination. You can have the athlete sprint through the ladder, hop-scotch through the ladder, one-foot-hops through the ladder, or double-foot-plant in each space of the ladder. The possibilities are governed only by your creativity. Ensure proper form and explosiveness of the feet. Have the "ladder" consist of at least 15 rungs. Repeat for 4 sets, resting only the time it takes to walk back along the ladder to the original starting position.
One-Legged Hurdle Hops
Using a shoe, stapler, microhurdle, or cone, have the athlete stand beside the object on one foot. Instruct the athlete to hop either sideways, or forward and backward over the object while remaining on one foot. Emphasize speed of movement and balance. Be sure to perform this drill on a safe surface, as there is chance for ankle injuries. Continue the drill for about 20 seconds, and then allow the athlete to actively rest for 1 minute before repeating 3-4 more times.
Forward and Back
Using the object from the previous drill, have the athlete stand facing the apparatus in ready position. Instruct the athlete to step over and back the object (right foot over, left foot over, right foot back, left foot back, repeat) as quickly as possible, keeping feet only as high as they need to be to clear the object. Emphasize tall form and balance. Perform the drill for 20-30 seconds, resting for 1 minute, and repeating for 5 sets.
As with Part I, these drills require a high level of athleticism and can thus be dangerous to the malconditioned athlete. Ensure the athletes are properly warmed up, and the drills are subsequently followed by a thorough cool down and stretching program.