Whether you’re on a field, diamond, court or frozen pond, you must be able to move backward as fluidly and as quickly as you move forward. To improve backpedaling skills, STACK spoke with strength and conditioning coaches Tom Shaw and John Krasinski for advice that can help you back into a future scholarship.
Tom Shaw, founder of Tom Shaw Performance Enhancement, has worked with 85 first-round NFL Draft picks
John Krasinski, Cal football strength and conditioning coach, counts NFLers Marshawn Lynch, Nnamdi Asomugha and J.J. Arrington among his clients
Shaw says, “I think the big thing with young athletes when they backpedal is they raise up. Once they raise up out of their stance, [then] in order to get back into an acceleration position, [they] have to drop back down.” Below, Shaw and Krasinski offer six tips to improve your backpedaling drills.
Use short quick steps
Krasinski: Avoid picking your feet up too high. Keeping your feet close to the ground will help you change direction quickly.
Keep a level head
Shaw: Maintain your head at the same level while backpedaling; keep your nose over your toes so you can turn and run smoothly. It’s important to accelerate and explode forward at the same backpedaling level.
Chest over thighs
Krasinski: Keep your chest over your thighs with arms bent 90 degrees, and use quick short arm motions.
Bend the knees
Krasinski: Most of the kick comes from the knee down, so it’s desirable to have a lot of knee bend.
Shaw: Avoid standing tall when backpedaling. When your body is fatigued, it’s natural to raise up, but successful reverse running requires staying low and using short strides.
Practice at game speed
Krasinski: When performing backpedaling drills in practice, it’s important to go full speed, because it conditions and strengthens your body to stay in correct form when it’s late in the game and you’re tired.