Three years ago, even football fanatics knew Nnamdi Asomugha only as "the guy with the unpronounceable name." But since his 2006 breakout campaign, which earned the Oakland Raiders CB a Pro Bowl invitation, Nnamdi has became synonymous with "shutdown," "franchise player" and— in a strictly unofficial translation from Yoruba—"defender who makes quarterbacks quiver." Nnamdi's rise to stardom can be partially attributed to an emphasis on proper speed technique and flawless footwork.
According to an old football adage, you can't teach speed. True, it is difficult to learn the overrated point-A-to point-B speed; but acquiring DB-specific movements that require fast change-of-direction bursts is easier. "Speed is just an added bonus," Asomugha says. "If you've got all the speed in the world, but you don't have the mental discipline to stay focused and remain in your technique, your speed isn't going to matter."
To train disciplined DB speed, Asomugha incorporates the following mini routine into his regimen twice a week. Use it to make a name for yourself on the gridiron.
DB Awareness Drill
• Place four cones or speed discs five yards apart in a square
• Starting at Cone 1, sprint to Cone 2
• Backpedal from Cone 2 to Cone 3
• Sprint from Cone 3 to Cone 4
• Backpedal from Cone 4 to Cone 1
• Finish by sprinting from Cone 1 through Cone 4
Sets: 2-3 with minimal rest time
Adaptation: Move the cones closer together or farther apart
Coaching Points: Perform at full speed // Be aware of cones during drill; if you hit one, start over // Maintain proper backpedaling technique; if you stand up or lean back during backpedal, start over // Look forward and keep head up
• Starting at goal line, sprint forward 10 yards
• Plant on right foot, then backpedal five yards
• Sprint forward 10 yards
• Plant on left foot, then backpedal five yards
• Continue pattern with alternate foot plants until reaching 50-yard line
Sets/Reps: 2x1 with full recovery
Coaching Points: Stay low and avoid standing up during breaks // Use as few steps as possible to cover ground during sprint and backpedal
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