First Step Quickness with Cal Football

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To win the battle in the trenches, every lineman needs to get out of his stance fast. "The guy who can generate more speed in that two-yard gap will win the battle," says John Krasinski, strength and conditioning coach at the University of California. "We do Pause Squats to train that explosive movement from a dead stop, which is something you need coming out of your stance." Here, Krasinski lays out the steps for the Pause Squat, which the Golden Bears use once a week in the off-season.

Pause Squat
• Begin in athletic stance with toes pointing slightly out and bar on back
• Focus on high point on wall in front of you, then squat down with control until thighs and hips are below knees
• Pause for two seconds
• Explosively drive upward into start position

Sets/Reps/Rest time: 8/3/90 seconds

Krasinki's Keys
• Since it's an explosive movement, you don't want so much weight on the bar that it turns into a struggle.
• Keep your chest up and lead with it on the way up.
• After the two-second pause, generate velocity immediately, not gradually.

Progression Speed Ladder
[See diagram for set up]

If you don't have a progression speed ladder, use strips of tape to mark appropriate distances between rungs.


  • Assume football stance at beginning of ladder
  • Run through ladder placing one foot between each rung
  • After sixth rung, explode into 20-yard sprint

Reps/Rest Time: 4/60 seconds

Adaptation: Once you're comfortable performing the drill, take away the ladder and simulate the drill on feel.

Benefit: This teaches you to lengthen your strides as you run. You can't start a car in fourth gear, and it's the same with running. So the ladder teaches athletes to start in first gear steps and progress from there.

Krasinski's Keys
1. Your first step should be short and quick.

2. Don't pop or raise up; maintain a good forward lean without bending.

3. Drive yourself down field by applying as much power and force to the ground as possible.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock