Putting in extra work goes a long way toward improving your football game. By performing just one extra drill specific to your position after practice, you can hone your skills and keep your technique sharp, so you can play your best on game day. You'll gain an edge over your opponents, who don't put in the extra effort and head straight to the locker room after practice.
We spoke with Mark Roozen, owner of Coach Rozy Performance and a former strength coach with the Cleveland Browns, to learn which position-specific drills have been successful for the football players he's worked with.
Offensive Linemen – Sandbag Drops
This exercise is great for improving your footwork, building strength through the shoulders and back, and developing stability through the core.
How to: Starting in a two-point stance, hold a sandbag with both hands and drop into your pass-protection footwork pattern. As you move, punch the bag forward repeatedly, as if you were extending your arms to block a pass.
Reps: 8-12 per drop scheme
Defensive Linemen – Sandbag Grab-N-Throw
This drill develops grip strength and total body power to help you get separation from offensive lineman and bring down the ball carrier.
How to: Get into your defensive stance with a sandbag on the ground in front of you. On a partner's cue, pick up the sandbag, extend your hips and knees to drive out of your stance, throw the sandbag forward and sprint as fast as you can for 5 to 10 yards.
Defensive Backs – Resisted Wave Drill
Defensive backs need to start and stop on a dime and fluidly open their hips to change directions. This drill improves each of these skills.
How to: Attach a resistance band to your waist and have a partner hold the opposite end. Assume your starting stance on the line. Sprint forward 5 yards, plant your feet and backpedal at a 45-degree angle for 5 yards. Repeat across the field in a zigzag pattern for 15 to 20 yards.
Sets/Reps: 3-4x1 each direction; have your partner change positions each set to apply resistance from different angles.
Receivers – Pipe Catch Drill
This drill improves a receiver's concentration, ball awareness and hand-eye coordination—three skills needed to effectively get open and catch passes.
How to: Stand behind a goal post with one arm free on each side of it. Have a partner throw a pass toward the post. Try to catch the ball before it strikes the post, while keeping your hands on opposite sides of it. To make the snag, you'll have to peek around the post to see the ball coming, then grab with your hands despite the obstacle in your way.
Linebackers – 4-Corner Cone Drill
This reaction drill develops multi-directional quickness needed to run in a small space and improves reaction time so you can make a faster play on the ball.
How to: Set up four cones in a 10-yard box and number them 1 through 4. Stand in the center of the square and have a partner call out numbers at random. Sprint to the specified cone and touch it, immediately return to the center of the square and prepare for the next cue. Check out the video above for an example.
Sets/Duration: 6-8x5-10 sec.
Running Backs – Speed Ladder Run With Ball Toss
This is a great drill for developing faster reaction time and improving your ability to decelerate and accelerate to full speed quickly out of a cut. It also helps with catching the ball on the move.
How to: Run through a speed ladder in a specified pattern (the pattern doesn't matter, but make sure to vary it regularly). On a "Go" command from your partner, sprint out of the ladder at full speed and catch a pass. Regularly vary the angle of the sprint out of the ladder.
Quarterbacks – Swim Noodle Throws
These tosses will help a QB read the field and go through his progressions.
How to: Set up 4-5 swim noodles, each different color. Stake the noodles in the ground with a wood dowel, arranged them to simulate your receivers' passing routes. With the ball already in your hand, simulate a snap, go through your drop steps, move through your progressions and listen for a partner's cue on which color noodle to throw to.
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