Your nickname might be “Lightning,” but if you can’t get off the line of scrimmage quickly, you could be reduced to a state of static shock on the football field.
According to Andreu Swasey, University of Miami football strength and conditioning coach, having quick reaction time is an essential element to becoming a faster player. That’s why Swasey’s ’Canes perform the Tennis Ball Reaction Drill. “It’s the same motions and the same reactions in the sport,” he says. “It’s not off a command with a voice, it’s off of what they see and are reacting to.”
The drill not only targets reaction time and first-step movement, it also focuses on visual cues and hand-eye coordination. It appears to be working; Miami has captured five AP National Championships and nine conference championships.
Tennis Ball Reaction Drill
• Start in three point or receiver stance on a line five yards away from coach
• Coach raises his arm with a tennis ball in hand
• Once ball is dropped, explode forward to catch it
• Try to catch ball, allowing it to hit the ground only once
Sets/Rest: 3-5 sets/30-45 seconds between sets
Coaching Points: Stay low when exploding off the line // Back should always be flat and low // Don’t reach or dive for ball // Run all the way through drill // To increase difficulty, have coach move back // Stay focused on the ball before it’s dropped