Find static stretching to be stale? Freshen up your flexibility routine with a tennis ball drill, courtesy of Andreu Swasey, University of Miami football strength and conditioning coach.
This drill enhances elasticity. To perform it correctly, Swasey says, “you’ve got to be able to bend at the hips, and be fluid and flexible.” Furthermore, it works your first-step quickness because you react off what you see—just like in a game.
The current crop of ’Cane superstars use this drill every day to stretch their lower bodies before or after activity.
What you need: Two tennis balls, a hard surface [e.g., gym floor], coach, teammates
Setup: Behind line on floor, get in 40-yard dash or position-specific stance // Teammate assumes same stance an arm’s length to your left or right // Coach stands five yards in front of you with arms raised at sides, holding tennis ball in each hand
• When coach simultaneously drops balls straight down, explode out of stance and retrieve ball in your “lane”
• Bend at hips to catch ball
• Sprint 5 to 10 yards after catch
Sets/Rest: 3-6/30-45 seconds between drops
Note: Drill can be performed solo, but competing against teammates spices it up and builds camaraderie
Coaching Points: Stay low when shooting off the line // Always keep back flat and low // Maintain a straight angle to ball // Don’t reach or dive for tennis ball
Benefits: Recruits hip and lower-body flexibility // Develops quickness and explosion off the line // Enhances hand-eye coordination // Forces you to react by sight instead of sound or cadence
Watch video NFL off-season training at the University of Miami.