Sep 21, 2016
In Need of Speed
Jeff Kipp

Football is a diverse sport played by a variety of athletes, whose ideal physical stature is largely dictated by the requirements of each position. However, one common thread provides an advantage for all football players at any position: to be faster than the opponent. It has been said that in football strength punishes, but speed kills. Speed training for football can be as complex or as simple as the coaching staff chooses to make it. It is not necessary to go out and spend a lot of money on specific equipment. Even though the requirements for playing speed depend on position, every athlete on the field can benefit from training to become faster.

One great drill to use for working on balance is the Lateral or Angled Quarter-Squat Push-off. Here is a breakdown of it:

Aim: To develop lateral first-step speed, lateral deceleration, and change of direction speed.


The athlete begins the drill in a quarter-squat position with the thighs just above parallel to the ground (see photo above). The knees are bent, the hips are back, and the chest is up. The feet are slightly wider than hip width, giving the athlete a solid base. From the quarter-squat position, the athlete pushes off one leg (trail leg) and moves laterally, landing on the opposite foot (lead leg).

This exercise can be performed using lateral or angled movements. On landing, the athlete sticks the landing and resumes the position of the lead leg to the quarter-squat position. The hips are back and even. Athletes may try to balance by moving the hips and trail leg, but they should try to limit this movement to improve balance and technique.

Coaching Points

  • Athletes push laterally off of the whole foot with a focus on the ball of the foot to use the larger muscles of the quadriceps and glutes and minimize the absorption of force at the ankle.
  • The back is flat, chest up, and head in a neutral position with the eyes focused 5 — 10 yards ahead, not looking at the feet.
  • Athletes stick the landing and do not collapse or use an extra hop or step for balance.


The difficulty can be increased by adding one or more 6-inch (15 cm) hurdles for the athlete to move over. Once the correct body position can be maintained, the athlete may progress to multiple-response repetitions (several actions performed repeatedly). These can initially be in the same direction and then varied to develop a change-of-direction response (for example, a sprint in the opposite or an angled direction, a turn and run, and a backpedal). Reaction and recognition can be introduced by having the athlete move only when a visual or auditory command is given. As the athlete performs the movement, a coach may throw a reaction ball or tennis ball in front of the athlete, requiring reaction and pursuit.

This article, an excerpt from the book Developing Speed, was originally published on the website of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is being used with permission. All text and images provided by Human Kinetics.

Jeff Kipp, MS, CSCS, RSCC*D, currently serves as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the men's and women's cross country and track and field teams at the University of Kansas. Kipp also served as the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at the United States Air Force Academy, as a Performance Coach at Velocity Sports Performance, as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Denver, and as a Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the football team at Colorado School of Mines. Kipp holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from Texas A&M University and a Master of Science degree in Exercise Science from the University of Northern Colorado.

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