- Wide Receiver Drills:Key Questions to Answer
Any successful strength and conditioning programs main goal are to enhance athletic performance and prevent injuries. Training athletes basically is all about two things: improving mobility (in all planes) and increasing strength levels. Do your athletes have the mobility to place themselves into a proper stance for their position and are they strong enough to explode out of that stance aggressively.
At the conclusion of your training program coaches should be able to answer “YES” to the following questions:
1) Are your athletes strong enough to hold that stance throughout the course of a game after numerous intense encounters with the opposition??
2) Can they fire out powerfully and efficiently to establish position so that they can win their individual battle??
3) Do they have the mobility to stay low and dominate the competition in a fight??
Your wide receiver drills will be much more effective if you focus your training on mobility and single leg strength. Mike Boyle says “A quick 1st step is in reality the product of a powerful 1st push. Developing foot speed truly lies in single leg strength.” The stronger your wide receivers are on one leg the faster and more explosive they will be off the line. Just think about it, when receivers are driving out of their break they are taught to push off of 1 leg according to the route. The more force I can create on 1 leg the faster I can get out of my break creating separation with the defensive back. So it makes sense that single leg strength is the key to making plays on the field. It has also been proven that improving single leg strength is the best way to prevent lower body injuries.
Having great mobility will allow your athletes the sink their hips creating a base to transition in and out of breaks easier. Without this vital hip mobility your wide receiver drills will look horrific. Playing the position is not all about running routes either. There’s no possible way that your guys will be able to effectively stalk block without having the ability to position their hips low enough to establish a foundation to hold their ground while engaged in contact.
When developing your sport specific program and wide receiver drills, the main component is to mirror your drills after movement patterns of the position and take into consideration the recovery time between plays to simulate game situations. Tactical skill development must be trained simultaneously with energy system demands in mind.
Whether you are working on releases, first step quickness or simulating routes, wide receiver drills must simulate game activity. The sole purpose of position specific drills is to enhance game performance by increasing the athlete’s skill level. Honestly, there are hundreds of different ways to increase your receiver’s skillfulness but one common theme that all your drills must have is the deceleration component.
Being able to transition smoothly yet aggressively from accelerating to decelerating is the key to being agile and moving in multiple directions. Athletes that can decelerate the fastest before changing directions will create more space out of breaks and experience the most success on the field. Regardless of the athletes top end speed, having the ability to stop and change direction quickly will have the biggest impact on their performance. The fastest athletes know how to change direction quickly while still maintaining speed.
When performing wide receiver drills, remember there are some key techniques that must be reinforced with each movement. Just like any agility enhancement program all drills must be performed with 100% intensity. The only way to get faster is to practice performing drills at full speed. Athletes must learn how to control their body while giving full effort. Athletes can either start in a wide receiver stance (Weight on balls of feet, shoulders over top of toes, back flat with chest up) or in a sound athletic stance (Feet slightly wider than shoulder width, weight on ball of feet, back flat with chest up.)
There are a couple of cues to be considered when implementing these drills. First, have the athlete sink their hips while keeping their shoulders over top of their toes when cutting in and out of breaks. This will allow athletes to establish a base and control their bodies when decelerating in and out of cuts. Never allow them to drop their arms when decelerating and force them to constantly work their hands in all portions of the drill.
Next, all athletes must practice quickly turning their head to locate the ball when accelerating out of breaks and to immediately secure and tuck the ball with their outside hand. Last, whenever an athlete catches the ball they should always give an aggressive burst to develop a mentality of attacking the end-zone.
Just simply incorporating a ball into your drills is not the answer to developing any skilled offensive player for football. Enhancing mobility and strength (single leg strength) levels along with integrating wide receiver drills that emphasize deceleration are the major components to creating game breaking wide receivers!! Your imagination is the only thing holding you back from creating new agility drills but remember to always install some type of deceleration aspect.