Setup:

Place two cones roughly 10 yards apart, directly on a line. Have your players line up at one end of the cone.

Purpose:

To improve your players’ motor skills and confidence when it comes to backpedaling.

Punch from the bottom.
Two handed strip.
Rip from behind.
Club from the front.

 

Execution:

Get the first player in line to turn around. There are four things they need to do in this drill: keep their nose on the line, keep their hips on the line, pump their arms, and stay in a low, athletic stance. Everyone’s backpedal is going to look a bit different – this is something you don’t want to over-coach. The most important things are that they keep their eyes on the play, they’re balanced, and they’re moving efficiently. If the answer to all three of those questions is yes, they should be fine.

Coaching Tips:

One of the biggest reasons players don’t like backpedaling is that they can’t see what’s behind them. They either move too gingerly or keep looking back, taking themselves out of the play. To deal with this, at the start of the drill, have the first player get in stance and ask them if there is anything behind them that could possibly trip them. They will say no, and you will say then they have absolutely no reason to look back. Like all the other drills we’ve gone through so far, start off at half-speed, having them walk through and work your way up, and remember to correct any mistakes you see the players making.

Tips for Younger Athletes:

  • Encourage young players to practice in a defined space to develop better understanding of their position in relation to the field and other players while backpedaling. Mark areas with cones or lines on the field for this purpose.
  • Teach younger athletes to keep their knees slightly bent while backpedaling. This helps maintain balance and prepares them for quick directional changes, essential in football.
  • Emphasize the importance of controlled, deliberate movements. Young players often rush through drills, leading to improper form. Focus on each step and movement to develop muscle memory.

Tips for Older Athletes:

  • Integrate agility drills into the backpedal for older, more experienced players. Include quick turns, sudden stops, or changes in direction to improve not only backpedaling but overall agility on the field.
  • Work on exercises that build explosive power in the legs, like jump squats or lunges. This power is crucial for an effective backpedal, especially when transitioning into a sprint or jump.
  • Practice maintaining focus on a moving target while backpedaling. This simulates game conditions where players need to track the ball or an opponent while moving backwards. Have another player or coach move with the ball as they backpedal.