Getting Away From The Whistle

A while back on my way into SAPT, I found myself face to face with a 10 ft. long piece of lumber laying across my lane on 495. I was immediately bombarded with a ton of information to process and a decision to make. Do I slam on the brakes (not smart on the highway), or blindly jump into another lane (also not smart on the highway)?  I immediately pulled a high speed precision driving maneuver to avoid the collision. Unfortunately, this maneuver didn’t work out quite as well as I had seen it done in some movies.

Immediately following this encounter I began thinking about how athletes have to do perform reactive movements and skills tens if not hundreds of time within a competition.  In volleyball for example, every time a ball is passed to a different player that player has to respond rapidly; or in football after an interception, a skill player like a quarterback immediately must transition and become a defender.

How does one prepare his/her athletes for rapid game-time decision-making? One training tool I like to include are reactive cues rather than having athletes strictly focus on reacting to a horn, bell, or whistle. This is a great way to get your athletes thinking, add competition to a practice, and have some fun at the same time.  Explained below is a fun drill that you can implement at your next practice, training session, or family BBQ.

  1. Have an athlete or group begin on a court or field line
  2. Inform the person of your specific cue and the predetermined distance. This can be just a few yards or longer if you desire. (Example: Even numbers = athletes run left, Odd numbers= athletes run right)

A example of this would be to have an athlete straddle the half court line of a basketball court facing the bench. The athlete will then be instructed to turn and sprint 5 yards to his left if an even number is called out and to turn and sprint 5 yards to his right if an odd number is called.  If the coach of this example calls out "67" the athlete would turn to his or her right and sprint through the marker signifying 5 yards.

Mix this up by having athletes start from various positions (push up position, seated) or asking them perform various actions during their round (side shuffle, backpedal back, carioca, etc.)

Have a blast training your muscles and brains.