A Sport Specific Speed and Agility Drill: Barrel Roll to Sprint to Backpedal

Wednesday's post skimmed the surface with speed training- acceleration and deceleration- and offered a pretty great drill (in my humble opinion at least) to teach those two aspects of speed work concomitantly. 

I have yet another fantastic drill to work on speed/agility. This one is also incorporates acceleration and deceleration, but throws in the challenge of getting up off the floor directly into the sprint. Have a look-see before we break it down:

The athlete starts in a plank position, rolls over (right or left), gets up, sprints forward, slows down, and changes direction into a backpedal.

This particular athlete plays volleyball so this drill is perfect for volleyball players who often dive on the court (on the ground) and then immediately have to be up at the net (sprint forward) and eventually have to transition to her/his original spot on the court once the ball is returned from the opposing team (backpedal).

That said, this drill can really apply to any athlete since many athletes find themselves on the ground at one point or another and need to return to play as quickly as possible. 

I already spoke on the benefits of training the acceleration/deceleration aspect in the last post, so I won't belabor those points. Two specific things about this drill that I really, really like: 

1. The athlete has to learn how to re-orient his/herself. The barrel roll challenges the vestibular system (balance) by scrambling the inner ear and eyes a bit so the athlete has to learn how to figure out where they are in space, quickly, before they can get up again. A lot of people neglect to train or at least challenge the vestibular system so athletes can get disoriented on the field/court and thus lose valuable seconds within a play. You can "strengthen" the vestibular system by throwing in drills that change the athlete's field of vision, the physical position of the head/body, or requiring them to change directions rapidly. 

2. Not only does the athlete have to figure out where the body is in space, but now they have to get up off the ground. The transition from ground to standing is another place where seconds are wasted (and that can mean the difference between winning or losing...) so the faster an athlete can get up and back in the game, the better. Drills like this isolate that transition a bit so the athlete can learn how to do so most efficiently. 

This is a more slightly more advanced drill. Before giving this to an athlete, I would want to ensure she/he is able to change directions well and so drills that only focus on that are ideal to start, like the drill in the other post. Once they look pretty good there, we can throw in drills like this that add extra challenges that are a bit more sport-specific, or as I say, "life-specific."