Drills to Improve Your Route Running

Football Player Running

As a wide receiver, it doesn’t matter how fast or big you are if you can’t run crisp routes—if you run sloppy routes, you likely won’t get open enough for your quarterback to give you looks. While speed and strength are important traits for a receiver, it is just as important to have clean footwork and the ability to accelerate and decelerate on a dime. Here are a couple of drills you can practice to work on those often-overlooked aspects of your game.

Agility Ladders

Before every workout or practice, make it a habit to spend 10-15 minutes working on your footwork with agility ladders. Start out simple by forward and lateral run-throughs, tapping both feet in between ladders as fast as you can. Speed is important, but first make sure you are going through cleanly by not touching the rungs of the ladder. Once you’ve gotten your feet warmed up, a popular agility ladder drill is the Ickey Shuffle. Start with both feet behind the beginning of the ladder, tap your right foot in the box, tap your left foot in the box and tap the right foot one more time to the right of the ladder. Continue doing this through the entire agility ladder, moving into the next box with the last foot to tap into the previous box. Watch this video to learn how to properly practice the Ickey Shuffle!

Box DrillsBox Drills

Having good footwork and agility is vital to your ability to get in and out of their breaks as fast as possible. Once you’ve worked with the agility ladder, move to some drills that work on your cutting, acceleration and deceleration. Box drills are popular amongst receivers for working on this. Start by placing four cones ten yards in a square or box formation. Then place three more cones between six and twelve inches outside of three of the previously placed cones as shown below.

Start at the cone without a cone outside of it, accelerate to the cone in directly in front of you, decelerate around the cone at a 90-degree angle in between the two cones and continue this through the box. Make sure you lower your center of gravity and chop your feet before reaching the first cone to allow your body to properly decelerate. For the cleanest break, plant your outside leg while driving your inside leg towards the next cone.

What are some drills you like to work on that helps route running? Let us know in the comments below!

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