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Great Footwork and Agility

Shakes, feet, wiggle, jukes, the ability to quickly change directions, is required for a high level of play at cornerback. Covering routes, making tackles in space, and returning picks, punts, and kicks all require an agile player.

...And that requires explosive power and strength.

Stopping On A Dime

Changing directions quickly means stopping fast and starting fast, which requires you to have starting and stopping power.

Starting power (and jumping power) is developed through the explosive power and strength exercises like jump squats, box jumps, and speed training drills like the 20-yard bursts.

All these exercises focus on the prime movers being shortened very quickly, or used concentrically.

But stopping power is a bit different.

When you stop, you are still using your prime movers, but the movement is eccentric instead of concentric. This basically means that the muscle is lengthening instead of shortening.

A good example would be lowering a heavy barbell slowly to your chest. You're still using your pecs (chest muscles), but they are being used eccentrically.

So for stopping power, you want to focus on improving the eccentric strength and power of your prime movers.

Beyond Maximum Strength

A great way to improve your eccentric strength is super-maximum strength training. I explained on the Great Strength page what this is but, basically, it consists of training with eccentric reps:

Using weight that is slightly (about 5%) above your 1RM (1 Repetition Maximum) and, using spotters, try your best to keep the weight up or slow it down during the eccentric part of the lift. Your spotters help lift the weight back up, and you start over, performing 2-5 reps.

This type of lifting is only recommended for core (or multi-joint) exercises, like squats and bench press.

Make sure you're 3 or more weeks into your Maximum Strength phase before trying this.

Stopping Power

In addition to the super-maximum strength training there are also some power training plyo metric exercises called "depth jumps" you can perform to help you with your stopping power.

Depth Jumps

They are basically what their name describes: jumping for depth, not height. What you do is stand on any stable elevated surface (stairs, plyo-box, table) and jump off in a controlled manner, landing on the balls of your feet, absorbing the impact by bending you knees and your hips.

You can make it a reactive exercise by exploding out of the bent position in either a vertical or forward direction.

Agility Drills

Being an agile player also requires many repetitions of football training drills. In addition to any weight training regimen, you should also be drilling yourself in the actual movement you want to get better at with speed and change-of-direction training.

You won't get better unless you're performing the movement, and building those muscle memory connections. Here are some drills you can perform to increase your ability to change directions:

Combine Agility Drills:


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20yd Short Shuttle

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General Agility Drills:


The long slalom is basically a zig-zag down the field for 50-100yds. It helps you to develop your deceleration and acceleration into and out of cuts, respectively.

Long Slow Turn Drill

The long slow turn drill is a long series of slow turns. In this drill you'll cut diagonally every 5 yards for 50-100yds. This drill helps you get more comfortable with the slow turn and opening your hips to the inside instead of speed turning.

Box Drill

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Great Footwork

The placement of your feet when you cut and break is just as important to your ability to change directions as starting and stopping power.

You can be as strong and powerful as ever, but if you have bad feet, your ability to transfer that strength and power into agility will be limited.

Footwork Ladder Drills

Here are some footwork ladder drills you can use to help get your feet quick, keep them underneath you, and give you the leverage you need to be an explosive, agile cornerback. They also help you develop great lateral quickness.

Just like the cornerback drills, make sure you:

Some of these drills take a while to get used to, so if you have to, start slowly. Once you begin to get the hang of the drill, use good technique, and are able to stay low, you can speed up the drill.

Quick Step

The quick-step drill is for getting your feet up and down as quickly as possible.

The Drill:

Get Quick Feet with an Agility Ladder!!!

Side Step

The side-step drill is for getting your legs up and down quickly while moving laterally.

The Drill:

Get Quick Feet with an Agility Ladder!!!

Lateral Movement

Lateral movement drills work on your ablilty to change directions from side to side.

The Drill:


Backward Lateral Movement

The Drill:


Lateral Hops

The Drill:



Ins-n-outs help you work on keeping your feet underneath you when you move backwards and come out of your breaks.

The Drill:

Like the cornerback drills, you want to perform these combine agility and ladder drills consistently over time to burn them into your muscle memory and develop lightning quick feet.

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