The NFL Draft is finally underway. Here’s to your team drafting their missing link. While it feels like it took forever to get here, it also feels like forever ago that they were hosting the NFL Combine.
Two of the COD drills to start our Spring Series are both main events at the NFL Combine. However, that’s not because they are football drills. They are speed drills, and they are so indicative of athleticism that other sports utilize them in their combines as well.
They are the Pro Shuttle, aka the “5-10-5,” and the 3-Cone Drill, aka the “L” Drill. We'll be looking at each drill in depth, starting with the Pro Shuttle this week.
As simple as this sounds, one of the most important things to do is make sure your athletes understand the name of the drill. Some drills have multiple names and youth athletes especially may not realize they are one in the same. So, for the drill we are discussing this week, the Pro Shuttle is the 5-10-5 and the 5-10-5 is the Pro Shuttle. Finkle is Einhorn. Einhorn is Finkle.
The 5-10-5 Pro Shuttle is a COD drill where the standard version is three cones in a straight line, each five yards apart. In total, it is a 20-yard drill containing two changes of direction with a path that stays in the same plane. It gets the qualifier “pro” simply because it denotes the particular “official” set-up, thus delineating it from other similar drills. For example, when you hear “pro shuttle,” you should think 5-10-5, not 6-12-6 or 4-8-4.
Teach your athletes the name “5-10-5” correlates with the distance of the three phases of the drill (running five yards, then ten, then five yards). Remember, for those athletes who are the newest into the sport, they may not make that correlation at the beginning.
Also, reiterate the standard movement pattern is running, not shuffling. For whatever reason(s), some youth hear “shuttle” and think shuffle. Since we have variations that change the movement patterns, it’s understandable where there can be confusion. However, in this instance, the shuttling back-and-forth is running.
This falls under the COD Speed Training theme. It is not considered a sport-specific COD drill. You should execute this drill to develop lateral speed and quickness.
It truly is a universal COD drill. Its simplicity is what makes it so great. It practices two full changes of direction - a 180º turn each way - in as small a space as necessary.
The athlete starts at the middle cone. Whatever direction they start, they run five yards to a boundary cone, turn and run ten yards to the opposite boundary cone, then turn and run five yards through the middle cone where they started. Simple enough, right?
Now for the details.
If you are going to start right, I coach the left hand starts on the ground. I’ve heard others say the opposite, but I disagree. The direction you start itself doesn’t matter because we always train both ways.
The stance to teach the athlete should be narrow enough to take a correct first step without over-striding. Your body is split by the cone, centered up, always facing the cone. American football is the only sport I coach the athlete to start with their hand on the ground, because that is standard for their testing. However, I advocate every sport train that way.
The lead foot (going left, the left foot) is at a toe to instep stagger to the other foot (thus slightly behind it). This is so the trail leg can come through on as straight a line as possible. If the trail leg swings around to get in stride, you are losing time and possibly balance as you try to line up the first cone. We have done it a thousand times to find the best answer and time has proven you start with your best step, back leg across, lead leg jab step.
It's possible to teach a slip step with the lead foot. That’s where the lead foot slides toward your middle by a couple of inches so that you fall in the direction you're going. To that point, whatever the first step, think “fall” the direction you are going by dipping the lead shoulder.
To assist all of this, throw the lead arm to get it into running position and get the shoulders turning quicker. Speaking of arm, do not rest the free arm on a leg. Have it bent across your body to facilitate the throw.
Two critical coaching points:
1. Run with your eyes. They will pull you to the end points (the two boundary cones). At each turn, find the cone first, especially at the second turn, look for the far cone. When you leave the middle cone after the start, it doesn’t exist anymore.
2. At both ends, start your turn as you stop. Do not run to the cone and stop fully facing it, requiring a slower pivot. You should be halfway or more into the turn when you stop.
It is a short sprint, but still a sprint. With this drill, it is required to touch the line with the hand in the direction you are running. Left, left; right, right.
In official testing, if the line is missed or the wrong hand is used, it’s a DQ. Don’t wave at it and miss. Touch it. Likewise, there’s no need to smash the line. The line is hot. Touch and go. In training, train like you test. Be excellent.
Keep your balance. As you touch the line, you want the shoulders leaning away from you to give you momentum off the stop. This is all about transitioning your center of gravity. Your feet must be apart and ideally hips between the knees. As you leave the first cone, get into sprint form as fast as possible, as is the name of the game. Find the second cone with your eyes.
A note about the turns at the cones: it is a mistake to think you can gain time by keeping both feet inside the cone. When you turn and the foot goes past the cone, the only question is are you in a good position to run? There is a limit, but don’t obsess over it.
This is a 10-yard sprint, so speed is involved. Therefore, don’t get caught off guard when the next cone is upon you. Everything concerning the turn and takeoff is the same as cone one. Start your turn as you stop, touch with the hand the direction you are going and fall into the next sprint. Again, immediately find the far cone and haul a**.
Easy to do, easy to mess up. Track and field finish rule #1: run through the finish. Find something to run to past the finish.
This is an example of a question that’s easier to answer by saying who should NOT do the shuttle, because the reality is, every athlete should do this drill (with the exception of maybe water sports like swimming and diving). The other caveat is that the youngest athletes, particularly elementary schoolers, can be introduced with a shorter 4-8-4 shuttle.
Regardless, this is the most common COD drill in the world yet is rarely coached right. Take the time to teach, especially this one, to all your athletes regardless of sport.
This is a high priority drill and should be the first COD drill introduced and implemented. It should then be the most recurring drill in your repertoire. What’s great about this drill is there are some minor variations that allow you to do some form or fashion of it on a consistent basis.
This drill can be done indoors or outdoors, on hardwood or on grass. Depending on your sport, it may be best to train in cleats on turf/grass.
That’s it for the 5-10-5. There may be more minutiae, but these are the most important fundamentals for this drill. It goes unsaid, but be patient teaching this because all of these elements all at once can be overwhelming for a beginner. Take it step by step and always be willing to focus on another “thing” another day.
Next week, we take a similar approach to the 3-Cone “L” Drill.