Change of Direction

This week, I’d like to begin a series about COD–you won’t want to miss this one. Sure, it’s a little refresher in many ways, but brings SO MUCH to the playing field (or court). First thing’s first: the acronym COD in speed training means Change of Direction, not Call of Duty or Collect on Delivery.

Historically, change of direction has been covered in the “agility” or “quickness” categories of the Speed/Agility/Quickness (S.A.Q.) programming. If you grew up in athletics, you more than likely heard about S.A.Q. training. Moving on, Nike came along with S.P.A.R.Q. Essentially, they just added Power and Reaction to the acronym. Finally, there is always the programming we like to utilize and that’s LRJ for Lift, Run, Jump.

Last summer, I covered the Speed Training themes. You can read more on those here. To recap, Run is composed of four main speed training themes:

  • •0-10

  • •Change of Direction (COD)

  • •0-30

  • •As-sport-specific-as-possible COD

  • Our focus over the next few weeks will be about the second bullet point–Change of Direction. One of the most important aspects I want to reiterate is that change of direction training is the hardest on the legs. Therefore, if we have a COD-centric workout, conditioning volume is discounted and the athletes are given credit for that work.

    What makes COD so hard on the legs? Acceleration, deceleration, balance, stability, strength, endurance and agility are all required for athletic COD movements. Multiple changes of direction back-to-back in a short amount of time result in a high intensity and high energy output. That’s quite a lot!


    We know an athletic play, or move, when we see it, right? If you train correctly, that preparation will kick in during gameplay. It’s one thing to know how to set up a drill and its variations. It’s another to teach athleticism that prepares an athlete for those moments. I want you to have the confidence to coach your athletes to be faster, safer and more athletic.

    There is an incredible amount of technique required for effective COD. It’s not just about being fast, it’s about being safe. We are attempting to protect hips, knees and ankles as well as all the ligaments, tendons and muscles that have stress put on them during COD training.

    Correct COD training technique is especially important for female athletes who can be seemingly more susceptible to ACL tears – for many different reasons. Yet, even the best coaching doesn’t prevent ACL injuries or any other injuries per se. We have no way of quantifying the number of tears that didn’t occur because the training helped avoid it. What we hope to do is reduce the number and severity of injuries, period.


    Something to keep in mind is that it can be too risky to recreate some of the awkward situations in training to mimic those moves we see naturally occurring in competition. If you’ve spent long enough on social media, you may have seen videos with wild drills resembling gauntlets in a questionable attempt to “teach” athleticism.

    Don’t trip your kids up, metaphorically or literally.

    We come back to keeping it simple. It’s about teaching body control with fundamental movement patterns. Be good laterally, diagonally, and backward while changing direction at acute, obtuse, and right angles. Training is in a controlled environment for a reason. You want quality reps at simple drills. This allows athletes to focus on applying coaching. Variation can easily be added at higher levels.

    King Sports answers this with our library of change of direction drills, so make sure you create a free account to access these and many other benefits!


    Coaching cues are basic words or phrases that remind an athlete what technique needs to be corrected. These cues come with a degree of redundancy to help during learning purposes.

    Some of the most common coaching cues for COD are “Squat as you stop”, “Feet apart,” or “Hips around.” That's just the stopping part. To get going in the new direction, you must “jump” or “explode” out of the crouched position. I’ll also discuss the restart during this series. As you can tell, coaching cues are just a summation of the proper instruction that I’ll go over in the next few weeks.

    We will get into specifics with certain drills as it applies to the technique. Afterall, that is what this series is about. I want to tell you what, when, how, how much, and why. There are three main drills we will cover:

  • •The 5-10-5 Pro Shuttle

  • •The 3-cone “L” Drill

  • •The Hot 250

  • I’ll also get into major mistakes and their fixes as well as talk about where it fits in a program.


    We have a response to those awkward situations when you may stumble on a bump in the carpet or your own feet. It’s a win when you recover and don’t fall, which would be the ultimate fail and embarrassing if anybody witnessed it.

    We’ll say, "Nice recovery,” or the esoteric rhetorical statement “ATHLETE!” The key word is recovery.

    Players trip over other players, get hit hard and get off balance, trip over their own feet or even a chalk line. At the end of the day, no matter what, recover. If you fall, get back up. If you trip, try not to fall.

    The major takeaway from this is realizing how valuable change of direction is in your program: the athleticism, the conditioning, body awareness, action reaction, etc.

    To this end I will program two days a week (but no more) just exclusively change of direction training, which excludes the ladder, since it is not a COD activity. It’s not entirely accurate to refer to it as an “agility ladder.” Still, the quantity of ladder training is logged to keep up with how much the athletes are doing. TEASER: We have a 1000 step ladder program.

    As I like to say when it comes to change of direction workouts, “Feel the heat!” So starting next week, with the 5-10-5 Pro Shuttle, I’m going to coach you up on everything you need to know to teach your athletes how to master this drill and the rest.

    “Every day”


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