This next drill is one that falls under the corrective category. Sometimes the use of this drill is unnecessary because the athlete already generates force in a beneficial way. But for the athletes who need this drill, it can make a world of difference.
If you have an athlete who plays flat-footed or really struggle to change of direction, the most likely cause is the athlete isn’t on the balls of their feet. However, verbal instruction of this correction hardly makes a difference, the athlete needs to feel the change. That’s why I’ve developed this drill:
With the resistance band pulling behind the athlete, they must remain on the balls of their feet and their weight slightly forward. If they shift their weight to their heels then the resistance band will pull them backwards off balance. They must perform the drill correctly to complete it.
This is a great drill because it replaces the verbal instruction to a physical one. Now that the athlete can feel the difference and must perform in this way to complete the drill - we can develop and train the correct weight distribution.
Another problem this drill can correct is more rare but equally as detrimental - an athlete who plays on the outside of their feet. This discovery came about talking to my players. I was bonding with our best defender about the blisters that form on the balls of the feet. When another player, one of our weakest defenders (despite good athleticism and physique), chimed in about also having blisters.
This player however got blisters on the outside of their feet. It dawned on me that this player must be using and relying on the outside of his feet to brake and produce force. This is more seen on a step-slide type explanation of defense - where the defender lunges as opposed to great defenders who are constantly producing force on the inside of their feet. Instead of stepping or lunging, they lift the foot up and the opposite foot’s explosion forces the foot and body to slide.
The Tail Slide drill is an important drill for struggling defenders to help them discover and train correct force generation and movement. Definitely one to use this off-season to make sure everyone is training in the right direction.
See you next time.