Lateral Hurdle Step-Over Drill for Change of Direction
By Gene Coleman, Jose Vazquez and Napoleon Pichardo
The purpose of this post is to present a drill that will help athletes safely transition from deceleration to acceleration and improve the ability to change directions quickly and under control. The movements used in this drill require high levels of coordination and body control, because you are constantly working on gaining, maintaining or regaining your center of gravity while changing directions at high speed.
Goal: The goal of the drill is to move quickly from left to right stepping over each hurdle with one foot at a time, quickly change directions and return to the start by moving right to left stepping over each cone with one foot at a time. Over and back is one rep. Perform four reps quickly and under control.
Set-up and execution. Place 3 small cones or micro hurdles in a line on the floor about 12 inches apart.
- Facing forward, stand in an “athletic” stance to the left and outside of the first cone in the row.
- Move to the right quickly stepping over each hurdle with one foot at a time until reaching the outside of the third cone with the right foot.
- Keep the hips low, lift the knees and take quick choppy steps.
- As soon as the right foot hits outside the third cone, extend the right leg, shift the center of gravity to the left, immediately lift the left foot and quickly repeat the sequence moving to the left.
- When you return to the start, this is one rep. Perform 4 reps.
- As soon as the left foot hits outside the first cone, extend the left leg, shift the center of gravity to the right, quickly change directions and repeat the sequence.
- Warm-up before and cool-down after.
- Start slow and gradually increase speed as you perfect the drill.
- Keep a good base of support by placing your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart and staying on the balls of your feet.
- Maintain a low center of balance to help with body control.
- Keep the shoulders, knees and toes in line.
- Maintain a strong, “ready” posture with your head up, shoulders back, chest up and pump the arms for balance and move from the hips to the feet.
- Keep weight on inside foot and plant on outside foot when moving laterally.
- This is a CNS / musculoskeletal drill, not a fitness drill. Keep the duration short and perform 4 reps or less.
- Perform 2-3 sets with 1-2 minutes rest between sets.
Application: This exercise is an effective tool to improve deceleration, body control and lateral change of direction. Start in a slow controlled manner to prevent compensatory movements and minimize loss of body control. Focus on staying low on the stop and avoiding being too vertical. Keep the shoulders inside the base of support.
Progression. An effective progression of this drill is to start with 4 cones and then remove one cone after each rep to increase the intensity and speed of movement. Perform the first rep with 4 cones, the second with 3 cones and the last two with 2 cones. Another advanced option is to set up two parallel rows of cones and have two partners face and mirror each other. One partner is the initiator, the other is the reactor. On the initiator’s first move, the reactor must react and mirror the lateral movements of the initiator.
Go to http://baseballstrength.org/lateral-cone-step-over/ to see a video demonstration of this drill,
Gene Coleman was the Head S&C Coach for the Houston Astros from 1978-2012 and is currently a S&C consultant for the Texas Rangers, Professor Emeritus in the Exercise and Health Sciences Program at the University of Houston – Clear Lake and Website Education Manager baseballstrength.org. Jose Vazquez, PT, RSCC is Head Strength Coach, Texas Rangers. Napoleon Pichardo, CSCS, is the Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, Texas Rangers.