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Mat Drills

This is an excerpt from Complete Conditioning for Football by Patrick Ivey & Josh Stoner.

Station 2: Mat Drills

Mat Drills can be completed on wrestling mats or on field turf. Mark off an area 15 × 15 yards. Athletes line up three across and a minimum of 10 lines deep.

At the station, the athletes follow the coach's commands:

  • Breakdown: The first two lines assume an athletic position—head up, feet shoulder-width apart, hands off thighs. After the drill is initiated and the first line has gone, this command will not be used again unless the group is starting over.
  • Set: The next line quickly steps into the drill area, feet chopping (moving rapidly up and down).
  • Go: The line on the mat executes the drill.
  • Ready, ready: Players return to the athletic position, chopping the feet and evening out the line while waiting for the next command.
  • Fire out: Players sprint across the mat, forward roll at the end of the mat, and come up chopping their feet. They sprint all the way off the mat in the direction in which the coach points. All players must be in a line and chopping their feet before the coach sends them off the mat.

Keys to Mat Drills

  • Each drill is approximately six seconds long.
  • Each drill must be done with great speed and quickness.
  • Each drill must be done perfectly by all players on the line or the group is sent back to do it again until it is done perfectly.
  • Coaches and athletes demonstrate intensity. Perfection is demanded.
  • Players forward roll on tape two thirds of the way across the mat or at the 10-yard mark. After the roll, each player must come to his feet in an athletic position, chopping the feet rapidly, and get his eyes on the coach at the end of the mat for the exit direction.
  • The coach sends players straight off the mat after the first drill to get warmed up. After the first drill, the coach sends players off to the right, left, or straight.
  • First-year players are limited to 11 minutes (week 1), 13 minutes (week 2), and 15 to 17 minutes (week 3+). Coaches should gradually build up the time players spend at each station to allow proper adaptation and minimize the risk of injury to athletes.
  • The Mat Drills end with a horn blowing, at which point players rotate to the next station.

High Knees Mat Drill


  • Drive your knees up as high as you can (figure 6.1).
  • Bring your knees to your chest as rapidly as possible with your arms and knees together. (See chapter 5.)

Figure 6.1 High Knees Mat Drill.

Two-Point Shuffle Wave Mat Drill


  • Chop your feet.
  • Shuffle right, left, forward, or back, whichever direction the coach points.
  • Keep your eyes on the coach.

Two-Point Seat Roll Mat Drill


  • From a standing position, drop to your backside and roll over.
  • Stand up, chopping your feet.

Four-Point Seat Roll Mat Drill


  • Dive out on the mat, stay on all fours, and chop your feet.
  • Roll in the direction the coach points.

Four-Point Directional Wave Mat Drill


  • Dive out on the mat and start chopping your feet.
  • Move in the direction the coach points—right, left, forward, back, or down—as fast as possible.

Two-Point Sprint Wave Mat Drill


  • Chop your feet.
  • Sprint right, left, forward, or back, whichever direction the coach points.
  • Keep your eyes on the coach.

Mirror Mat Drill


  • Before the drill begins, the coach chooses a rabbit.
  • The rabbit runs to the middle of the mat.
  • The other players react as the rabbit tries to lose them by quickly changing direction. The rabbit can hit the ground only once per time on the mat.

Spinning Wheel Mat Drill


  • Dive on the mat, chopping your feet.
  • On the coach's command, bear crawl forward and spin on your right hand.
  • Continue forward and spin on your left hand.
  • Execute a forward roll and follow the coach's next command.

Quarter Eagle Mat Drill


  • While chopping your feet, open your hips in the direction the coach points (figure 6.2).
  • Return to the starting position while facing the coach, feet chopping.
Figure 6.2 Quarter Eagle Mat Drill.

Learn more about Complete Conditioning for Football.