Using the T Drill to Improve Quickness

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One project that I continue to put off is getting videos of most of our speed and agility work.

We take a lot of pride in our Performance program and one of the biggest strengths of it is the speed and agility work we do on the turf. It helps our athletes get faster, quicker, and perform well in their sport.

The only downside is that most college Exercise Science/Physiology programs lack a speed and agility component. There are a lot of undergraduate students that come for internships or looking for work but have no experience on the turf.

To start combating that, I have always wanted to get videos and more info about the speed and agility work that we do. I finally got a couple up but the videos are only a small piece of the puzzle.

One drill that we like to incorporate in our program is the T Drill. When we break the T Drill down, there are a lot of good components to help athletes become quicker.

Multi Directional Movement

The standard T drill starts with a sprint, then shuffle, shuffle in the opposite direction, shuffle back to the middle, and backpedal in. The athlete gets to use 3 different movements in this drill.

This is helpful because sports are not black and white. Athletes have to use multiple directions in any combination to be successful. They usually do not know which way they are going to go so they should be good at most of them.

Training Deceleration

Decelerating is probably the most important part of quickness. There are two parts to quickness, going and slowing down. Most athletes lose time slowing down.

The T Drill allows both a linear and lateral decel. The athlete should maintain a good knee bend, keep their hips back, and torso stays over their hips. It is easy to lose good positioning when changing direction so be aware of what your body is doing in this drill.

West Virginia defensive lineman Bruce Irvin during the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 27 in Indianapolis, Ind. (AP Photo/Gary A. Vasquez)

West Virginia defensive lineman Bruce Irvin during the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 27 in Indianapolis, Ind. (AP Photo/Gary A. Vasquez)

Small Area Quickness

Most athletes can get up to a pretty good top speed with enough time to get there. Unfortunately that is not very helpful in most game situations.

Sport requires a lot of short bursts in minimal time and in a lot of different directions. Being able to run this cone drill quickly will help when it comes time to play good defense or get into an open area.

The goal should not be to simply finish the drill. Instead, run it as hard as possible to move quickly.


The T Drill can be used in a number of different ways to avoid becoming so patterned. The video above shows the standard but also a half T.

We could also:

  • Use all sprints
  • Switch up the order of the movements
  • Change the size of the tee
  • Begin the drill with a backpedal or a shuffle to sprint
  • Start from a knee or the ground

The possibilities only end when your creativity does. I am a big fan of getting away from rehearsed drills when possible.

Reactive Component

Another way to add variation is a reactive component. I like adding reaction to get away from patterns. It will also help with an athlete’s decision making and critical thinking. The best athletes are good at those two qualities.

The athlete can run straight and then the reaction begins. Call left/right, point one way, or use different color cones to react to.

An athlete could also run the full drill and on the backpedal, sprint straight ahead on a coach’s cue.