These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

Learn to run crisp, precise receiver routes with three drills from USA Football.


To become a great receiver, you first have to become a great route-runner. Proper route-running technique is crucial for getting open and will help you pile up receiving yards even if you aren't the fastest or biggest player on the field. Running good, crisp routes allows you to lose defensive backs and create separation. If you're a coach or a player who wants to improve, check out these three drills from USA Football.

The Box Drill

This drill promotes controlling your footwork and dropping your hips while you run through multiple 90-degree breaks.

How to:

  •  Set up four cones 5 to 7 yards apart to form a box. Set up another four cones outside the box to form four 1-yard gates.
  •  Have a coach set up inside or outside the box to either soft toss or overhand throw balls as you run through the drill.
  •  Start in a normal receiver stance at the starting gate and burst off the line on the whistle or "go" command.
  •  As you reach the first gate, sink your hips, reduce your arm action and plant your outside foot.
  •  Push off your outside foot and increase your arm action to propel yourself through the gate at a 90-degree angle.
  •  Use the same form to move through the third gate and snap your head around to look for the ball on the way to the fourth gate.

The M Drill

This drill also focuses on proper footwork going in and out of breaks, forcing you to stay low as you make multiple breaks over a short distance.

How to:

  •  Place cones 5 to 7 yards apart to form a box. Use two cones at every corner to form an angled gate, and set up two cones in the middle of the box to form another gate. There should be a gate at every point in the "M."
  •  Have a coach set up inside or outside the box to either soft toss or overhand throw balls as you run through the drill.
  •  Start the drill in a normal receiver stance at the starting gate and burst off the line on the whistle or "go" command.
  •  As you reach the first gate, sink your hips, reduce your arm action and plant your outside foot.
  •  Push off your outside foot and increase your arm action to propel yourself toward the middle gate at 45-degree angle.
  •  Use the same form to move through the next gate and snap your head around to find the ball on your way to the final gate.

The 3-Step Jab Drill

This drill works on the proper technique, footwork and aiming points for the slant route.

How to:

  • Set up a starting gate. Have a coach hold a bag 6 yards away from the starting gate.
  • Set up two more gates at a 45-degree angle on either side of the coach, about 2 yards away from him.
  • Start the drill in the starting gate with your inside foot up and in a good receiver stance.
  • Explode off the line on the whistle or "go" command. Your goal is to cover 5 yards in your initial three steps.
  • On the third step, plant your outside foot and give a head fake before exploding inside.
  • Upon breaking inside, snap your head toward the QB. Use proper arm action while running, only throwing your hands up when you see the ball coming to you.

Check out more USA Football Drills:


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Topics: FOOTBALL | FOOTBALL DRILLS | RUNNING | COACH | READY FOR SUNDAY | USA-FOOTBALL | THROW | DRILL | STANCE | CONES | RECEIVER