I am not a fan of getting too technical when it comes to helping athletes improve their evasive running skills. There are definitely important physical elements to the moves below, but it’s important for athletes to develop these naturally as a deliberate means of manipulating or reacting to a defender. Instead of having players step through cones or past static defenders, have them try their best move in a challenge like this, setting parameters or constraints that elicit different moves:

Sidestep

  • While running straight at defender, step explosively to one side and continue on a straight line
  • Take note of opponent’s body language – hips turned / flat footed / standing tall / bum down are all signs of a player who can be beat with footwork
  • Make sure not to move too early (defender has time to adjust) or too late (defender likely to grab on, if not tackle)
  • Be aware of surroundings – maybe a clean break is on or maybe you’ve drawn more defenders and need to pass

In and Out

  • While on the run, angle toward the defender to turn or freeze him/her
  • Cut away with explosive step in opposite direction

Swerve

  • Start by running straight at defender to ‘fix’ in place
  • Suddenly curl away into space and straighten up

Hop Step

  • Can be an explosive change of direction after a little hop in the air (like Cooper)
  • Can also be subtle, lightly ‘dancing’ into space on one’s toes (like Johnson)

Spin

  • Rotate around the defender, either before contact or after bumping off