The 3 Cone Drill, also known as the L-Drill, is considered by many coaches to be the most important at the combine to predict on-field performance. The drill illustrates the athletes’ ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction in a small space as well as force the athlete to make three separate types of turns. The easiest way to break down the drill for maximum performance is to look at each turn and how to make them as quick as possible.
Before we look at the turns involved in the 3 Cone Drill lets look at the start. The start to the drill should be the same as the start for the 40 Yard Sprint. Due to the nature of the drill the athlete should look to keep a low center of gravity throughout the duration of the drill. With each section only being 5 yards, the athlete will always be either accelerating or decelerating to change direction.
The first and second turn in the drill is a 180-degree turn in which the athlete needs to touch the cone. When doing so they should be facing inward on both turns to avoid losing time by spinning. These turns are performed the same way as during the Pro-Agility Drill. The athlete should have their steps planned out and practiced. They should lower their center of gravity as they approach the cone, leaning in towards the direction they are changing to while they touch the cone. Between turn one and two the athlete should remain facing laterally.
When performing the third turn the athlete does not need to touch the cone. The turn is 90-degrees and less deceleration is necessary than in the first or second. The athlete should approach this turn with their hips and shoulders square to the cone and only slightly lower their center of gravity as they make the turn. To make the turn, the athlete should take two hard steps to decelerate and change direction. The first step should be with the inside foot, followed by the outside foot. Lastly, the inside foot steps toward the third cone facing and accelerating towards it.
The fourth turn is a 180-degree turn performed without touching the cone. This turn is like the previous one except that more steps are required. The exact number of steps is based on the athlete and how proficient they are at decelerating and re-accelerating their body. The important part is for them to keep their feet moving throughout the turn, get their hips and shoulders square to the second cone so they can accelerate towards it after completing the turn.
The final turn should be performed in the same way as the third turn, just in the opposite direction. Like all drills, at the finish the athlete should emphasize “finishing through the line” to ensure the best possible time. Also like the other drills, when prepping close to an event, the emphasis should be on technical mastery of each drill. The more consistent the athlete is the more efficient they will be, which will inevitably lead to faster times.