How to Improve Your 5-10-5 Time

Author: Dr. Matt Zirretta

The 5-10-5, aka the Pro Agility Drill is the method of choice to measure an athlete’s speed/quickness with change of direction. This is a drill you will see at the NFL Combine and also here at Engineered Per4mance prior to starting our sports performance training program, Alpha Athlete. The 5-10-5 is the definition of agility – The ability to accelerate, decelerate, stop, and reaccelerate.

The Test

  1. Start by straddling the middle line
  2. Explode laterally, running 5 yards right and touch the line with your hand
  3. Sprint 10 yards left and touch the line with your hand
  4. Sprint 5 yards right back to the middle line


  1. Stagger your feet. Place the foot in the direction you plan to go first slightly behind the other foot. This allows you to open your hips when exploding laterally in the initial 5-yard segment.
  2. Distribute your weight unevenly. Load the leg in the direction you plan to go first (your back foot). This allows you to save time by not having to shift your weight to get yourself moving.
  3. Gain ground on your first step. Explode laterally on your first movement by pushing off the back leg and taking a cross over step with the other. I see way too many athletes take a drop-step to get moving = wasted time.
  4. 80% speed going into first turn. The first 5-yard segment is short and quick. Not getting up to full speed might seem silly since the test is timed, but the faster you go the harder it’ll be to slow your body to change directions.
  5. Stay low.  Stay low during your turns to change directions more efficiently. The higher your center of gravity, the more difficult it’ll be to decelerate and reaccelerate. Elephant versus cheetah, who will change directions quicker?
  6. Lean inside, plant outside.  As you approach a turn you will set your inside foot with a bent knee and touch the line with the outside foot. This allows you to have weight on the inside leg, which is in the direction you will be accelerating after touching the line.
  7. Sprint THROUGH the finish. Do not pull up. Even though you only have to sprint 5 yards, think of it as 10 yards and sprint to the far line.

Clinical Insight

    Although this is a test of speed/agility it is also a test of balance when having to change directions rapidly. Most young athletes’ bodies are growing and changing, which impacts their kinesthetic sense (body awareness). Core strength is the pillar of an athlete’s stability and helps them recognize where their body is in space. “Proximal stability for distal mobility”. Incorporating core stabilization exercises and balance activities (both static and dynamic) along with speed/agility training will help decrease your 5-10-5 time.

Joseph GlennComment