What are Up Downs in Football?

Football is a highly intense sport that demands both skill and mental and physical toughness. To prepare players for the grueling challenges they will face on the field, coaches incorporate various conditioning drills into their training programs. One such drill that is dreaded by players is the “Up Downs.” In this article, we will explore what Up Downs are, how they are typically run, and even offer a variation to enhance the drill’s effectiveness.

What are Up Downs in Football?

Up Downs are a challenging conditioning drill commonly included in off-season workouts, such as spring practices or training camps. While they may not be utilized as frequently during the regular season, they serve as a crucial team-building exercise. The primary goal of Up Downs is to push players to their limits, helping them develop both physical and mental endurance necessary for football.

How to Run Up Downs

Up Downs in Football

Running Up Downs is relatively simple, requiring no specific skills but a high level of effort and determination.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to execute this drill effectively:

  1. Starting Position: Players begin in a standing position, feet shoulder-width apart, and arms relaxed at their sides.
  2. Whistle Start: When the coach blows the whistle, all players simultaneously start jogging in place, chopping their feet rapidly.
  3. Whistle Down: At the next whistle blow, players must immediately drop to the ground, performing a belly flop motion.
  4. Return to Standing: Once players hit the ground, they quickly get back up into the standing position.
  5. Repeat and Persevere: As soon as players are upright, they resume chopping their feet in place, and the cycle continues with each subsequent whistle blow.

The key to Up Downs is to maintain constant movement without any breaks, fostering endurance and mental toughness.

An “Up Downs” Variation: Adding Sprinting

Up Downs Variation

For coaches looking to add an extra challenge and intensity to the Up Downs drill, there is a variation that incorporates sprinting. This variation combines elements of Gassers and Up Downs to further develop players’ physical and mental resilience.

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Here’s how to execute the sprinting variation:

  1. Positioning: Have all players line up at one sideline, facing the opposite sideline. Ensure enough space between players to allow for safe belly flops.
  2. Starting Motion: Players start running across the width of the field at about half speed or more.
  3. Whistle Down: When the coach blows the whistle, players perform a belly flop on the ground, quickly get back up, and continue running.
  4. Sprint Back: Upon reaching the opposite sideline, players turn around and sprint back to the original starting sideline.
  5. Repeat and Rest: After each sprint, players resume the drill by belly flopping, getting up, and continuing the cycle. Once players return to the starting sideline, they can rest briefly before either ending the drill or running it one more time.

Adding sprinting to the Up Downs drill enhances cardiovascular endurance and further challenges players’ physical capabilities.

The Benefits of Up Downs in Football

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While Up Downs are often met with dread by players, they serve a vital purpose in football training.

Let’s explore the benefits of incorporating Up Downs into conditioning programs:

Building Physical Endurance

Up Downs are specifically designed to push players beyond their limits, building stamina and endurance. By continuously moving and transitioning from standing to floored positions, players train their muscles to withstand physical exertion for extended periods. This endurance is crucial for football players, as the game demands sustained effort throughout the entire duration.

Developing Mental Toughness

Football is not only physically demanding but also mentally challenging. Up Downs require mental fortitude as players must push through fatigue and discomfort to keep going. By enduring the grueling nature of this drill, players develop mental toughness, enabling them to stay focused and determined even in high-pressure situations on the field.

Strengthening Core and Upper Body

Up Downs engage multiple muscle groups, including the legs, core, low back, and upper body. The explosive movements involved in transitioning from standing to the push-up position and back strengthen the core and upper body muscles. This enhanced strength contributes to improved stability, agility, and overall performance on the football field.

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Tips for Effective Up Downs Execution

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To maximize the benefits of Up Downs and ensure safe and effective execution, consider the following tips:

  • Proper Form: Emphasize the importance of maintaining proper form throughout the drill. Encourage players to keep their movements controlled and avoid unnecessary vertical movements of the hips.
  • Incremental Progression: Start with shorter durations and fewer repetitions, gradually increasing the intensity and volume as players become more accustomed to the drill. This gradual progression helps prevent injuries and allows players to build endurance progressively.
  • Variations for Challenge: Once players have mastered the basic Up Downs, incorporate variations to provide a continued challenge. This can include adding jumps after returning to the standing position, kicking legs out to the sides, or even performing the drill on one leg.


Up Downs in football may be dreaded by players, but they play a crucial role in building endurance, mental toughness, and overall physical fitness. Coaches utilize this challenging conditioning drill to prepare players for the demands of the game. By incorporating Up Downs into training programs and potentially adding variations, players can develop the necessary physical and mental resilience to excel on the football field.

So, embrace the challenge and push through the grueling Up Downs to reach new heights in your football journey.

Elvis Cook
Elvis Cook

Hello, I'm Elvis Cook, the author of PlayfulFootball.com. As a former football player, I bring a unique perspective and firsthand experience to the content I create. Having played football myself, I have a deep passion and understanding of the game. My personal experiences on the field have shaped my love for football and ignited a desire to share my knowledge and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

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