Change of Direction Accessorization
Written by Holden Rethwill

Today’s topic is going to be about being an athlete. It’s something we neglect a fair amount in the CrossFit world, which is why so many people who compete in CrossFit are phenomenal CrossFitters, but aren’t necessarily phenomenal “athletes”.

So what’s something that typical sports do a lot of, but that we don’t do much of in CrossFit?

I’m talking abou change of direction. The ability to move laterally in an explosive manner without blowing out of your shoes or needing a new hip.

If you followed the At-Home program during the shutdowns, we started to add a good amount of this in, but there’s still just not enough of it in the CrossFit space. This all became extremely evident to me when we ran the sprint event at the CrossFit Games. Athletes were fast in the straight line portion, but where was the event won? In the ability to turn around and come back, then navigate quickly through the pylons.

Let me just say this…you could tell who grew up playing sports, and who was just good at exercising fast. There’s just a noticeable difference in the fluidity of motion between athletes who played sports like football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, soccer, etc. and those who did not.

What does change of direction mean?

Quite literally it is: the act of changing the direction in which something is oriented.

Change of Direction in Sports

But what does that mean in sports?

Change of direction goes through three phases…

The Braking Phase


The Propulsive Phase


The Transition Phase 


All three phases are important for an athlete when it comes to being able to go from one spot to another, and then back, as quickly as possible.

Drills to Improve Change of Direction

Getting good at this will only improve your fitness and explosive/dynamic ability, so why not add some in?

Lateral Shuffles

these have been a staple in the at home program.. set a couple cones apart and slide back and forth between them without crossing your feet

Cone Drills


(think NFL Combine)


(another common one in football)

Box Drill

– Create a box with 4 shoe boxes (each box approx 10ft apart), and in the middle set a box containing 4 tennis balls.
– As quickly as you can place each tennis ball in a separate box – all 4 corners.
– Rest…then as quickly as you can, return the balls back to the center box…this drill is killer.
– For an added challenge, keep your shoulders facing the same direction (forces lateral ability as well as backwards ability).

Depth Drops to a Lateral Jump

Drop off an object 16-24 inches high, when you land, explosively jump in one direction or the other.

Lateral Box Jumps 

Be careful, don’t mess up your shins!

Out and Backs 

Also often called line drills or suicides in sports like basketball and volleyball.

Lateral Throws

Ladder Drills

Fast feet = fast you!

A variety of lifts…All of these are GREAT for building muscle in a dynamic fashion, which translates over to the ability to change direction quickly.

Half Squats

Power Snatches

Power Cleans

T-Bar Deadlifts

Cossack Squats

Weighted Jumps

Like I’ve said in all my posts about accessories so far…this is not a full list, that would be exhausting because there are legitimately infinite possibilities for training. That said, I wrote a 6-week accessory program that is a good starting point for those of you looking to up your athletic ability, or maybe dominate your next beach volleyball game.