Combine 5-10-5 Shuttle Run Coaching – Garage Strength

Combine 5-10-5 Shuttle Run Coaching

When we are talking about the shuttle run, specifically the 5-10-5 shuttle run traditionally performed at the NFL combine, collegiate football summer camps and high school football assessments, we are talking about a closed skill event that is used to test a range of sports performance markers. Though the test is best known in the sport of football, we are starting to witness other sports like soccer, lacrosse, baseball and basketball use this test for athlete assessment as well. 

Yes, the 5-10-5 shuttle run may be a closed skill event, but coaches realize it will show a few key elements behind the athlete. For instance, evaluators will see the athlete start by moving five yards, to either their right or left, touch at the five yard marker with the outside hand and then turn and sprint as rapidly as possible, driving quickly to a higher speed for ten yards, breaking down on that final step on that ten yard path to cut, turn around and run five yards like heading out of a burning building. 

Simply put: run five yards as fast as possible, turn around, run 10 yards as fast as possible, turn around and run five yards as fast as possible. The best athletes barely take four seconds to complete the task.

As simple as it sounds to perform, the test is latent with sports performance markers. It tests a whole bunch of different aspects.

Performance Demands Needed To Excel

We know the athlete starts with a static contraction that needs to propel them laterally; technique is involved in optimizing performance. Knowing that technique is involved, coaches need their athletes to focus on the first two, side driving steps. The athlete will almost side shuffle as they drive towards that five yard line.

Arriving at the five yard line, the athlete will be breaking down, creating a very steep shin angle to generate a lot of force within a very deep position. In turn, this tests how rapidly the athlete can get out of that steep position. The athlete has to have a dynamic contraction after the initial static contraction, with a ton of force absorption within the first turn, utilizing that force to get out of there.

Now the athlete is entering into what is essentially a dynamic start position for a sprint, so the athlete has to come out of that first cut as quickly as possible, accelerating rapidly. This is very similar to the first five to ten yards of a 40 yard dash or 100 meter dash. The athlete will get to the ten yard marker, having to repeat, at a higher speed, the cut to get out. This deeper cut will require an even deeper shin angle to maximize performance and greatly contribute to the deceleration, reacceleration to the finish line.

The key elements point to the athlete needing to have good static contractions that explode right off the back, along with key dynamic contractions, testing force absorption, force production out of different cuts and it will even test maximal strength and how maximal strength is used. Finally, it will test the athlete’s mobility because of the steep angles the test puts the body into. Because of the steep angles, the knees, ankles, hips and lower back have to be able to handle all of these key components. That in a nutshell is technical coordination.

Transfer To The Field

We have to recognize that even though the 5-10-5 shuttle run is a closed skill; it is not an open skill like playing a field sport. However, the 5-10-5 shuttle run is going to show coaches which side athletes may have some weaknesses on, how well the athlete learns a technique, how well the athlete attacks the test, their mindset, their competitiveness, but also how well the athlete can control deceleration, acceleration and how quickly they can decelerate immediately into reacceleration.

There is a lot of agility involved in the 5-10-5 shuttle run. There is a lot of change of directions. If it was just those two factors, we can easily see how the test transfers really, really well to the field.

Executing The Perfect 5-10-5 Shuttle Run

To begin, the athlete wants to be straddling the starting line in a decent, comfortable position. Don’t be too wide and don’t be too narrow. Also, try to cheat as much as possible in the initial direction to be sprinted. But be warned, if it is too much of a cheat, officials will put it on blast.

The key coming out of the start is taking a side step followed by two more side steps, into a little jump cut coupled with a light swipe on the line. All of the weight will be on the inside leg going out of the first cut. Recognize that running the shuttle is recognizing that it is a technique. Think, “One, two, three, and cut on four.”

Coming out of the first cut, turn with a steep shin angle, entering into the acceleration phase, the drive phase in a 40 yard dash, we can time it and take the necessary steps to plan out ground impacts to arrive just before the ten yard cut. Typically it is five steps, with the cut arriving on the sixth step. From there it is two, two and a half, sometimes three steps to finish through the line, stopwatch timer deactivated and eagerly awaiting word of the results.

A big key factor in executing is getting the reps with the exact same steps every single time to create a good feeling, a flow of performing the test. Also recognize that cutting will feel similar to single leg squats, cossack squats and blasting through the repeated feelings of the 40 yard dash start. Also, stay low. It is easier to cut with a steeper shin angle when low.


A clean first cut sets up a better approach. A clean first cut is executed through hammering repetitions to perfect technique. Analyzing the approach and most efficient way to execute a skill is paramount to improving performance in the event. The 5-10-5 shuttle run, a closed skill test, eliminates the necessity to react in real time to opponents and outside forces; this creates an optimal environment to attack the test for success. Hammer the steps needed, utilize the steep shin angle and stay low in cuts to optimize the deceleration-reacceleration demands of the event. Eliminate extra steps and remember to mobilize to hit the best positions for performance. 


Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.

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