ITP Glossary: Three Cone Drill

With the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine getting underway, draft hopefuls will be put through a number of drills to test their speed, agility, explosiveness, and strength. Inside the Pylon is publishing a special set of glossary terms to define some of the drills these players face in Indianapolis.

Three Cone Drill

One of the tests the players will face is the three cone drill. Used to test speed, quickness, agility, and the ability to change direction, this test asks the athletes to run through a series of cones set at a right angle. The player begins in a sprinter’s stance and races forward five yards to touch the ground near the middle cone, then reverses direction back to the starting point to touch the ground there. Then, the player reverses direction and races back to the middle cone, then takes a 90-degree turn to the right to reach the final cone. Here, the athlete runs around the cone to form a figure-eight path, before racing back around the middle cone and returning to the starting point.


The whole route is timed, beginning with the athlete’s first movement and ending when the player crosses the finish line.


In this video from 2007, Notre Dame prospect Mike Richardson executes the three cone drill:

Teams place varying weight on all of the tests performed at the scouting combine, including the three cone drill. It is historically believed that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots place a great deal of emphasis on drafting players who post solid numbers in this test. At the 2010 Scouting Combine Devin McCourty turned in a 6.7 three cone, the second-best number among all cornerbacks. Julian Edelman ran the three cone in 6.62 seconds, another solid number for wide receivers. As the coach himself stated, “Well, I mean, I think it gives you some evaluation of his combination of his lateral movement and his vertical movement,” he said. “We can see the vertical movements in the 10’s, the 40’s – 10, 20, 40, I mean that’s all one drill; the shuttle drill for the skill players, which is a 60-yard test, but it’s all vertical; the 20-yard, 5-10-5, change of direction drill is really a lateral drill; the L drill or the three-cone drill combines a vertical and lateral element with it.”

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Mark Schofield wrote this entry. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

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