Top 5 Universal Football Coaching Drills
I’ve coached several positions during my time, specifically offensive line, defensive line, runningbacks, linebackers, and you can actually add a few weeks during a youth football camp as a quarterbacks coach. That being said, I wanted to write a post for those new to coaching ranking the top 5 football coaching drills that are, for the most part, universal to every position or ones that can be used by many positions. Let’s be honest. Football drills are the core for teaching technique. Especially for new coaches, I highly suggest focusing on refining your football drills and your ability to teach football technique for your players before heavily investing in anything like X’s and O’s.
Top Football Drills: Stance and Starts
Football Stance and starts is my favorite drill, and one the players and many coaches get bored with relatively easily. It is critical to the continual development of football players of all ages, and by using this football coaching drill in particular over and over again, you won’t let kids get rusty at the important things come mid-season, and also your football players will be able to do these drills in probably about 5 minutes. This means you work on all the core football position specific techniques quickly and efficiently.
For offensive linemen and defensive linemen, stance and starts are critical for building explosion out of a completely awkward body position. For runningbacks, quarterbacks, and fullbacks, this football drill can build acceleration, timing, and help them work on their reads. For linebackers and the defensive secondary it helps prevent false steps and hone the all important reads. For wide receivers, practicing the stance and starts football drills ensures your receiver will be able to take a number of releases. Edit: It should be noted that form tackling is including under this category as well.
What exactly is the “starts” portion? I actually believe going through the 3-5 main skills is your starts. For offensive linemen, that means down blocking, pulling, etc… For defensive linemen, it means reading your key, reacting to pressure, and destroying a block. For skill players, like quarterbacks, you can incorporate bags and work on things like throwing motion while working through bags and keeping the eyes on a target. For defensive skill players, you can work on run fits or hand usage in destroying blocks or in the man or zone drops.
Overall, Stance and Starts should be practiced everyday. For certain positions, you may rotate them a bit. For some positions it is probably pivotal to practice the core skills everyday.
Top Football Drills: Visual Key Drills
Use of the eyes is an underrated skill for players. Heck, if not given a focal point, many players won’t know what to look at! Any football drill which requires the player to use his vision and report on it is critical. Asking a QB to call routes that come open in a scramble drill can be useful. Asking defensive backs to yell out the routes will only help your defense against the pass, and will help the defender to focus on his key. For offensive linemen, making a call to their teammate on a combination block when they leave for the linebacker can be important. Asking defensive linemen to yell out the linemen’s block as they engage the blocker will make sure they understand what they are facing. Asking receivers to yell safety rotation as they execute their route or block can help them understand what to do versus specific defenses.
Overall, visual key football drills, or drills that incorporate vision and communication, are great for the players growth and for the coach to know that the player in question understands where they should be looking.
Top Football Coaching Drills: Team Pursuit/Downfield Drills
We all pretty much know what the defensive pursuit drills are. There are many variations. Some are setup very strict. The defenders react to the playmaker, do their run fit through a cone or something, and pursue until they catch the player. Others simply use a double whistle during all team or position group football drills to simply encourage pursuit. Overall, the football pursuit drill is great for defenders.
But what is the downfield drill? The downfield drill is designed to do the same thing for the offense. Some teams call it “Perfect Play”. The offense executes the perfect play, and it’s up to the offense to sprint to the ball carrier who is called down at a specific point, and then back to the huddle. Are you sick of seeing lazy linemen? Trust me, do this a couple of times and they’ll get used to working down the field after the ball is thrown.
Top Football Drills: Mirror Dodge/Pocket Pursuit
What is Mirror Dodge? Well, many football positions can use it in some way. The player reacts to another player (someone who would be on the opposition) and they mirror their reactions. Defensive backs and offensive linemen use it. Some variations include preventing the opposition from getting any bit beyond the player being coached. The pass protection version can do that, or it can allow the offensive linemen to give up ground grudgingly. Again, another variation is doing this drill without hands in anyway.
For some positions, like Linebackers and defensive linemen, Mirror Dodge is not as effective. However pocket pursuit or heel, line, trail can be useful. The defender needs to stay on the hip pocket of the ball carrier as he changes speed and eventually breaks up the field, where the defender needs to make a form tackle.
Overall, mirror dodge and pocket pursuit football drills help players perform on the fly, in a slower, controlled environment. You can also isolate skill sets, like footwork, by not using hands.
Top Football Coaching Drills: Oklahoma Football Drill
Some people will say that the Oklahoma football drills (I say drills because there are tons of variations) don’t hone skills. I disagree. I think it does. You can use any player from any position (including QB’s for running the ball if you’re brave enough) in this drill. You don’t necessarily need linemen, you can have it be a runningback on a defender. Overall, the Oklahoma football drill is violent, but if done right you can simulate in game scenarios, build team work and character. It also can help those kids who are shy about getting hit, as long as they are placed in a favorable situation initially, warm up to hitting. Don’t place these kids against your most physical players. Often times, you will scare them away. They won’t even try. Build their confidence gradually. This drill often helps you identify who wants reps and who wants to hits versus those who would rather stand around in the back.
Conclusions on Coaching Football Drills
I feel that these football drills are vital for your football team’s growth, and many can be replicated in some fashion for your position. If you guys have any other suggestions, let me know by commenting! Also, thank you for showing up over the past month since the new site and URL launched. I more than doubled my traffic in 30 days compared to the old blog. Finally, for more football drill information, check out ChiefPigskin.com.