Pretty nice video of some offensive line combo drills under the chutes from the Rogers Athletic Company on the Glazier Clinics football drills pages.
4-3 Defensive Line Every Day Football Drills
A long time ago… way too long ago… I started writing a post on 4-3 over front defensive line play (click the link to read that first post btw!). I realized it would take way too much time to turn this only into 2 parts. So here’s my first post on defeating one type of block with specific defensive drills. The importance of 4-3 DL play cannot be understated. In that post, I discussed the reads every defensive linemen in this defense needed, whether it was a visual or a pressure key. These reads I took from a clinic talk I heard from the Wisconsin defesnive line coach, and at that point Wisconsion ran a 4-3 Over which spot dropped. They’re primary goal defensively against the pass was to get an excellent pass rush with their front four and take away the immediate throwing lanes of the offense. Hopefully this post can start to shed some light on how you can execute every day defensive line drills taht can do just that. In my prior post, I discuessed stance and starts. Here, I discuss defensive line drills for defeating specific blocks.
Defensive Drills for Beating the Solo Base Blocks
Solo base blocks, like the scoop block and the regular base block, are becoming more rare, in my opinion. However, there are situations where they occur, especially for defensive ends. I think one of my favorite drills is to start with the whole part whole method and focus on the “part”.
Defensive Line Drill: 6 Point Explosion
Line up your whole group and shade the defenders to one side with a partner. The partner should be arms length away. The defender’s toes, knees, and hands should be on the ground. On some movement key (I suggest giving the offense a snap count and have them move the bags on it for this drill if you have a lot of kids, if you have a small number just use a ball) have the defenders explode up and out (at a 45 degree angle), aiming at the side their shaded to on the pad. They should focus on driving with their toes to create greap hip extension. If they aren’t rolling their hips, tell them to shoot their eyes to the sky and their head up as the drive forward with their body. They should get full extension on the pad by driving their hands.
Explain to your kids that this really should be what they feel when they make contact, except that they should keep their feet bacuse their feet should be moving with their body. By isolating this motion, you let kids who are struggling with the hip roll aspect to understand what you want. They should also understand that the hip roll helps them explode into the blocker and displace them initially. This action needs to be violent, and throwing your hands into the blocker in this drill will do that. Some kids naturally just get hands on a blocker, they don’t know that they need to be violent with their hands. If they execute this drill correctly, they should see that. The hand strike is critical for the block destruction phase.
Defensive Line Drills: Block Destruction
How many times do you see a defensive end get the perimeter and not make a play? They may even disengage the blocker. So this is a two part defensive line drill. I believe we as defensive line coaches tend to condition our kids to just want to disengage. That is the first part of this pair of defensive line drills. However, we don’t tell them when, which is what I try to do with the second drill or second part of this defensive line drill. They need to understand that they should disengage after they deystroy the block, after that intial hip explosion and hand strike that they worked on in the 6 point drill above.
I tell my kids that block destruction doesn’t matter if you aren’t in a position to make the tackle. So when my drills for defensive line block destruction, I focus on offensive linemen hand displacement. We need to be active after that initial shock. Sometimes kids are so worried about their rip. How about we knock the hands down after we shock the blocker. What I do is I place the kids on an outside shade on a blocker. They are in a 2 point stance, after taking their 6 inch read step and they’re in their leverage step (taken when the blockers knee comes at you … you step slightly outside with your outside foot to make sure you keep your leverage). The next step is a power step at the inside heel of the linemen. We take that step in this drill, from the 2 point stance, and make contact with the blocker he makes his move. The blocker is instructed to either scoop or base block the defender, and once he does that the defensive linemen strikes. He should step and strike the blocker with both hands. As he does that, he will gain a small amount of seperation on the offensive linemen (coaching point, make sure there is no bend in the elbows here, that will ensure maximum arm length when combined with good knee bend and shoulders over the knee to keep pad level down). As soon as he makes that contact and he feels the offensive linemen displaced, he should begin his push pull technique. It should be one snap motion that is fluid when this is polished. As soon as he finishes the push pull, the blocker’s pads should be perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. The defender at this point should violently slam his forearms on the blocker’s wrists and begin a rip move where he steps with his inside foot outside the blocker. Now he has defeated the block and outleveraged the player at the point of attack.
Block Destruction: Make the Tackle
The final part of the block destruction defensive line drill is to make the tackle. This should be incorperated into as many defensive line drills as possible. After getting better at defeating the block, the defensive linemen should be asked to make a tackle. The ball carrier should be given an angle outside the blocker, and asked to run at half speed at first, then full speed as the kids get the concept. This will ensure success and belief in the technique.
One side note. A lot of defensive coaches want to stress making a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. While I will say that, I am happy if we make the tackle even a little beyond it. The reaction speed of defensive linemen to engage, disengage, and make a tackle is tough, especially at lower levels. If you stress making plays behind the LOS too much, kids will just try to shoot the gap and then when you get mad at them for not using technique, they will think the technique is crap. This leads me to another point, don’t pull the legs out from your technique. Kids will become sloppy and defeat blocks easier in practice using bad technique. Demand perfection on technique. Don’t demand it on things like making the tackle before the ball carrier makes the line of scrimmage, or else when kids fail at that they’ll think the technique, and you as a coach, are failing. In general, for defenisve line drills, remember you care about the technique, and you care about the tackle, but focus on only one aspect at a time.
Defensive Line Drills: Executing The Rip Move with a Towel
I think executing the rip move is something we all stress as coaches, and it appears in many defensive line drills. I like the towel drill. Put it behind the blocker. The defensive linemen should be can be in a 2 or 3 point stance. The blocker should give little resistance. The emphasis of the drill is the long rip move. We all try to stress ripping to the grass and up to the sky. We can get the grass easily with the towel drill. The DL, after making contact, rips to scoop the towel. I, however, ask the kids to release the towel at the end of their rip so it goes behind them and over their head. This forces the rip to go HIGH in the air, an often undercoached aspect but much needed way to force the blocker to disengage his hands completely.
Another small coaching tip on the Rip Towel Drill is the idea that the towel is not completely flat on the ground. Use big towels as well. I like the towel to be raised, like a napkin at a 5 star restaurant before you sit down, so the kid doesn’t have to worry so much about the grabbing of the towel but the action of the rip move. Also, by giving them a toweel that is larger, you give them a better opporunity to grab it if they are off to the left or the right. Kids will focus on grabbing the towel if you tell them too, not as much the technique. By making the towel bigger, they don’t have to worry about grabbing it as much to be successful in the drill. It’s also important to tell them you’re doing the drill to work on the rip move, not on grabbing the towel. I made the mistake of not saying that once and I litterally had a few kids stop the rip movement to pick up the towel. Like … literraly bend over to pickup the towel.
Defensive Line Drills: Push Pull Technique and Thumbs Up with a Towel
I like to use towels in my drills if you haven’t guessed. The next part works on two areas, the push pull technique and how to keep the elbows in and the thumbs up. The defensive linemen starts shaded again on the blocker in a perfect fit position. His hands are already on the offensive linemen, and he’s ready to execute the push pull technique. His elbows are in and his thumbs are up. Have a player (or you yourself) put a towel right over his elbows. On some key, he executes just the push pull aspect. If the towel falls THROUGH THE MIDDLE, that means the elbows worked outside in the push pull action (btw, another coaching point, the DL should be moving the blocker back into the backfield in this drill a couple of steps). This drill enables you force the defensive linemen to keep their thumbs up throughout the whole process of the push pull so they don’t lose power. It also refines the skill and keeps the hands tighter, which allows them to more quickly and efficiently disengage the blockers hands when the time comes.
Defensive Line Drill Conclusions
I hope to continue this series on defensive line drills for the 4-3 defense over time for each block type. Hopefully I can cover 3 or 4 defensive line drills in each post. It’s hard to do this level of detail for each block and each one of the many defensive line drills in a blog… so maybe I will try to do some video. I hope this provides the necessary detail for a few drills. I also didn’t copy edit this yet… (I’m writing it on my blog while I’m away from home on an iPad) so please forgive me for misspellings.
I would like to honestly say that Chief Pigskin has some great drill videos. You should take a look. Also, if you’re interested in other position drills, like offensive line drills or running back drills, continue to read Strong Football. Finally, check out these every day football blocking drills.
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.