In my opinion, there are three key components to playing excellent defensive football. When I work with my linebackers, everything we do in our individual periods is explained to them as “building a house”. The most basic, fundamental skills we teach form the foundation of our house. As we progress, and get more advanced, we’re working on walls, windows, doors, etc. But, none of that stuff matters if our foundation collapses. At Norwich, the foundation of our linebacker house is built with bricks made of three things:
- Attacking and getting off of blocks (D.O.B.)
- Tackling well
This blog installment will focus on the “second” brick – one of our D.O.B. drills. I put this particular drill together, piece by piece, over a period of a couple of years. The primary inspiration for this drill actually came from working the camp circuit. I’ve worked camps over the years where I had access to an abundance of equipment, and I’ve also worked camps where I got just a patch of grass – often unlined. This drill became a way for me to get a large amount of quick, quality reps with the guys without having to use a single piece of equipment.
Players should form two single file lines. The first player in line turns to face the second player. This player is the “blocker”. They should be approximately a yard apart. I typically position myself between the two lines.
On command, the players facing “out” will step and punch. I have them step with their outside foot. We get three quick reps here (set, hit – set, hit – set, hit). We concentrate on hand placement, pad level, and force. We then rotate with the “blocker” going to the end of the line. After cycling through the entire group we add the next component: extension. They will replicate the first step with one step/punch. They then return to their stance. The next command is “fit”. The LB will place his hands in the “post-punch” position, with some flexion in his elbows. Next, I issue a “feet” command. The LB will violently lock out his arms while his feet become “live” (emphasize pad level and quick feet while not physically moving forward).
Again, we will cycle through the entire group and then move onto the escape part of the drill. We start at the top again with a single step/punch, and then repeat the fit/feet component. At this point, while they are in a locked-out position with live, fast feet, I give a “rip” command. Each player will rip off the block to the outside. My focus is on good rip technique, tight fits off their blocker, and re-stacking the blocker with square hips to adjust to a ball-carrier.
I’ve found this drill to be an extremely effective way to get a lot of quality work done in a short amount of time. Because we constantly start from the first step and add to it, our guys understand that it’s all a progression and the foundations are important. When time permits, we often add a RB to the drill to hammer home the points of square hips and live feet for open field situations.
If you are interested in seeing this drill performed, please get in touch and I can have a clip of it sent to you. I can be reached at email@example.com. As always, I love meeting and talking to coaches.