Running a Better Team Session by Hindering the DL to Have More Players Make Plays in Team Sessions

By Ned Panfile


We often have trouble with our ‘look squad’ blocking our defensive linemen during our team defense session. No matter how much we tell the D-line to back off, we can’t get a view about how well other people make plays. We often do two different things to better the view during our defensive team session.

The first way we will see if other players are making plays is to remove the defensive line placing barrels to where they would align. We rarely do this, but sometimes it is necessary. Our look squad then performs their blocks according to a drawn hudl script and the look linemen who are drawn to block linebackers will perform their block. Others drawn to defensive linemen will go to a knee at the barrel. This really enables the coaches to see the way the players are reading keys and allows the look squad to get easily to their blocks at varsity speed.

The better way, we found, to use team time, to get your look squad to block and have a full defense in team session is to give your defensive linemen hand shields to hold on one of their hands. We put it in the outside hand (away from the center) because their inside hand is down. The defensive line holds the shield across the two handles on the back of the shield giving the look squad a bigger target. They can then grab the shield while performing their block and it slows down the forward movement of the defensive linemen. We find this very effective during the season where we see missed reads and missed gap fills from our linebackers and edge players and struggles for our corner force. We also will implement the bags half way through team sessions when we see too many plays being made by the defensive linemen.

We find that our defensive linemen tend to dominate our team sessions, so we will hinder the defensive linemen to give the other players on the defense a chance to make plays. The coaches want to see if their players are making the right reads, filling the proper gaps and finishing the plays. It gets our look squad with a better chance to play at varsity speed and execute blocks they could not with the defensive line at full speed. And last, but not least, it shows if angles of pursuit, angles on blitz and fill angles are proper. We only will do it for half the session, but the coaches find it to be helpful to watch their position without the chaos of the defensive line.