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Letter From the Editor/Publisher: Being an Effective Linebacker

by: Rex Lardner
Editor American Football Monthly
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Chris Tormey is the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Washington. Having been a position coach, defensive coordinator and head coach, Tormey has learned from his mentors: Don James, Dennis Erickson, and Tyrone Willingham. With more than a quarter century devoted to coaching and especially linebackers, Tormey has formulated his own thoughts on a linebackers progress for success. He calls it: C.A.S.K.R.E.P.T.

1. “Communicate: It is the linebacker’s responsibility to communicate the defensive call, the strength call for alignment, the offensive formation, alignment of offensive personnel, and any motion or shift adjustments.”

2. “Alignment: The effective linebacker should know what his primary threats are based on formation tendencies and the defense called.”

3. “Stance: The stance should allow the linebacker to move in any direction with relative ease. There should be a slight bend in the ankles, knees and hips with hands in the ready position just below the waist but never resting on the thigh pads.”

4. “Key: Eye progression is an important element to playing fast. We teach a triangle key progression in zone coverage and a flow key progression in man coverage. For us, triangle means linemen to backs and flow means backs to linemen. The guard-center-near back triangle is a faster and truer key for gap schemes such as counter and power. Pre-snap keys include line splits, weight distribution of the linemen, receiver splits, and reading the eyes of both the running backs and quarterback.”

5. “Reaction: Focus on keys should enable the linebacker to read and diagnose the play in a fraction of a second. Information should be processed and film study and instincts should take over. He who hesitates can’t play fast!”

6. “Execution: This is the mastery of technique. Identifying the techniques that need to be executed and putting a plan together to drill these techniques during fall camp and throughout the season is a critical piece in preparing players to play fast.”

7. “Pursuit: Pursuit is effort. They won’t play fast if they don’t know what fast is. Fast is full speed. As fast as you can go, everything else is loafing. If an average play lasts 8 seconds, then 2 seconds is reaction time and 6 seconds is pursuit and tackle. That’s 75% of every play. We are responsible for the effort we get from our players.”

8. “Tackle: We spend more time on tackling than any other skill sets we teach. Tackling is still best learned in team situations in practice.”

An all-conference linebacker in college, Tormey was recently selected to the University of Idaho Athletics Hall of Fame.

We hope you enjoy this issue of AFM.


Rex Lardner
AFM Managing Editor
561-355-5068 (x 329)


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