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Drills Report: Daily D-Line Must Drillsby: Andy Cox
former Professional, College, and High School Coach
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Like many things, football is a game that requires you to do a few basic concepts. You have to block, run and tackle. With this in mind, my approach to coaching the D-Line has always been to be sure and hit certain key things everyday. Each day you strive to build and develop the best group that you can possibly have. To do this, you always must strive for perfection within your group. Remember, if you make it important, your group will also. It is very important to know what makes your players want to compete. Each one is a little different; your goal is to bring out their best.
We begin each practice with a group stretch. We always enter and exit the field together as a group. The stretching requires an extra ten minutes, but as you know, if you cannot bend, you cannot play D-Line. The stretch I use is a partner type stretch. Make sure that you require the switch from stretch to stretch with quickness. Also, during this period you will have a chance to get to know what makes each player go. The conversations can become very interesting.
Next, we will be involved with the team stretches and many times a special teams period that falls at the beginning of practice. When we begin individual skills, I like to start with some type of quick agility work. As the season progresses, I will shorten the amount of time spent on this work. For this period, we will use bags or our D-Line chute. Below I have listed the coaching points I use for this timeframe.
1. Pad level – keep them down, as you have to be able to bend. Z’s in the knees.
2. Change Directions – to encourage flexibility.
4. Put the pedal to the metal. Set the tone for practice. Outwork your opponent.
5. Working in a tight space.
6. Finish – ALWAYS finish with a burst, to make plays you must finish.
Try following this drill sequence:
Equipment Needed: 5 bags
1. Demand Perfection - Poor effort = Repeat the rep.
2. Develop the Attitude “Outwork your opponent”.
3. To swarm the ball, you have to go wide open on every snap.
4. Finish with a burst – in the drills we always add a five-yard run to finish.
Coaching Points on the “Thud Tackle Drill”
1. Be perfect.
2. Pad level – Z’s in the knees, head, hands, hips and feet.
3. Eyes up. Arm through the armpits.
4. Roll up the hip. Stick your hips in his belly button.
5. Accelerate – Run your feet onto his.
6. Grab the cloth on the back of his jersey.
7. Finish – Head goes across to the ball, taking the ball carrier back.
The Drill (Diagram 6)
• Have the tackler start the drill by running his feet in place and do not allow him to false step. (This will take some time to get down and some tedious coaching, but it will make them better).
• The Command of “Ready – Ready” will tell the DL to chop his feet.
• Rotation is T becomes BC and BC goes to the back of the line. The rest of the DL are in a line behind the T.
We always angle tackle. We want to develop confidence that they can move and get our head across to tackle. In Diagram 7, we will use a blocker. We always go from a two-point stance. When using a blocker, the ball carrier must adjust when he starts in order to go in relation to the tempo of the D-Linemen release. With a blocker now, you are working hand placement, head, hips, and feet.
Coaching points on the Thud Tackle Drill
1. Be perfect with hands. They have to be in to win.
Next, we will work on hand placement and release techniques. This work will require each player to have a partner. Make sure they know who their partner will be. We always use our stretch partner for the drill partner, as this will eliminate wasting time looking for a new partner and lining up again for each drill.
Andy Cox has a total of 38 years of coaching on the professional, college, and high school level. He was a coach in the British American Football League, the XFL, and the CFL, most recently with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
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