By Jacquis McCray Jr., Defensive Line Coach, Salisbury University
There are four words that come to mind when I think about great linebackers: eyes, feet, hands and nish. These four words should be emphasized every day in practice. Part one of this series focuses on the linebacker’s eyes.
Training The Feet
Linebackers, along with every other position on the field, must have great feet. Once the linebacker has quickly read his key, now it is time to react to that key. He must now get to his assignment and execute it as soon as possible.
It all starts with stance. Linebackers should not come out of their stance with a false step. There should be no wasted movement. The second that is being wasted with the false step is sometimes the difference the offensive player needs to engage, lock up, and block a linebacker.
When pursuing the football, linebackers need to have their feet under them and be under control at all times. Throughout the course of the game, linebackers will frequently have to change directions on every play. Because of that, linebackers must be very comfortable playing in space.
Pre-practice is the time when the linebackers will be working on their agility and quickness. I may choose to use cones, agility bags, or just do something as simple as working on their pass drops.
Linebackers should be able to change directions, play in space, and run around things on the ground while keeping their head up and staying under control. Once a linebacker has read his key, he needs to react and move as soon as possible.
Part three of this series will focus on the importance of great hands play for linebackers. Stay tuned!
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