Individual drills are important to the growth of every linebacker. There are certain areas that we will work on daily. The basic fundamentals that I want to work every day, regardless of being in pads or shorts, are 1) footwork, 2) blow delivery and 3) tackling.
Linebacker Drills: Footwork
In setting up drills, I want to make sure that we are striking, shedding blocks, covering, and tackling every single. I like to start my individual period with a big emphasis on footwork. We really want to emphasize stance, keys and initial movement.
Some days this may be agility drills or a boot and waggle period that emphasizes stance, keys and initial movement. As we gradually warm up, we will progress to some full speed change of direction drills. In these drills, we want to emphasize that no false steps are taken, we have our cleats in the ground and we have no wasted motion. We want to make sure that we cover our speed turns and our zone turns.
To add to our drills, if we have not had a team turnover circuit, I will put an emphasis on stripping the ball during our individual work. The importance of great footwork cannot be overlooked in the development of the linebacker.
Linebacker Drills: Blow Delivery
Blow delivery is the next area of work that we must work daily. We have a number of drills that we like. Just as we do with our lineman, we start with a six-point explosion drill. The six points being our fingertips, knees and toes all on the ground.
The point of emphasis is hand placement. We want to make sure that our fingers are turned out and our thumbs are pointing upward. We want to keep our elbows as tight as possible throughout the blow delivery. The reason for starting in six-point stance is to work our hip exors and drive our belt buckle to the ground. We want to generate as much power as we can with the big muscles in our legs.
We will progress from a six-point to a two-point blow delivery with the same emphasis on hand placement and hip roll. We like to teach as much technique before we go live, one-on-one, against our offensive line.
Even in shorts, we will work our leverage drill where we will put a defensive player in a leverage position and ask him to explode out of his hips and shed the blocker. The desired results of teaching blow delivery is to effectively deliver a blow, maintain body control, shed blockers and make plays.
Linebacker Drills: Tackling
The final area that we make sure we work daily is tackling. We stress and teach safe tackling. We need to make the game as safe as possible.
We do believe in being physical at the point of attack. During the course of the week, we make sure that we do form tackling, angle tackling, eye-opener, goal line and some form of open-field tackling.
We try to have a defensive team tackle circuit once a week where we have a 10-minute period in which we hit four of these areas. The tackling circuit gives all the defensive coaches an opportunity to coach every single player in a different tackling situation. We want to devote enough time to it each day to ensure that we are a great tackling unit. That comes with time spent on great fundamentals and technique.
John Chavis is defensive coordinator for Texas A&M. You can find other defensive articles on AFCA Weekly as well!