Setup:

Four cones, used to create a rectangle about 10 yards wide and 5 yards deep. Your players will form four lines on the long side of the rectangle, separated by position – defensive linemen, defensive ends, linebackers, and defensive backs.

Purpose:

Teaching the proper stance, and ensuring players are balanced and able to come out of it explosively in any direction.

Adding lateral movement to the drill.

Execution:

Once the players are in stance take a second to correct any mistakes. Then stand or crouch across from them on the other side of the rectangle, and hike the ball off the ground. The players will all explode out of their stance on the movement of the ball, slowing down to a stop once they’ve crossed the rectangle, and returning to the back of their respective lines.

When they’re comfortable with that, we’ll add a second aspect to the drill. Instead of just hiking the ball, hold it out to the left or right. The players will then move in the corresponding direction, adjusting accordingly as you move the ball left, right, and lastly pointing it behind you, signaling them to explode past you.

Coaching Tips:

Don’t underestimate the importance of a strong stance. At every level, from PeeWee up to the NFL, the stance is the first thing you should go over in practice. It makes for a good warmup, and drills in the importance of getting a great first step. You also want to keep in mind that every position is going to have a slightly different stance – your defensive backs aren’t going to be playing out of a three point stance in games, so there’s no point in having them do so in practice. This is why we separate the lines by position.

  • Emphasize the importance of maintaining a low center of gravity and balanced weight distribution in the stance. This ensures players can move quickly in any direction without losing balance.
  • Train players to keep their eyes on the ball at all times. Reacting to the ball’s movement rather than sound cues or guessing can significantly improve their response time.
  • Encourage players to make slight adjustments in their stance based on the situation, such as widening their feet for more stability or leaning slightly forward for a faster start.
  • Focus on developing explosive power in the legs through strength and conditioning exercises. This will enhance their ability to launch out of their stance quickly and powerfully.
  • Instill in players the habit of mental preparedness. They should be mentally reviewing their role and potential movements as they get into their stance, which helps in quicker decision-making once the play starts.

Tips for Younger Athletes:

  • Teach younger players a basic, comfortable stance before adding complexity. Ensure they understand the fundamentals of a balanced and stable stance.
  • Use engaging and fun drills to teach stance and starts, keeping the interest levels high among younger players.
  • Offer constant encouragement and positive reinforcement, especially when they make correct stance adjustments or react quickly during drills.

Tips for Older Athletes:

  • Introduce more advanced techniques, such as staggered stances or different types of starts, to challenge older athletes.
  • Teach older players to adjust their stance based on the opponent’s formation or the specific play they anticipate.
  • Incorporate reaction-based drills, where players must quickly adapt to unexpected changes in direction or speed, mimicking game-like scenarios.