Purpose:

To teach the players the correct series of instincts when a fumble occurs.

Setup:

One cone, one football, and two players.

Execution:

Standing behind the cone, with the players lined up about 10 yards in front of you, throw or roll the football to one side. The player closest to the football will dive on it, secure it, and curl into the fetal position to protect it. His teammate will circle around and look to protect his teammate from any opponents who may be looking to pile on and pry the football loose.

Coaching Tips:

If the players don’t have pads on, keep it simple, roll the ball, and have just one player go for the football. If this is the case were working on simply developing technique and muscle memory, and we want to avoid contact and injury. If the players have got pads on, then you can make it a more competitive drill. Instead of rolling the football, you can really bounce it off the grass, forcing the players to react to the unpredictable bounce and then forcing them to compete – you can even run the drill as a competition in which they fight to see who can win the most fumbles in a series of five, for example.

Tips for Younger Athletes:

  • Emphasize the importance of body positioning when diving for the ball. Teach them to lead with their shoulder, not their hands or head, to prevent injury and ensure a more secure recovery.
  • Introduce the concept of ‘cradling’ the ball once they have possession. Instruct them to use both arms to protect the ball, tucking it close to their chest as they curl into the fetal position.
  • Focus on reaction time and quick decision-making. Use varied throws or rolls to simulate different fumble scenarios, encouraging them to quickly assess the best way to secure the ball.

Tips for Older Athletes:

  • Incorporate agility and balance exercises into the drill. This prepares them to adjust their body quickly and efficiently in response to the unpredictable nature of a fumble.
  • Teach advanced techniques for securing the ball in a pile-up situation. This includes using their legs and lower body to shield the ball and understanding how to use leverage to their advantage.
  • Introduce elements of endurance and resilience. Make the drill more challenging by increasing the number of repetitions or by adding competitive elements, like timing their recovery or adding a scoring system to encourage faster, more aggressive play.