The “Hard Turn” is a special teams drill that is complimentary to reading the upfield shoulder.
Sometimes the player misreads the upfield shoulder. When they do this, they will go beyond the point where the ball carrier/returner is headed. Your players need to learn how to effectively work around a blocker, take a good pursuit angle, and understand that they should not follow the tackler, but get themselves into a proper pursuit angle for cutback action.
Remember – in this type of situation, the player has left his lane, which is exactly what the return team wants you to do, because you are opening up a gap that the ball carrier can burst through!
Sometimes the player doesn’t gear down fast enough and they get caught into the blocking scheme. This is a scenario that often happens in real game play, which is why the “Hard Turn” is a great special teams drill to run in your practice. It teaches your players to learn how to plant their feet and come back towards the ball carrier from underneath.
Important Notes about the “Hard Turn” Drill for Special Teams:
- Always keep control of the blocker because you don’t want him to be able to attack back at you.
- When the player works back to the ball carrier, he needs to work back in a good pursuit angle, looking for the cutback and being sure to re-close your lane.
- You do NOT want to follow the ball carrier, because you leaving your lane wide open… and that is not sound football!