One thing that all the greatest running backs have in common is the ability to keep a run alive. Extending your run by even just another
yard can make all the difference – everyone knows this is a game of inches. Barry Sanders was arguably the greatest running back of all-time, but there is no doubt about it that he had the best balance ever – he was a true escape artist.
But the kind of balance it takes to bounce off of tacklers and somehow staying on your feet despite being tripped up isn’t just a natural talent; it’s a skill you have to work on in practice. That’s why I’ve put together a series of drills to help your running backs out with just that.
Ball Transfer Drill
While it’s great to be able to extend a play a couple extra yards, those extra yards are useless if you fumble the ball. That’s why our first priority is teaching proper technique in transferring the ball from hand to hand.
Our players will line up together, facing the same direction, balancing on one foot. They will start with their right foot up off the ground and the ball in their right hands, with their left hand down on the ground to help them balance.
Now they’ll jump forward, onto their right foot as they transfer the ball from their right to left hands, and extend their right hand out on the ground to help them balance. Player will need to remember to keep the ball tucked against their forearm and pressed up against their body, cradling the ball with both hands to transfer it securely across their body.
They will continue jumping this way for a pre-set distance, about 5-10 yards, and then a second line of kids will follow through.
Stayin’ Alive Drill
Here players will get to practice using their free hand to keep their balance. Have your players line up, and set up about 5 yards away from them with a bag. As they run through, they will keep the ball tucked tight in one arm, and being to stumble as they approach you.
They need to use their hand to keep their balance once before they reach you, and as they reach you, you will swing your bag along the ground, attempting to trip them up, while they need to keep pumping their feet and use their free hand to keep the run alive.
This drill is fantastic for improving balance, and if you wish to simulate a first down or end zone situation, you can place two cones another 5 yards or so behind you to give them a plane to attempt to cross.