Speed is a huge asset for any running back – I think that’s something every coach can agree on. But speed in football is more than just
running fast, otherwise every track star would be a star on the grid iron. It’s important not only to get in and out of your cuts quickly, but to be able to read the defense with speed, finding the hole, and exploding out past the defense.
In a zone blocking scheme especially, the first cut is absolutely crucial. The defense is either going to flow outside, or try toFull push through the middle. Your running back needs to be able to read the initial movement and react accordingly, ideally leaving his opponents in the dust.
Here are a couple of drills I like to use to work on these skill specifically: one working on the physical speed, and one improving the speed of the read.
Full Speed Cuts
Here we focus on running speed. Over a 10 yard length set up five cones, all offset and evenly spaced apart so that if you looked at them from the side they would resemble either an M or a W. Now have your runners line up at one end of the cones. The goal here is to make all five cuts, changing directions while sacrificing as little top end speed as possible.
Don’t forget to try changing the total distance of the course; stretching it out to 20 yards or even cutting it down to 7.5 or even 5 yards.
Zone Mesh Drill
Here we work on the mental game. Were going to have two sets of quarterbacks and runners going at once, to make the most effective use of time and space. Have your quarterback line up with the runner in the backfield waiting on his signal. On the right side on the other side of the line of scrimmage, a defender will line up as well. The second set of players will line up in a mirror image of this, so that the QBS are both facing each other at the line.
When the QB hikes the ball, he will handoff to the back on the right side. The defender will be waiting for him and will simply either slide outside, or stay inside. The runner has to keep his eye on the defender, and use the same technique they used in the Full Speed Cuts drill two cut to the opposite direction as the defender.
You can run this full contact, but personally I prefer to eliminate the possibility of getting tackled for the runner in this situation, allowing him to focus on speed and proper technique, rather than deking out the defender.
That’s all folks. If your looking for more drills to help improve your running backs, click the link! And don’t forget to comment below if you’ve got any questions or suggestions!