If you favor a more bruising running style than the Barry Sanders Balance Drills from last week, these might be the drills for you. One of
the first names that comes up when you talk about the greatest running backs of all-time, is my personal favorite, Walter “Sweetness” Payton. Now if you haven’t had the privilege of seeing the legend play, do not be fooled by the nickname – he was one tough runner.
He loved and invited contact, and was famous for never. ever. running out of bounds. He fought for every inch he could get on every single play, and as coaches, I’m sure that’s a quality that we can all agree we would love to have in all of our players. So today, instead of looking at how to make a quick move to beat the defender, were going to look at drills where we can practice going through the defender.
This is a great drill for teaching players to run through contact without inhibition. Setup two defenders with blocking pads, about 7 yards away from the offensive player, and with only a yard or two of distance between them. And it’s pretty simple from there.
Give the runner a ball, and on your command he’ll run through the defender, who are going to close the gauntlet simultaneously as the runner breaks through between them, sprinting upfield. Remind them to shield the ball (unlike Mr. Payton!), I usually recommend cradling it with both arms as you come through two defenders, limiting the balls exposure and the potential of a fumble.
Sideline Blaster Drill
You ever see a great running back break a run to the outside, sprinting down the line as defenders try to bump him out but he somehow manages to tip toe down the line forever? Well here’s a drill to help you develop the balance and strength to pull off that special skill.
Set up your two defenders with blocking pads again, but here we’ll stagger them, with about five yards distance between them, and the runner again about 5-7 yards away from the first defender. Instead of having the runner just go in a straight line, have them start slightly inside of the defenders, so that they can simulate the same momentum that carries your wait to the sideline on a pitch or a sweep.
Here they’ll want to keep the ball in their outside arm, and bump off both blockers while doing their best to stay in bounds. You don’t want your players hitting the defenders head-on – it should just be enough contact to knock them off-balance.
If you’re more concerned with stopping the run on defense, these great linebacker drills are a sure-fire way to improve your run D!