A players ability for 1, 2, even 3 extra yards, can be absolutely critical to your team’s success – whether that’s getting just past the chains for a first down, or even avoiding a safety in your own endzone, those extra yards can chance the tide of the game.
And while there is a certain amount of technique to ball placement, most of fighting for extra yards basically equates to push forwards, and keep chopping those feet.
That’s why it’s important to run players through drills that will reinforce the idea of running hard, and doing everything they can to stay on their feet.
This is one of my all-time favourite drills, as it really gets the kids working hard, and it is actually kind of fun for them as well.
Grab about 10 players, and have them line up on one sideline. They’ll form five lines, with two to each spot. The first player in each line should have a ball.
The second player in line will put his arms around the waist of the player in front of him, and use this grip to hold themselves up.
Now the challenge is for the player with the ball to run about 20 yards as fast as they can, without tripping or flailing the football around, leaving it vulnerable to a fumble.
Once the players go down, have them switch and come back down the other way.
This is another drill that is more about effort and determination than technique or skill. Have 4-5 players line up about 5 yards away from the sideline, with each player slightly closer to the sideline than the last.
The ball carrier line should be facing the first of the five players, and on your whistle, will sprint out, initiating contact.
The defender should push him towards the sideline, and as he is pushed, he will then immediately sprint at the second defender and initiate contact with him as well, repeating so until he has pass the last defender.
The idea is to simulate the ball carrier breaking a couple tackles at the end of a long run, and diving into the endzone without being forced out of bounds.
- When a player is reaching for extra yards, teach them to cover the ball with both forearms and fall forward on top – putting their hand out on the ground to delay their fall is dangerous, both for ball security, and as an injury risk
- If players are finding the score drill too easy, try increasing the number of defenders, or moving the defenders closer to the sideline
If you’re looking to improve your running game, the back is just one very small part of it, and these great run-blocking drills are absolutely fantastic – make sure to check them out! Also, as always, if you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to give me a shout in the comment box!