This Linebacker T Drill works on conditioning and several skills that LBs must use at any given point in the game. Instead of pressing forward, and letting the blocker trip you up down low, simply dip your shoulder, and push off the block with your outside hand.
The key is to not over extend yourself, and keep your shoulders square to the line of scrimmage – this will make it infinitely easier to maintain your speed, and an eye on the ballcarrier. After you’ve gone over the technique a couple times, lay out two bags about 5 and 10 yards away to the side of your line of players.
Then have your linebackers slide laterally until they come up to the bag, and then have them execute a quick back step or two to clear the bag, and continue along laterally to the next bag. Again, the focus is keeping your shoulders square to the line of scrimmage – this will not only decrease the likelihood of a tackle being broken, but also makes it easier to contain any cutback lanes should the runner head to the opposite sideline.
The coach will point to either the left or the right, and the runner will break in that direction. Stay level – you shouldn’t raise or lower your body as you give up the step, stay in that athletic stance! If you enjoyed this article, or have any questions pertaining to coaching or your players, make sure to comment below! Get a killer defense like Michigan State's >>> Learn Quarters Coverage and Get Better For Next Year! The following linebacker drill was stolen after visiting Vince Okruch’s Western Illinois 3-3 nickel practices as well as from Jeff Walker’s exhaustive work, “Coaching the 40 Nickel Defense”, which every coach absolutely needs to own. The linebacker drill represents the run fits for your linebacker group, broken into 3 distinct reactions; In, At, and Out (represented here in green, yellow, red).
The AT area will be an immediate responsibility of the bubble (outside) linebacker sandwiched between the guard and inside the tight end. Whether it is ingrained at the lower levels or what, use this momentum to build their skill-set rather than trying to “break them” of bad habits.
To better explain this drill, it’s important to first understand what the benefits of it will be.
At the most basic level, this drill should be able to teach your linebackers how to read an offensive key post-snap. We set this drill up just with a centered location (ball), a line of scrimmage, an offensive read player 5 yards deep from the ball spot, and linebackers in the called front alignment. For this linebacker drill, once the linebackers acknowledge the key they are given, they just need to move correctly and blow through their fit.
BACK: On command, step forward between the ball spot and the guard, and ? speed run to the LOS. TO LB: Identifying the back is heading to the IN (the back is not laterally stepping or turning his hips outside), the linebacker should mimic the back’s footwork and step forward in a free run to the A gap. AWAY LB: If the away linebacker does not see the back’s shoulders heading toward him, he can rule out being threatened immediately.
TO LB: Identifying the back has gained outside momentum with the lateral step and the immediate IN area is not threatened, the linebacker should vertically press his primary play side gap for 2 steps.
AWAY LB: As the back gains lateral distance from the ball spot, the linebacker would shuffle and press (staying parallel to the LOS) for 3 steps and on the fourth step engage a free run to stack the A gap inside-out, closing any potential cutback of the back.
BACK: On command, take an exaggerated step (open the hips to the sideline) outside and ? speed run to the sideline.
TO LB: With the back turning his body away from the IN and AT areas, where the linebacker can see the helmet earholes of the back, he should vertically press his primary gap for 2 steps, then ‘bounce’ to outside the tackle. AWAY LB: With the back presenting his back to this linebacker’s play side, the linebacker should shuffle 3 steps and look to stack the away side A gap, and then run his feet.
For linebackers inside the tackle box, their feet should be within their body, slightly wider than shoulder-width and never leave this position until they are in a free run.
The quick hitting run game has to end with these two defenders, so they cannot be out of position. To get the most return out of this drill, you should be reinforcing HOW your linebackers should be moving towards their destination. As the linebacker initiates movement to his left, he should be driving off his right foot forcing his lead (left) foot to catch the ground at 6-8 inches from where it started.
OUT Action TO: Any outside action to, this defender should be free running up the field, closing the perimeter running lane for the back, keeping his shoulders square to the LOS. The Back Action AWAY: linebacker should shuffle inside laterally for 3 steps and then gain depth from the LOS.


When your players master the basics of back flow and linebacker movement, begin adding other read players like guards, wings, and other backs.
I hope this has helped spark an interest for streamlining what you reinforce to your defenders and that fundamentals improved for you next season.
You can find more of Joe Daniel’s work at Football-Defense, which is an awesome resource. I believe that linebacker drills for footwork always need to emphasize the stance, and also the proper first step.
What’s really nice about this bag drill is how easily it can be incorporated into most linebacker drills against the run. Here is some linebacker drills video of a team doing some basic run fits with their linebackers without pads. Executing these half line linebacker drills in practice without pads, especially at a good tempo, is an effective way to break down a specific area of a linebacker’s fundamentals without being distracted by another element (aka the tackle).
Linebacker drills that focus on the shuffle include setting up bags about 2-3 feet apart and having the linebacker work over them from side to side. We run the 4-3 also; the linebacker drills will be great for them during our individual drills. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. 3-3 Stack Linebacker Drills features a series of game-tested drills designed to develop the key skills and techniques involved in sound linebacker play in the 3-3 stack front.
100% Satisfaction Guarantee: At Mansion Athletics, we want to be sure that the item you choose is the right one for you. And that doesn’t mean they have to be superstars, flying over the offensive line for a sack every play, but they do need to be ready to contain and attack the ballcarrier every single down. As you do so, use the momentum of the blocker to take a small step or two backwards, and then continue along in a lateral run. Lined up in a straight line, with two blockers and a ballcarrier in front of him, and a coach behind. The blockers should both be executing cut blocks, and after the linebacker sheds them, he should explode vertically toward the running back, wrapping up and pushing him back a good 5 yards.
I find this drill to be the single most important technique reinforcement tool to develop consistent linebackers. This typically is the responsibility of the middle or stacked (inside) linebacker of the defense. It is best when it is repped at a high-tempo, with verbal cues provided, but no stopping of the drill. Also, DO NOT use a ball in this drill, it will only slow you down and isn’t what you are reinforcing with this drill.
The old school way of doing this was lining your guys in front of other players hoping one of them can provide a decent offensive lineman block (down, pull, base, scoop, etc).
The back will be given one of the three responses and on command (cadence) will move towards the appropriate (In, At, or Out) area. It isn’t enough to get the initial footwork correct, there has to be follow-through on the execution.
This drill should be run at a very high tempo and because it’s just being used for run fits, you can have lines of other defenders ready to take their turn at each linebacker spot once a play is run. He will vertically press his gap with 2 shuffles, then race to stack the opposite A gap while keeping his shoulders parallel to the LOS. The next step should crossover this first step towards the area outside the tackle and ? speed run to the LOS. Once he sees the crossover step of the back (the back’s shoulders are no longer parallel with the LOS) he should free run to just inside the tackle position. This linebacker has closed any cutback and is in position to go “over the top” of the front on a secondary pursuit angle if the back breaks the line of scrimmage (though it is not necessary to rep that in this drill).
With the In-At-Out drill, these inside players should be moving with a shuffle technique; pushing off the away foot and catching with the destination foot. This position looks exactly like any 2-point defender would be in before he began any other essential drill (block destruction, 2 point extension, form tackling, etc) with his hips coiled and relaxed upper body, capable of moving in any direction.
The key is for this player to not get in a habit of turning his shoulders away from the LOS immediately but insure the cutback is closed before engaging in secondary pursuit. I call it the wave because the linebacker coach is moving his hands in all kinds of directions.


He will point to the linebacker’s left, and the linebackers will come down hill to the left, shuffling as they go.
Shuffling, a technique advocated by linebacker guru and current Penn State Defensive Coordinator Ron Vanderlinden, leaves the feet in a good position to take on a block.
Due to the large size of video files, it is not uncommon for DVD download to take upto an hour. Within 30 days of delivery of your order, you may return any merchandise purchased from Mansion Athletics in its original condition with your email order confirmation or packing slip. This linebacker drill can be conducted at varying levels of difficulty and lends itself to training many players in rapid succession.
It is important that your second level defenders work with the front to close all the available gaps at the snap of ball.
Repeating this drill every day will allow your players to understand just how many steps (and the time window) it takes to respond to the runs you face.
When the back provides a read, the linebackers should shuffle and press the area being attacked and race through the LOS.
Once linebacker has committed to his gap, he should be running through the gap (tackling the ‘ball carrier’ isn’t necessary for this drill). This rote method will produce a comfort level of familiarity with your players, giving them more confidence in their role on the field and reduce hesitancy and “free lancing”.
Depending on how you teach reads, you can easily have the linebacker follow through the guards to the runningback in this linebacker drill. I also like how the coach starts by giving the players the direction and play the offense will use, and finishes up by mixing it up on them. Teaching the linebacker to react to movement in someway is so critical for training what the eye sees and how the body and footwork of the linebacker respond.
Emphasizing this shuffle is pivotal for the success of the linebacker in maintaining his base throughout the play, from pursuing the ball carrier, taking on a block, and making the tackle. If you want to connect with me, you can follow me at my twitter handle, CoachCP or on Google+. We aren’t an exclusive back-flow read team, as linemen keys are essential, but for the sake of indoctrination we develop the linebackers in stages. At the snap, they should be moving forward, towards the ball, and laterally with their feet underneath them.
If you’re adding more and more offensive players, you might be better served to wait for “team” periods.
This will allow you to watch the footwork on the linebackers and incorporate the bag behind them to prevent false steps backwards. I target the main area of concern in the string of events (was it a bad stance that caused the problem rather than a bad step), because a series of problems will usually start with that first problem.
This will also keep his feet high, which is always good practice in order to prevent falling over trash.
The ball carrier lightly jogs, so the linebacker shuffles, keeping in on the back hip of the ball carrier so he doesn’t over pursue. Indy and Group linebacker drills should be 3-5 step, high repetition exercises to reinforce fundamental technique to get your players to not only do it right, but do it better than anyone else in your conference.
Regardless of how you choose to teach it, by keeping the bag small behind the linebacker in this linebacker drill, your inside linebackers can take their drops. Finally for these types of linebacker drills, the coach will point behind him and they will sprint forward to finish the play. Linebacker coaches should do this with as many drills as possible to stop the dreaded pushoff step that linebackers don’t even realize they do. For the left and right motions, you can have the linebackers in this drill open their hips in that direction for a pass drop instead of coming down hill for the run. The linebacker should keep his shoulders square (like he must do when shuffling), but turn his hips to run to maintain that his relationship on the hip pocket of the ball carrier. Taking video can help too if you can’t use a bag, but I prefer the bag because sometimes the memory of hitting the bag stops them from doing it more than a mental note. The linebacker should then sprint (simulating a toss sweep), regain his shuffle right before the tackle (avoiding crossing over his feet or else he will lose control and likely be run over) and then he will make the perfect tackle.



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