The bubble and jail routes are two of the most common routes in football. In many offenses these two routes serve as extensions of the run game and are used to force the defense to keep players outside of the box. By being able effectively run the bubble and jail routes an offense can keep defensive players covering receivers which opens up running plays. This concept is at the heart of the spread offense but in order for it to be effective these routes must be caught and blocked correctly. When done daily, this bubble and jail screen drill will teach your players how to run this properly.
(See Also) Spread Offense Playbook
Bubble and Jail Screen Drill
Both routes are very frustrating to coach because they look like they should be easy routes to throw and catch. In reality each of these routes takes a great deal of precision and practice. We will cover the techniques of running and throwing these routes in later articles but one of the most important parts of these routes is to get a million reps of running the route so the QBs and WRs are on the same page.
The Bubble/Jail Racehorse Drill is by far the most effective way to guarantee the maximum number of reps in a short amount of time. Once the players understand the drill it is not unrealistic to get over 50 reps in a 5 minute period. By using this drill you can guarantee that your players will have the muscle memory to run these routes even when they are tired and under pressure.
The drill is designed with two groups facing each other 20 yards apart. To start with each Quarterback will be throwing to his right. The receivers will block and run the route finishing 10 yards downfield. When the drill is complete the receiver who caught the ball will go and snap the ball to the other Quarterback for his next rep and then jog back to his line by going outside of the Quarterback so he does not get in the throwing lane. When this drill is moving at full speed it serves as a technique and conditioning drill.
There are a couple of major coaching points that the coach needs to stay on his players for. First everyone needs to understand the urgency of the drill which means all players are executing the drill at full speed and getting in place for the next rep right away. Beyond helping the drill move quickly this helps condition players in an up tempo offense. If one player is taking too long it will slow down the whole drill and force players to wait. As a coach this is a great time to emphasize to the team that one player slacking affects the whole team.
Another major coaching point is the blocking of the play. Early in the season it is best to have a coach lined up so that the play will be successful and tell the players they are either running bubble or jail. As the season goes on the defender can start to move and force the players to run either a bubble or a jail depending on the leverage of the player. With enough reps players will be able to automatically make this adjustment which will stress defenses and allow your players to respond to whatever the defense decides to do.
Something that coaches need to be thinking about are the logistics of the drill. To have the drill operate smoothly there are a few things that need to happen. First there must be 2 extra balls in front of each QB. In the event that the pass is incomplete the intended receiver will go and get the ball while the receiver who was blocking will go snap one of the extra balls. When the receiver does get the ball he will run it and place it down in front of the QB in case there is another miss.
Bubble and Jail Screen Drill Flipping Sides:
The other major logistic issue is the how to change directions of the routes. When the players hear a double whistle they will go directly across the field to the opposite side and start the drill within 15 seconds. This shouldn’t take long and is much more efficient than switching right and left and allows the QB to throw both directions, not only left and right but also facing both directions on the field.
The logistics of the drill do not seem like something that important to focus on but by ensuring a smooth transition it allows the players to eliminate wasted time and keeps the energy and tempo of the drill up.