One area where defenders tend to struggle is transitioning from a full sprint to a position to make a tackle. Many tacklers will continue going as fast as they can as they approach a ball carrier, as a result they are susceptible to any moves the ball carrier tries. In the Burst and Buzz drill players are taught how to accelerate to their maximum chase speed and then come to balance as they approach the ball carrier.
Burst and Buzz Tackling Drill
One of the trademarks of any great defense is to have all eleven defenders flying to the ball. This means that as soon as the ball has declared a side, all eleven players need to take off and get to the ball using a path that will keep them in a position to make a play. By having all 11 defenders close to the ball the defense is in a position to adjust to any instance where the ball pops out or a tackle is missed.
The only problem with defenders flying to the ball is that if they are not under control they will never make the play. Instead, as they approach the ball carrier they must start to come to balance so they can adjust to any change of direction that the ball carrier attempts. The best drill to teach this process of coming to balance is the Burst and Buzz Drill.
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The Burst and Buzz Drill is designed to simulate an explosive movement towards a ball carrier followed by the defender coming to balance. There are a variety of ways to do this drill but we will start with the version that is best to work the teaching progression.
In the basic Burst and Buzz Drill players will be aligned on the sideline on a line. On each line at the first hash there will be a bag held by a team mate. On the coaches first whistle the defenders will take off on a sprint. It is critical that players work to get up to full speed so they learn how to decelerate. When they begin to approach the bag they must work to decelerate by dropping their hips and coming to balance. When they have fully stopped they need to buzz their feet. This helps to teach them to stay under control and work their hips down. On the coaches second whistle they will execute the tackle on the bag.
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To build the drill and get players to develop the drill in a more dynamic environment the coach can add multiple times where the defender must come to balance. This is a simple change to the drill and lets players double or triple the number of times they go from a full sprint to a balanced position. To do this players should line up on the sideline on one of the five yard line marks. On the coaches whistle they will sprint across the field. On the second whistle they will come to balance and chop their feet. The next whistle the coach blows will tell them to accelerate out. The coach can blow the whistle and have players come to balance as many times as he thinks is necessary.
The Burst and Buzz Drill is a great way for players to work the transition of closing on the ball to adjusting to the ball carrier’s moves. Too many times defenders work hard to get in a position to make a play on the ball but come in out of control. By teaching players how to come to balance these players now have a chance to make a play on the ball and be rewarded for pursuing the ball.