The fact of the matter is that if you control the line of scrimmage you control the game. The most important aspect of your defense is the defensive line. Your defensive linemen are responsible for gap control, pressure, and freeing up linebackers. There are a variety of different drills you can do to work your defensive line. Here are the best defensive line drills for youth football.
Dip and Rip Drill on Air
This is an excellent that can be done on the first day of practice. It is a drill that can be done without any equipment. We do a similar drill with my players every single practice. This drill is great because it teaches the players how get into a good stance, fire-out on ball movement, and how to dip & rip into their gap. In addition, you can practice all your blitz and defensive linemen slants during this drill. This is a drill that is non-contact and it works several different techniques at once.
Towel Drill- Dip and Rip
This is a drill that I got from USA Football. This is another non-live drill that doesn’t require a lot of time. It’s easy to set up and the kids can get several reps in a short amount of time. The Towel Drill will teach the defensive linemen how to dip their shoulder, rip up, and secure their gap. Dipping and ripping will minimize the blocking surface (offensive line can’t get hands on them) and allow them to exploded into their gap. Offensive linemen try to get their hands inside and if you dip your shoulder, they have no where to place their hands and they will lose balance. Dipping and ripping is especially effective if you have smaller or very athletic defensive linemen. Regardless, we teach our kids to dip and rip. Last, I recommend going on ball movement, not a voice command.
(See Also) 3 Drill Progression for Defensive Line
Game Footage of Dipping and Ripping
Watch how our nose guard does a nice job of dipping and ripping through blockers.
Squeezing and Wrong Arm
Squeezing is a technique that very few defensive linemen or even youth football coaches understand. Whenever the offensive linemen in front of you blocks down, that defensive linemen must squeeze down with him to close that gap. We tell our kids, if the offensive linemen in front of you blocks down leaving you unblocked, odds are you are going to get trapped/ kicked out. You must squeeze O-linemen’s down blocks and wrong arm any puller or blocker trying to gut you out (trap or kick-out). The reason why plays like trap, belly, and power work so well in youth football is because defensive linemen do not squeeze. Against offenses like the Wing T, Single Wing, and Double Wing if you do not squeeze those down blocks you will be in for a long day. This is a drill that you should put your defensive linemen through regularly. It will take the kids time to understand and implement what they are learning in the drill, but you just have to stick with it and the kids will catch on eventually.
(See Also) 10 Fundamentals of Defensive Line Play
Shock and Shed
The Shock and Shed Drill is more so for linebackers but it is a drill defensive linemen can benefit from. If you run a defense that requires your nose guard to be a ‘two gapper’ (responsible for both A-gaps) then the Shock and Shed technique is a great drill for them. The Shock and Shed drill is great because it teachers your defenders how to play with violent hands and shock the block, find the ball carrier, and make the tackle. The idea is to jolt the blocker with arms inside and arms fully extended so they can find the ball carrier and shed off and make a tackle. If you don’t want your defensive linemen penetrating or dipping and ripping, then the shock and shed is a great drill for your defensive linemen.
The purpose of this drill is to teach your defensive linemen how to disengage from the offensive linemen and rush the passer. This is a great drill for pass rushing. It’s difficult to pass in youth football, but when teams have to pass this is an excellent pass rush technique that your defensive line can use to get to the quarterback. Pass rushing is all about combating hands (offensive linemen hands) and hustling to the quarterback for a sack or a pressure. It’s also important that the defensive linemen maintain their gap and rushing lane responsibilities. Time and time again I see defensive linemen rush right past the QB and the quarterback breaks contains. Maintaining gap integrity is especially important against mobile QBs. Make sure your kids are not rushing themselves out of the play!
Other Defensive Line Drills for Youth Football:
(See Also) Chase the Chicken Drill
(See Also) D-Line Typewriter Drill
(See Also) Running the Hoop Drill for Defensive Linemen