Here are a list of running back drills we do during our individual position practice. These are drills we will do regularly with our RBs. All of these drills work multiple techniques at one time.
Running Back Ball Security Drills & Technique
The five points of contact drill ensures that the football is secured from all directions. When the ball is secured through these 5 points of contact it is nearly impossible for the defender to get the ball out. It’s important that running back ball security drills & technique are practice on a daily basis.
5 Points of Contact
First point is The Eagle Claw. The Eagle Claw is responsible for putting pressure through the tip of the football. With the Eagle Claw the Running Back will hold the tip of the ball in his hands and put two fingers on either side of the ball so that the tip isn’t covered. By not covering the tip the Running Back decreases the pressure on one spot and allows him to put more pressure over a larger surface area.
(Note: an alternate way of holding the football is with pointer finger covering the tip of the football, typically used with younger levels).
Second point is the Forearm pressure from the running back is responsible for keeping the ball tight to the Running Back’s body and it applies upward pressure once the ball is fully tucked away. Once the Running Back has grabbed the ball using the Eagle Claw the second step is for him to apply forearm pressure. He does this by turning his wrist in until the side of the ball is resting on his forearm.
Third point of pressure is the bicep which provides pressure opposite of the forearm. Once the Running Back has taken the ball next to his forearm he will lift the ball so the side that is opposite of the forearm is against his bicep. To do this the Running Back will have to lift the nose of the ball up. A safe rule is that the point of the ball should always be pointing up. Another good rule is that the Running Back should always have his wrist above his elbow. This ensures that the bicep has contact with the ball and it can’t be poked out from behind.
Fourth point is one of the most common ways fumbles occur is when a defender pokes the ball out from behind. By taking the ball across the runner’s chest he can guarantee that this will not happen. The ball carrier should use his bicep and forearm to pin the ball tight against his chest.
Fifth point and final point of pressure is for when the running back is entering into an area where he knows people will be trying to get the ball out. When it’s obvious there will be multiple players trying to force a fumble the running back should double his second arm over the ball. This helps prevent any defensive players from getting a clean shot on the ball. The best phrase to use is to tell the players to double when in trouble.
This drill is great because it kills two birds with one stone. It focuses on developing core strength and ball security!
There are a million different ball security drills that coaches can use to emphasize these 5 points of pressure. Each drill has advantages and disadvantages but there are a couple of danger zones where ball carrying mistakes are much more likely. The first danger zone is when the ball carrier is attempting to accelerate. The body naturally uses the arms to propel itself forward. While this is a very efficient way to accelerate, if a defender hits the ball carrier when his ball carrying arm is out the ball will more than likely come loose. It’s important to watch when the ball carrier accelerates to ensure the ball does not pop out to the side. The best place to do this is by watching the ball carrier from behind.
The other major danger zone is when the ball carrier is changing directions. When the runner plants in a foot to change directions many times the ball will swing out from his body. When this happens the likelihood of a fumble increases dramatically. It’s important that the ball carrier works to keep the ball tight across his body even when he is cutting and changing directions.
Ball Security is something that must be practiced and emphasized every day. Turnovers are the number one indicator if a team is going to win or lose a game. By spending the time in practice to ensure that your ball carriers take care of the ball you can eliminate some of these potential turnovers.
Running Back Speed and Agility Drills
When you are coaching youth football you have a limited amount of practice time during the week. Wit that said, it’s critical that you are working multiple techniques in one drill. This ladder drill is great because it works ball security and it also helps develop speed and agility. This is a drill we do regularly. It’s fast moving and the kids love it.
This ladder drill is a great way to develop quick feet and overall quickness and explosiveness. It also allows the running backs to practice lateral movements and it helps develop eye foot coordination. We will time our players once a week so we can track their development. The ladder is a great piece of practice equipment because you can do several different drills and movements. It’s cheap and it’s a must-have for all youth football coaches.
Tip: Get three ladders and create three player lines. This will get the kids more reps by lessening the time they have to wait. It also will force the kids to compete with each other.
Taking a Handoff
Something as simple as how to take a handoff is often overlooked by youth football coaches. Kids should be taught how to take a handoff on the first day of practice. How many times have you seen poor handoff exchanges that end with the football on the ground? This is something that needs to be address early on in the season. This is a drill we do during the first week of practice. We will work this drill in maybe once a week during the season just to make sure our exchanges stay clean.
This is a great drill that will practice multiple techniques in one drill. It will teach the RBs not to belly towards the QB for the handoff. It will work Quarterback- Running Back exchanges and it will help develop speed and agility. Multiple techniques are addressed in one drill, that’s what it’s all about.
Tip: When you have a bunch of kids, set this drill up in two locations this will allow the kids to get more reps. This video has all the kids on one line, which creates a long wait time. We only had one ladder at the time so we had to put them all in one line.
(See Also) Taking a Handoff in Football
(See Also) Running Back-Quarterback Handoff Exchange