Pre-Practice is a great time for the Offensive Line to work through some of their basic movement patterns that will increase their ability to complete their assignments. There are a variety of different ways you can approach pre-practice. Some days we use it as a mental period to work through the scheme and what we are looking to do, but the majority of the time we go through our steps to help players move and bend better.
The Offensive Line Pre-Practice Steps
Our pre-practice steps are designed to get our players warmed up by working on their flexibility and their stepping patterns. We go through four simple exercises that allow all of our linemen to be fully warmed up and ready for practice in a short amount of time.
The first thing we do is our Duck Walk. In our Duck Walk players will start with a great posture. This means that their hips should be low with their chests up. Their hands need to be in a striking position 6 inches from their belly and tight. We use the phrase that they want to be rolling a meatball as they go through the drill. In addition, they need to keep their elbows tight. We tell them that they want to rub the fat off their sides with their elbows.
As they go through the drill they want to be moving with six inch steps and striking with their whole foot. By striking with their whole foot they can get all of the power that they need from the ground. As they start moving through the drill it’s important that the coach has them focused on staying low and in a great posture while keeping their steps short.
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The next drill we do is the Icky Shuffle. In this drill the linemen will start with the same great posture only now they will be working on an angled step. The whole group will start by stepping to the right. They will start by taking two quick power steps with their right foot at a 45 degree angle. Once they have completed those steps they will take two steps with their left foot at a 45 degree angle. The key coaching points here are to keep their weight on the lead leg while keeping their hips and shoulders square to the line. This is a step that linemen in a Spread to Run Offense will use often which makes it a great step to work.
The next drill is the Backwards Icky Shuffle. They will be doing the same action as the Icky Shuffle but now they will be doing it backwards. The area where most of them struggle is keeping their hips square. Just like in pass protection, they want to keep their hips square to the line of scrimmage so they can react to the pass rushers move. This is the drill that can take some time to master but pays huge dividends in the long run.
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The fourth, and final, drill is the Partner Race. In this drill each player will grab a partner and line up facing each other. They will both extend their left hand and grab each other’s shoulder pads. They will then work to beat their partner by taking a sideways step with their lead foot. The key here is to make sure they keep good posture and stay low while they are moving through the drill.
These drills are not complicated, but they form the base of the movements for the offensive line. By mastering these movements in pre-practice, the players are able to gain more confidence in controlling their bodies and executing the steps that they need for each scheme.