The Sideline Drill is a great drill that combines change of direction with tackling to help players maximize their time. Players tend to love the drill because it adds some competition and is very easy to have fun with.
Practice Tracking and Tackling the Ball Carrier with the Sideline Drill
Drill Set up
The basics of the drill are that two players lie on the ground head to head with their feet going in opposite directions. The players should be lined up about 7-10 yards from the sideline and their should be a cone 5 yards behind each player. The coach will start the drill by tossing the ball to either player. Whoever gets the ball is the ball carrier and the other player is the defender.
When the Coach throws the player the ball both players will run around the cone on their side of the field. The player who got the ball is the ball carrier and has the option to beat the defender to the sideline or cut the ball back at any time. The player who did not get the ball is the defender and will work to track the ball carrier and make the tackle. This can be a fit up tackle or a hip tap depending on the level of physicality you want the players to have that day.
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There are a couple of key points for the defender when doing this drill. The first thing they have to do is get around their cone and get their eyes on the ball carrier. It’s critical that as the come around the cone they start to survey the scenario and determine the leverage they must work with to make the play.
Normally the defender will make it to the cone first because he does not catch the ball. The ball will cause the ball carrier to struggle standing up and will slow him down enough that the defender will be in front. This means that the defender, if he does not adjust, will be outside of the ball carrier and open up the lane for the cut back. To avoid this we work with our defenders on coming forward to gain leverage and start tracking the inside hip. When players get cut back on several times they learn the lesson that they have to adjust to the ball carrier to get depth and they can’t just run out of control. This shows up on the field as defenders learn they need to be patient in getting their leverage and approaching the tackle.
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By changing up who gets the ball this tackling drill is easy to make fun. As a coach it’s important to show players that they can have fun while still working on the essentials of the drill and working their fundamentals. The effect is that you get players bought into a drill that is teaching and working the fundamentals that they need to master.