There are two key elements to successful defensive football. The first one is tackling which is drilled daily, in one form or another, by almost all teams. The second element is pursuit. A defense must be great at flowing to the ball and getting multiple players to the ball carrier. When there are multiple defenders attacking the defense has an increased chance of not only making the tackle but also creating a turnover.
The number one was to drill and emphasis pursuing the ball to your defense is to run the pursuit drill daily. In this drill the defense will learn the proper angles they need to take to get to the ball carrier. In addition, by doing this drill daily the team will be completely clear of the importance of pursuing the ball.
The concept of the pursuit drill is very simple. The defense will set up in their base alignment. On the snap the ball the defense will touch their chest to the ground to simulate the play and the coach will signal the direction that the ball carrier went. From there each defender will take the correct angle to get to their cone.
The most important part of the pursuit drill is teaching the players the correct line to chase the ball carrier down. The best way to do this is by setting 5 cones on the sideline space every five yards and assigning players the cone that they need to get to.
Utilizing the Pursuit Drill in Youth Football
Pursuit Drill 4-3 Defense
(See Also) The 4-3 Defense for Youth Football
Pursuit Drill for 3-4 ( DL #’s are the techniques the DT are playing)
(See Also) The Slanting 3-4 Defense for Youth Football
Pursuit Drill 3-3 Stack Defense
(See Also) 3-3 Stack Defense for Youth Football
Coaching Points for Utilizing the Pursuit Drill in Youth Football
A key coaching point is to ensure that players are fulfilling their responsibilities before pursuing the ball. It is not included on the diagrams but it’s critical that the players who are responsible for cutback, reverse, and contain fulfill their responsibilities. The player who is responsible for this varies from team to team but it’s critical to assign a player this job and ensure they are completing their assignment.
The first few times that a defense does the drill they will be trying to remember the exact cone that they run to but slowly the angle they take will become natural. This is the goal of Pursuit Drill. When a play breaks defenders will naturally take off at the angle they have practiced at during Pursuit Drill. While they will need to correct this based on how the play is happening, the initial departure angle will put them in a position to make the play.
(See Also) Tackling in Youth Football