Football Drills

football drills

What is a Drill in Football?

Football drills are used to help individual players and teams as a whole improve their game. Certain drills can be done by single players while others require multiple people to do. Drills can be further divided into those meant for all players on a team as well as those for specific positions.

List of Drills

Endurance and General (All Players)

  • Monkey Rolls
  • 50 40s
  • 40, 60, 80, 100
  • Bear Crawls
  • Burpees
  • Oklahoma Drill

These are drills that numerous positions can practice to improve endurance and general skills in the sport of football."Monkey rolls" require three players and start by having one roll into another before that player jumps over him and rolls into the next player.

Both the "50 40s" and "40, 60, 80, 100" drills involve running various distances on the field. Bear crawls make players crawl across the field on their hands and feet.

Burpees are an exercise that requires the player to get down on the floor with their hands on the ground and legs straight out. He then gets up with his knees bent, and jumps into the air before landing and starting over.

The Oklahoma drill involves two players in a small, outlined zone, attempting to push each other out of that space.

The following drills are just some examples of those used by football coaches and can be combined or changed slightly depending on the situation. They can also be used to improve skills at different positions, even if some are specified as position-specific.

Agility, Speed, and Footwork

  • Karaoke
  • Circle-Around-the-Cone
  • Fast Feet Drill
  • Weave
  • Zig-Zag
  • Four-Cone Box
  • Speed Ladder Change-of-Direction
  • Left-to-Right Jumps
  • Single-Leg Hops
  • Single-Leg Ball Squats
  • Single-Leg Band Jumps
  • Jump Rope

"Karaoke" is a pure footwork drill that has the player running sideways, stepping with the lead foot and crossing over and behind it in an alternating pattern up the field. This can be combined with a ladder for more advanced players.

The "circle-around-the cone" drill has the player take short, quick steps around a cone before exploding into a sprint. The "fast feet" drill adds more cones to the previous drill and and forces the player to slow down and backpedal halfway through the sprint before continuing again.

The "weave" and "zig-zag" drills both involve cones as well and have players weaving in and out of a straight line of cones in the former. In the former, the player moves about the cones, but backpedals before passing the next one and then runs forward in order to progress. In the latter, the player just goes from one cone to the next.

The cones used in the "four-cone box" drill are arranged in a square. The player starts at one, sprints to the one in front of him, shuffles sideways to the next one on his side without crossing his feet, backpedals to the next cone, and then turns and runs to the final cone.

The "speed ladder change-of-direction" drill has the player going through a ladder as quickly as possible both sideways and backwards before breaking into a sprint.

The "left-to-right jumps" and "single-leg hops" both use miniature hurdles arranged so that the player has to jump on one leg side to side before progressing forward, or simply in a straight line respectively.

"Single-leg ball squats" use a large exercise ball between the player and a wall, which is kept there as the player performs a squat on one leg.

The "single-leg band jump" is a one-leg squat performed by the player while holding onto an exercise band, before exploding into a jump.

Players can use a jump rope to jump not only up and down, but also side to side and front to back.

Offense

Quarterbacks

  • Anticipation Drill
  • Quick-Release Drill
  • Hitch-Hitch-Go-Or-Throw Drill
  • Circle Drill
  • Three-Cone Crossover Drill
  • Deep Ball Drill
  • Over the Middle Drill
  • Open Man Drill
  • Pocket Presence Drill
  • The Elway Drill
  • Hurdle Drills

In the "anticipation" drill, a receiver runs parallel to the line of scrimmage, behind something that hides his position from the quarterback. The quarterback must anticipate when the receiver will come out from behind the cover to throw a good pass.

The "quick-release" drill has a coach rapidly giving the quarterback one football after another as the quarterback catches the ball, grips the laces, and throws the ball as quickly as possible without looking at the coach.

The "hitch-hitch-go-or-throw" drill has the quarterback drop back and then step up as a defender runs behind him from the line of scrimmage. A coach in front of the quarterback will then run toward the quarterback or cover the receiver. As a response, the quarterback needs to either pass or run respectively.

In the "circle drill", two quarterbacks stand on opposite sides of a circle with a radius of five yards. The players toss a football back and forth while running and switch directions regularly.

The "three-cone crossover" drill uses three cones set up in a line. The player holds a medicine ball while straddling an end cone. He steps over the middle cone with his outside foot and then brings his other foot to the outside of the cone on the other side, going back and forth.

The "deep ball drill" is simply meant to get the quarterback practice throwing long passes to his receivers. It can be substituted with other routes as well.

Similarly, in the "over the middle drill," wide receivers, one after another, run parallel with the line of scrimmage while the quarterback hits them with a pass.

The "open man" drill makes things a little more difficult by asking the quarterback to identify the correct receiver quickly. In the drill, the receivers spread out in front of the quarterback and all but one put up two hands at the coach's signal. The quarterback must find that last receiver, who puts up one hand, and throw him the ball as quickly as possible.

The "pocket presence" drill is meant to help the quarterback be more aware of his surroundings in the pocket. In it, multiple defensive ends rush the quarterback one at a time, forcing the quarterback to evade them while he continues to look for his receivers.

In the "Elway" drill, four bags are set up to form an "X." The quarterback steps over them in a circular motion until he is signaled to hit a receiver with a pass.

Numerous miniature hurdle drills exist in which the quarterback must step over or around the hurdles while keeping his eyes up until he is signaled to pass the ball to a receiver.

Receivers

  • Man Press Drill
  • Fade Drill
  • Hide and Seek Drill
  • 90 Degree Cut Cone Drill
  • Sideline Catch Drill
  • Back to the Wall Drill
  • Goal Post Drill
  • Bad Ball Drill
  • Bag catching Drills

The "man press" drill is simply meant for the wide receiver to beat his man. In it, the defensive player does his best to cover the receiver while the receiver tries to get open.

The "fade" drill simulates an in-game situation in which the receiver runs a fade route toward the sideline. The quarterback tosses the ball over the receiver's shoulder who must find and catch the ball.

The "hide and seek" drill involves the receive running off the line of scrimmage, downfield, before making a quick turn around a dummy or bag. He must be ready for the pass as he is making the cut back to the ball.

The "90-degree cut cone" drill makes use of six cones, which mark where the receiver should cut at a 90-degree angle. It consists of a cut to the right, two cuts to the left, and a final cut to the right, with sprints in between each cone.

The "back to the wall" drill has the receiver's back facing the quarterback. The quarterback will announce that he is throwing the ball and the receiver will turn around as quickly as possible. He will extend his arms for the catch and making sure the ball is secure.

In the "goal post" drill, the receiver stands behind the field's goal post in order to receive a pass. This forces the receiver to concentrate on the ball and extend his arms while the pass is on its way.

The "bad ball" drill consists of the quarterback throwing poor passes to the receiver while running. These might include throws that are too high or behind the receiver.

Bag catching drills have receivers navigating through bags to improve footwork before catching a pass and running upfield.

Running Backs

  • Gauntlet
  • Score Drill
  • Hit the Hole Drill
  • Goal Line Running Drill
  • Read and Go Drill
  • Bags and Cans Drill
  • Blitz Pickup
  • Simple Punch Drill
  • Over and Back Drill
  • Hop and Switch Drill
  • Bag Drills
  • Ladder Drills
  • Concentration Drill
  • Sideline Catch Drill

The "gauntlet" sees a ball carrier running through rows of players trying to swat the ball away from him, often getting very physical in the process.

In the "score drill", the ball carrier attempts to run through four defenders, one at a time, lined up one after another. Each one tries to knock the ball carrier further and further to the outside.

The "hit the hole" drill forces the running back to run low to the ground as he passes underneath an obstacle before cutting to the left or right of a bag and getting the defender behind it.

In the "goal line running" drill, the running back must force his way between two defenders with blocking pads standing right next to each other.

Running backs in the "read and go" drill run toward a large bag in the center of the field. The coach behind the bag then pushes it in one direction, forcing the running back to quickly assess the situation and run the other way past it.

The "bags and cans" drill sets up three bags laid flat on the ground as well as three trash cans, all set up in a row. The running back must run over the bags and then transition into a zig-zag through the cans.

In the "blitz pickup", a running back can practice blocking by running up to a dummy and punching it with two hands. Afterwards, he backpedals and then runs forward to do the same thing to a second dummy next to the first one.

The "simple punch" drill has a stationary player tuning back and forth between two dummies, punching them in a way that simulates a block.

The "over and back" drill is one that has players moving sideways along a straight line. The players use short, choppy steps to cross over the line and back as they move.

The "hop and switch" drill has a player hop down the field from one foot to the next while staying low. The player must also switch the ball from one hand to the other on each hop.

A number of bag drills involving short bags that only come up to about the shin-level. Some of these include lining them up and stepping over each one, zig-zagging through them by shuffling, or zig-zagging by running forward and then backpedaling.

Similar to bags, ladders can be used in many different ways, helping players to improve their footwork.

The "concentration" drill adds to the bag drills by having a coach hit the ball carrier with a blocking pad before stepping over the bags. At the end of the row of bags, a second coach steps in one direction, forcing the ball carrier to run in the opposite direction.

The "sideline catch" drill focuses on running backs as receivers. Running backs need to be able to keep their feet inbounds while making a catch at the edge of the field. In the drill, the running back must hop over a trash can turned on its side, make the catch, and then get his feet established inbounds while still trying to turn upfield.

Linemen

  • Double X Dot Drill
  • Bag Drills
  • Four Corners
  • Shuttle Run
  • QB Protect Drill
  • Fire Out from the 30
  • Ball Punch Drill
  • Gap Blocking Drill
  • Cupping Drill for Pass Protection
  • Barrel Drill - Fit
  • Wax On Wax Off
  • Sled Drills

In the "double X dot" drill, five spots or cones are set up in an "X" pattern, with four of the spots making up a square, and the final spot placed in the center. The linemen jump from one spot to the next, always going through the middle spot.

Bag drills can also be used to improve the agility of linemen. Additional bag drills include stepping over the bags sideways in a way that does not have them cross their feet, turning their bodies to face the other direction every couple of bags, or jumping between the bags to get through.

The "four corners" drill is a variation on the four-cone box drill discussed earlier. Four cones are placed in a square. The lineman runs from the first cone to the one in front of him. He then performs a karaoke shuffle to the cone to his left before backpedaling to the cone behind him. Finally, he shuffles sideways to the first cone on his right.

The "shuttle run" uses three lines five yards apart from each other. The lineman starts at the middle line in a three-point stance and then runs to one of the outside lines and touches it with his hand. The lineman then runs to the other outside line and touches it with his hand. He finishes by running back past the middle line again.

The "QB protect" drill uses a dummy or bag to represent the quarterback. One offensive lineman stands at either side of the dummy at the line of scrimmage while trying fend off two defensive linemen for as long as they can.

The "fire out from 30" drill is one is used with a number of linemen at once. Each player lines up in a three-point stance next to each other. On the coach's signal, they each run ten yards and get back in the three-point stance. The first few to finish are done with the drill while the slower players have to continue. This is done until all players are finished.

The "ball punch" drill has the lineman pick up a weighted ball and push it forward to a partner with both hands in a punching motion, as if he was fending off a defensive lineman.

The "gap blocking" drill uses seven cones to simulate six holes, one of which the defensive player will run through. The offensive lineman tracks and touches the defensive player as quickly as possible.

The "cupping" drill has linemen out on the line of scrimmage before falling back in a cup shape around the quarterback. They continue to move their feet in a quick up and down motion and put their hands out as if to punch the defense for the length of the drill.

In this barrel drill, the lineman gets in the three point stance and shoots up to punch the barrel directly in front of him. The goal is to move quickly and slide the barrel forward rather than push it over.

In the "wax on wax off" drill, an offensive lineman and defensive lineman stand facing each other. The offensive player puts his hands up as if to block the defensive player, while the defender attempts to move them out of the way. The offensive player continues to fight with the defender, moving his hands back into place.

As a base drill, players make contact with the sled and move forward, pushing the sled back with extended arms.

Defense

Defensive Backs

  • Turn and Sprint
  • Stay with the Receiver
  • Stop the Run
  • Line Drill
  • "W" Drill
  • Short Box Drill
  • Backpedal Shuffle Break on Ball
  • DB Zone Break
  • Cushion Drill
  • 90-Degree Break Drill

The "turn and sprint" drill uses three cones five yards apart from each other. The participant starts out in a back pedal from the first cone. When he gets to the second cone, he turns and runs to the third cone.

In the "stay with the receiver" drill, a fourth cone is added to the turn and sprint drill at about a 45-degree angle from the third cone. The player performs the same actions as in the "turn and sprint" drill, but cuts to the fourth cone afterward. This can be done with or without a receiver that changes up the route or pacing.

The "stop the run" drill places a fifth cone farther down the field on that same 45-degree angle from the third cone. After the run to the fourth cone, the player must shift to another gear and sprint to the fifth cone.

The "line drill" also starts in with a backpedal. On the coach's signal, the player turns the lower half of as if he is about to spin around and start sprinting, only to return to backpedaling. He does this a few times before actually turning all the way around and breaking into a run.

In the "W" drill, the player makes his way through two rows of three cones, each of which are five yards apart from each other and make a rectangle. The player starts at the cone all the way to the right of the first row and backpedals to the cone directly behind him in the second row. From there, he sprints to the middle cone in the front row. He then backpedals straight back to the second row-middle cone and runs forward once more to the first row cone on the left.

The "short box" drill requires a cones set up in a three-yard-by-three-yard square. The player starts at the front-right cone and backpedals to the back-right cone. He then sprints to the front-left cone before backpedaling to the back-left cone. He finishes by sprinting through the front-right cone.

The "backpedal shuffle break on ball" has the defensive back line up facing the coach from five yards out. The player starts off in a backpedal before he shuffles to his left. The coach then throws the ball past the player, at which point he must turn out of his shuffle and sprint at a 45-degree angle to catch it.

The "DB zone break" starts with the defensive back facing the quarterback from about 15 yards away in the middle of the field. Two stationary receivers, stand between the quarterback and defensive back off to the side to form a diamond. The defensive back starts by backpedaling. The quarterback then turns one way, signaling to the defensive back that he is about to throw the ball. On this turn, the defensive back runs to cut off the receiver and catch the ball for an interception.

The "cushion" drill begins with the defensive back facing a receiver with about ten yards between the two. The receiver takes off running and the defensive back starts to backpedal, keeping the receiver in front. When the receiver gets, within about three yards, the defensive back turns and runs forward in order to continue covering the receiver.

The "90-degree break" drill consists of a series of backpedals and shuffles. The player starts by backpedaling a short distance before shuffling to his left at a 90-degree angle. He then backpedals again, shuffles to his right, backpedals, and shuffles to his left. Finally, the player backpedals one last time, shuffles to his left again, and then sprints forward back toward the start of the drill.

Linebackers

  • Backpedal, Shuffle, and Plant Drill
  • Angle Run Drill
  • Hitting on the Rise Drill
  • Weave and Tackle Drill
  • Track and Tackle Drill
  • Shed and Tackle Drill
  • Open Field Tackling

The "backpedal, shuffle, and plant drill is a bag drill in which shin-height bags are placed in a row, one after another. The linebacker zig-zags through the bags by backpedaling, shuffling to the side, and then running forward.

In the "angle run" drill, the linebacker runs backward at a 45-degree angle using crossover steps to continually face forward toward the coach. When he reaches the boundary on one side, he runs in the other direction until he reaches the boundary on that side. He continues to run back and forth until the coach tells him to finish, at which point the player turns all the way around and runs in the opposite direction of the coach.

The "hitting on the rise" drill uses a tackling dummy that the player lines up in front of on one knee with his hands at his sides. Keeping the head and chest up, the player shoots up and forward to lift the dummy off the ground.

In the "weave and tackle" drill, the linebacker makes his way through two bags while staying low to the ground. The drill is finished by tackling a dummy.

The "track and tackle" drill has the linebacker start by facing a moving tackling dummy. He keeps his body square as he moves with it and eventually tackles the dummy.

In the "shed and tackle" drill, a coach throws a blocking shield at the linebacker on his way to tackle the dummy. He must shed the pad and continue to make the tackle.

The "open field tackling" drill has the linebacker set up 10 yards in front of the running back, who approaches the linebacker with the ball. When the running back gets close, he makes a move to the left or right, and the linebacker must tackle him before he goes any further.

Linemen

  • Fighting with your Hands
  • Recovery
  • One-on-One Pass Rush Drill
  • Block Recognition Drill
  • Sack Drill
  • Shake and Bake Drill

In the "fighting with your hands" drill, two stationary players stand right in front of each other. The defensive lineman must fend off repeated attempts by the other player to hit the lineman in the chest.

The "recovery" drill has another player grab the breastplate of the defensive lineman, whose helmet is also askew. The defensive lineman must then make his way around the other player despite being at a disadvantage.

The "one-on-one pass rush" drill makes use of five offensive and five defensive linemen. The coach picks only one defensive lineman to actually rush the quarterback, though the offensive line does not know who it is. Each defensive lineman fakes like he is going to rush, but only one does.

In the "block recognition" drill, one defensive lineman takes on three defensive linemen. The offensive linemen use different blocks that the defensive player must beat.

The "sack" drill has linemen make their way through three bags and three cones before tackling a dummy.

The "shake and bake" drill consists of the linemen zig-zagging through dummies while stopping at each one to shake them.