Your Offensive Line Pulling Too Slow?
In youth football, if you have the most size and talent in the league, you probably don’t need to bother pulling linemen. With proper technique your team should be able to handle all their blocks 1 on 1. On the other hand if you don’t have the most size and talent, most likely you will have to rely on double team blocks and overwhelming the opposition at the point of attack with more numbers. The only effective way to really do that consistently is to pull linemen.
Some of you may say, hey we cant pull at this age. That’s simply not true, pulling can be taught to players as young as 5 years old, I’ve seen may youth team even age 5-7 run trap and reverse plays with pullers. I coached an age 6-8 team in 2002 and we pulled and pulled well.
One of the problems with pullers in the youth game is they aren’t getting to the point of attack quick enough. There are several reasons why they don’t and a few simple solutions.
#1) Pulling too deep.
Often a player won’t make it to the point of attack if he is pulling too deep. When a player pulls deep, he has a lot more ground to cover. If he is pulling too deep it is often because that is the way he has been taught or because your double team blocks are not getting the defender to the second level. If the double team is getting the defender to the second level the puller doesn’t go lateral at all, he is running downhill on his second step.
#2) Puller is hesitating.
Often a puller will stop in his tracks after he takes his drop step and opens up his hips. He has to explode off his drop step and run full speed to his point of attack. A simple way to do this is rep the drop step first and then the first 2 steps of the pull.
After you feel there is no hesitation you can use a simple chaser drill. Put a chaser (tackler) 1 step behind and away from the side the puller is pulling. Mark a “safe zone” with pylons at the point of attack. Give a cadence and have the puller move to the point of attack at full speed using the proper technique and footwork. Hold the chaser up just for a moment, then release him to tackle the puller from behind. Release the chaser at a point where the puller has to run at maximum potential to get to the safe zone. Mark with cones the holes etc to make sure there is not corner cutting.
This will teach your linemen to explode off their drop step and run full speed. After doing this drill a few times, I’ve found many youth football linemen have no idea that they could or should run this fast when they pull.
#3) Wrong players pulling
While not all of our linemen will pull, those that do have to have reasonable feet. While none of our linemen are going to be great athletes don’t hesitate to put a backup fullback or blocking back in a pulling position. You can help develop some quickness with things like the tennis ball drill listed here on the blog and in the book.
Pulling is like any other football technique and skill, it has to be taught, repped and developed. Rest assured it is time very well spent and will work if you make it a priority in youth football.
All the drills, offense and defense can be found in the book “Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan”.
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