Drills and Exercises for Linebackers
Though all of the players on the field at any given moment are important in their own way, few positions are as formidable as linebacker.
Linebackers are key to their team’s defense. They act as an extra line of protection on passing and running plays. They generally line up three to five yards behind the defensive linemen. They use this extra space to read the opposing team’s play before making a move.
Being the best linebacker that you can be does not come easy. Even if you are incredibly naturally talented, it takes hard work and dedication to reach your full potential. Linebackers will want to perform specific drills and exercises that target the specific functions and abilities that they need to have on the football field.
Below are a few of the best ways that you can improve at the linebacker position by training on the practice field and in the gym.
While physical fitness is obviously essential to football success, far too many players focus all of their attention on this and place none of it on mental toughness.
Because linebackers are often referred to as the “quarterbacks of the defense,” it is essential that they have a thorough understanding of the game of football (both defensively and offensively) and a positive mental state.
Middle line backers (MLB) in particular need to have a great understanding of their teams plays and excellent communication skills because they are generally the player who receives orders for their team’s defensive plays from the sidelines.
As basic as it might seem, one of the most important factors for a linebacker to work on is their stance.
Linebackers almost always start in a two-point stance. Feet should be shoulder width apart, knees bent, back straight, and head up. An active stance is best for a linebacker, as you need to be able to react to the opposing team’s playmaking. A quick half step towards the action is the first movement that a linebacker should make after the snap.
The best drill for linebackers looking to improve their stance is to simply practice their stance. Practice the explosive first half step over and over again until it is muscle memory. Train so that you can be in the perfect active two-point stance position even when the very end of the fourth quarter rolls around.
Shedding and Scraping
One of the biggest challenges for a linebacker is to get by a blocker and to the ball carrier.
Practicing shedding and scraping is an essential drill for all linebackers to do. Have the ball carrier rush up behind the blocker and break towards the outside. The linebacker’s job is to overcome the blocker, move towards the ball carrier, and drive him towards the sidelines.
Shedding is the skill of getting by a blocker and not letting him grab you or slow you down. After shedding a blocker, it is important to use your smarts when directing the ball carrier out of bounds. Whoever is carrying the ball is doing so for a reason. They are fast and agile.
Use positioning to direct the player out of bounds or into another teammate. This sort of positional play is, once again, best honed in practice drills.
Linebackers need to learn skills beyond just rushing the ball carrier. One of these skills is dropping back to cover receivers.
Coverage training in the form of the pass drop and hip rotation drill is vital for linebackers. You line up opposite a QB (or a coach). When the ball is hiked, backpedal five yards, and turn to sprint diagonally in the direction the QB signals. The QB should call out four sets of alternating directions (which the LB will match) before throwing the ball to them.
The pass drop and hip rotation drill is vital for your agility as well as for your hands. Linebackers don’t need the best hands on a team but the ability to make a pick always is appreciated.
Football Drills and Exercises for Linebackers
To become the best linebacker that you can be, it is essential that you practice the football drills and exercises discussed above. In addition to a positive attitude and training time in the gym, these drills will ensure that you shine on game day.
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