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HAMMER OR NAIL? “DEVELOPING AGGRESSION AND PHYSICALITY IN THE YOUTH FOOTBALL PLAYER” Dave Potter Head Football Coach DURHAM WAR EAGLES.

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Presentation on theme: "HAMMER OR NAIL? “DEVELOPING AGGRESSION AND PHYSICALITY IN THE YOUTH FOOTBALL PLAYER” Dave Potter Head Football Coach DURHAM WAR EAGLES."— Presentation transcript:

1 HAMMER OR NAIL? “DEVELOPING AGGRESSION AND PHYSICALITY IN THE YOUTH FOOTBALL PLAYER” Dave Potter Head Football Coach DURHAM WAR EAGLES

2 DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA COACHING YOUTH FOOTBALL 13 YEARS WITH THE DURHAM EAGLES ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION

3 5 YEARS COACHING AT THE MITEY-MITE DIVISION (AGES 7 – 9)

4 5 YEARS COACHING AT THE MITEY-MITE DIVISION (AGES 7 – 9) 5 YEARS COACHING AT THE JUNIOR PEEWEE DIVISION (AGES 8 – 11)

5 5 YEARS COACHING AT THE MITEY-MITE DIVISION (AGES 7 – 9) 5 YEARS COACHING AT THE JUNIOR PEEWEE DIVISION (AGES 8 – 11) 2 YEARS COACHING AT THE PEEWEE DIVISION (AGES )

6 DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA COACHING MIDDLE SCHOOL FOOTBALL 3 YEARS IN THE DURHAM ATHLETIC CONFERENCE (AGES )

7 EIGHT CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008

8 EIGHT CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 SEVEN UNDEFEATED SEASONS 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008

9 EIGHT CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 SEVEN UNDEFEATED SEASONS 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, RECORD IN THE C.F.F. DATING BACK TO 2000

10 28 - CONSECUTIVE CONFERENCE GAME WINNING STREAK 2005 – 2008

11 28 - CONSECUTIVE CONFERENCE GAME WINNING STREAK 2005 – 2008 “TOP 16” IN THE NATION 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008

12 “DEVELOPING AGGRESSION AND PHYSICALITY IN THE YOUTH FOOTBALL PLAYER”

13 DISCLAIMER

14 OUR APPROACH TO PHYSICALITY What is our philosophy?

15 TWO PARTS Our Philosophy to Physicality Drills (and the way we teach them)

16 DRILLS PowerPoint You Tube (CoachDMP) DVD Demo

17 NUMBER ONE QUESTION “AS COACHES, HOW DO WE DEVELOP AGGRESSION, INTENSITY, PHYSICALITY AND SELF-CONFIDENCE IN THE YOUTH FOOTBALL PLAYER?”

18 “How Can We Be as Physical and Aggressive as You?” Physicality and aggression are our primary emphasis. If physicality and aggression are 3 rd or 4 th on your priority list, it’s doubtful that you can be as physical and aggressive as a team that emphasizes it as the Number One Priority.

19 “How Can We Be as Physical and Aggressive as You?” Physicality and aggression is our primary emphasis. If physicality and aggression are 3 rd or 4 th on your priority list, it’s doubtful that you can be as physical and aggressive as a team that emphasizes it as the Number One Priority.

20 “How Can We Be as Physical and Aggressive as You?” Physicality and aggression is our primary emphasis. If physicality and aggression are 3 rd or 4 th on your priority list, it’s doubtful that you can be as physical and aggressive as a team that emphasizes it as the Number One Priority.

21 JJ Lawson—”the hardest hitting youth team in the country.” Matt Finlon—”the hardest hitting team in the nation.” John —”the hardest hitting youth team in America.” “The Durham Eagles are…”

22 JJ Lawson—”the hardest hitting youth team in the country.” Matt Finlon—”the hardest hitting team in the nation.” John Staiger—”the hardest hitting youth team in America.” “The Durham Eagles are…”

23 JJ Lawson—”the hardest hitting youth team in the country.” Matt Finlon—”the hardest hitting team in the nation.” John Staiger—”the hardest hitting youth team in America.” “The Durham Eagles are…”

24 Where Do We Start?

25 We start with "expectation.” Any vision, plan or goal begins with expectation. Where Do We Start?

26 We start with "expectation.” We give new parents a copy of our highlight DVD from last year, as well as our "Program DVD" so they can SEE for themselves how physical we are. We add actual quotes from other coaches around the country helps legitimize this to parents and raises the expectation level of the player. We also "warn" them that we "play very physical football." We give out new t-shirts at the start of each season. Phrases like, "WELCOME TO THE PAIN FACTORY" and "WAR EAGLES HIT CLUB" promote the mindset. Our coaches also wear these shirts. In addition, we also let them know about our success. Our literature, website and t-shirts read: CFF CHAMPIONS The record of consistent success lets parents and players know we have high standards. We also let parents know that playing for us will be the biggest physical and mental challenge their kids will have experienced up to this point in their lives. We call conditioning week "Parris Island." We are laying the groundwork of expectation. Where Do We Start?

27 What Makes Us Aggressive? It is our mindset. It is our approach. It is our primary emphasis.

28 What Makes Us Aggressive? It is our mindset. It is our approach. It is our primary emphasis.

29 What Makes Us Aggressive? It is our mindset. It is our approach. It is our primary emphasis.

30 What Makes Us Aggressive? It is our mindset. It is our approach. It is our primary emphasis.

31 We also tell them that "we aren't for everyone." We tell the kids, we are the hardest hitting team in the country and if you can't take it, you'd better go home now. We also tell them that their Number One responsibility to this team is to be a great hitter. "I don't care how big, small, fast, or slow you are. If you are going to play for us, you will be the supreme hitter, or you will go home." All this is to condition our players (and parents) for the expectation level of hitting. We do not teach blocking and tackling. We teach “hitting.”

32 Make the Atmosphere Aggressive The coach sets the tone and atmosphere for their players. You should want to coach in a physical and aggressive atmosphere. DO NOT BE PASSIVE!

33 We Coach Through Our Personality We all coach through our own personality. If we're laid back, our coaching will generally be that way, as well. Since I'm a rather intense fellow it's far easier for me to convey that personality to my team. If you find yourself unable to "turn up the wick," you may need to make sure you have a good AC on hand who can get those kids to jump. Being forceful with your players is not about "being mean." It's about motivating them properly to play a physical and intense sport.

34 create intense practices and atmosphere

35 I like having loud, intense and aggressive coaches around me. I like them to whoop and "bark it up" at practice. Creating the right practice atmosphere is important. I want to create a "feeding frenzy.“ We do that by using drills that include several players (3 on 3, or 4 on 4). While we do use "1 on 1" drills, those drills don't create that kind of "frenzy.“ Kids may “jump back” on one-on-one drills. In 4-on-4 drills, they all want to jump in. We allow our kids to jump in. We don’t take turns. Create an “Alpha-Pack” mentality.

36 Often, we let players call each other out (and encourage them to do so). "You want a piece of him?!" "Yes Sir, I'm gonna jack him up!" We're in our player's faces trying to push their buttons.

37 Drills. It's important to find drills that you are good at teaching, and the boys can get a lot from.

38 All drills are physical drills. Regardless of whether we are doing our "whose ball," running our gauntlet, teaching pulling, practicing the Center/QB exchange, we hit. By hitting in virtually every drill we do, tackling drills are far less intimidating to us.

39 We want our players to "run through" the player. When we use a tackling dummy to show the "aiming points" and how and where to wrap, we have another tackling dummy that is 10-yards beyond the initial dummy that is to be hit. We have each player drive the initial dummy back to where the other dummy is, so that players get used to "running through" the player.

40 We have no thud or half-speed drills. Instead of using THUD as a warmup, we go full-speed, but use shorter distances to warm up.

41 Our conditioning is brutal, and I know that helps with our aggression. Enduro, bellies, bunny hops and crab walks are staples here.

42 Parent’s Meeting Prepare them for what is about to come. Parents didn’t show up? Have another meeting.

43 “I am writing to inform you that my sons ***** and ***** will not be returning to play football with the Durham Eagles. Let me state that I am disappointed in myself for not researching deeply enough what I was going to be subjecting my sons to. I had attended a game last year and spoke with other parents who have had kids play on Durham Eagles teams. We were looking forward to the season from what information I had of your program.” “While my boys were asked their age and weight, no regard was given to the fact that my boys have never played organized football before. They were immediately put into drills and expected to perform them well without any instruction. Please understand I know football is a very demanding sport both physically and mentally. I played Pop Warner ball as a kid and went on to play High School ball as well, however, from what I saw last night I doubt that most of the coaches I saw on the field could have endured what was being asked of 10,11,&12 year old boys.” from a Parent

44 1) We started the season with 35 players. 2) We lost one player with a dislocated shoulder in the 4 th week of the season. 3) No one quit the team. “Running Kids Off?”

45 1) We started the season with 35 players. 2) We lost one player with a dislocated shoulder in the 4 th week of the season. 3) No one quit the team. “Running Kids Off?”

46 1) We started the season with 35 players. 2) We lost one player with a dislocated shoulder in the 4 th week of the season. 3) No one quit the team. “Running Kids Off?”

47 1) We started the season with 35 players. 2) We lost one player with a dislocated shoulder in the 4 th week of the season. 3) No one quit the team. “Running Kids Off?”

48 More physical practices mean a higher retention rate. “Running Kids Off?”

49 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression?

50 1) Afraid. (Of what?)

51 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression? 1) Afraid. (Of what?)

52 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression? 1) Afraid. (Of what?) Of having a kid get hurt. How to overcome this? Teach safe fundamentals.

53 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression? 1) Afraid. (Of what?) Of having a kid get hurt. How to overcome this? Teach safe fundamentals.

54 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression? 1) Afraid. (Of what?) Of having a kid get hurt. How to overcome this? Teach safe fundamentals.

55 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression? 1) Afraid. (Of what?) Of appearing to be an ogre in front of the parents.

56 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression? 1) Afraid. (Of what?) Of appearing to be an ogre in front of the parents. How to overcome this? Teach safe fundamentals.

57 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression? 1) Afraid. (Of what?) Of appearing to be an ogre in front of the parents. How to overcome this? Gain the parent’s trust.

58 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression? 1) Afraid. (Of what?) Of appearing to be an ogre in front of the parents. How to overcome this? Gain the parent’s trust.

59 Explain to the parents about the play-offs and thug-mentality. Explain about handling adversity. Explain about your program: academics, charity, and social skills building.

60 Gain the parent’s trust. Explain to the parents about the play-offs and thug-mentality. Explain about handling adversity. Explain about your program: academics, charity, and social skills building.

61 Gain the parent’s trust. Explain to the parents about the play-offs and thug-mentality. Explain about handling adversity. Explain about your program: academics, charity, and social skills building.

62 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression? 2) They lack experience.

63 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression? 2) They lack experience. They don’t know what to demand of their kids or how much to demand.

64 Why don’t more coaches teach aggression? 3) They’re lazy.

65 “Yes, We Teach Mojo.” How?

66 “Yes, We Teach Mojo.” How?

67 “Yes, We Teach Mojo.” How? By having zero-tolerance for anything but a player’s best effort.

68 “Mojo” To me, "Mojo" is all about zero-tolerance. We have ZERO-TOLERANCE for anything but their best effort. If you tolerate a lack of discipline, lack of hustle and a poor attitude you will never achieve Mojo. If your players had to go through Hell and back to get on your team, and you display a zero-tolerance for mistakes and a poor attitude, Mojo develops by itself.

69 The Best Thing About Teaching Aggression

70 You don’t have to have talent to teach it. A player does not have to be big, strong or fast to be aggressive. Any player can learn it.

71 The Best Thing About Teaching Aggression You don’t have to have talent to teach it. A player does not have to be big, strong or fast to be aggressive. Any player can learn it.

72 The Best Thing About Teaching Aggression You don’t have to have talent to teach it. A player does not have to be big, strong or fast to be aggressive. Any player can learn it. I can’t teach talent, but I can teach aggression.

73 The Best Thing About Teaching Aggression You don’t have to have talent to teach it. A player does not have to be big, strong or fast to be aggressive. Any player can learn it. I can’t teach talent to a player, but I can teach aggression.

74 “How Do You Get Players to Pursue and Hit?” I am teaching players who are motivated. Why are they motivated? Because they had to go through Hell and back to be able to play for us.

75 “How Do You Get Players to Pursue and Hit?” I am teaching players who are motivated. Why are they motivated? Because they had to go through Hell and back to be able to play for us.

76 “How Do You Get Players to Pursue and Hit?” I am teaching players who are motivated. Why are they motivated? Because they had to go through Hell and back to be able to play for us.

77 “How Do You Get Players to Pursue and Hit?” I am teaching players who are motivated. Why are they motivated? Because they had to go through Hell and back to be able to play for us.

78 The Nuts and Bolts You don’t have to have talent to teach it. A player does not have to be big, strong or fast to be aggressive. Any player can learn it.

79 The First Week of Practice is the Most Important You don’t have to have talent to teach it. A player does not have to be big, strong or fast to be aggressive. Any player can learn it.

80 The First Week of Practice is the Most Important Conditioning (and all the work you have to do BEFORE pads are issued) is the most important time of the season. A player does not have to be big, strong or fast to be aggressive. Any player can learn it.

81 Training a Puppy You don’t wait until you’ve had the puppy for a week before you start to train him. You start training them immediately. If you don’t, your challenge becomes harder. A player does not have to be big, strong or fast to be aggressive. Any player can learn it.

82 Training a Puppy You don’t wait until you’ve had the puppy for a week before you start to train him. You start training them immediately. If you don’t, your challenge becomes harder. A player does not have to be big, strong or fast to be aggressive. Any player can learn it.

83 Training a Puppy You don’t wait until you’ve had the puppy for a week before you start to train him. You start training them immediately. to be aggressive. Any player can learn it.

84 Training a Puppy You don’t wait until you’ve had the puppy for a week before you start to train him. You start training them immediately. If you don’t, your challenge becomes harder. A player does not have to be big, strong or fast to be aggressive. Any player can learn it.

85 Week 1 That's where you can find out the real heart and determination of your players. That's where YOU set the SCALE.

86 Don’t Waste Week 1 Many youth football coaches waste their time (or at least, what I would consider to be wasting time) before pads are issued. They seem to think that practice doesn't really begin until pads have been given out. However, if you don't know the content of your team's character by the time you've issued pads, you are already way behind.

87 Don’t Waste Week 1 What do we say about making practice hard so that the game is easy? We make conditioning hard so that our season is easy.

88 How Many Days Do You Get for Conditioning? You don’t have to have talent to teach it. A player does not have to be big, strong or fast to be aggressive. Any player can learn it.

89 How Many Days Do YOU Get for Conditioning? We condition extensively, thoroughly and aggressively. As a result, we have NO unmotivated dead-weight. Players have to go through Hell and back to play for us. Coaches ask me, “How do you get your players to pursue and hit like that?” It’s because they are highly motivated to play. They have to be. Otherwise, they would never have survived training camp. Some coaches look past conditioning as a relevant teaching tool. Our conditioning reveals character, discipline, determination, heart and desire. Coaches complain about certain players who aren’t motivated but then don’t demand that the players work.

90 How Many Days Do YOU Get for Conditioning? Coaches ask me, “How do you get your players to pursue and hit like that?” It’s because they are highly motivated to play. They have to be. Otherwise, they would never have survived training camp. Some coaches look past conditioning as a relevant teaching tool. Our conditioning reveals character, discipline, determination, heart and desire. Coaches complain about certain players who aren’t motivated but then don’t demand that the players work.

91 How Many Days Do YOU Get for Conditioning? Some coaches look past conditioning as a relevant teaching tool. Our conditioning reveals character, discipline, determination, heart and desire. Coaches complain about certain players who aren’t motivated but then don’t demand that the players work.

92 How Many Days Do YOU Get for Conditioning? Coaches complain about certain players who aren’t motivated but then don’t demand that the players work.

93 During our first week, we do the same "who can catch, throw, kick" that you do. We do this during Hour 1. Kids want to try out for certain positions, but if they're late during Hour 1, they miss out. We condition during Hour 2 when all of the kids have arrived. We are big on conditioning and physical football drills during our conditioning phase. We want to find out from DAY 1 who has the discipline, approach and mind-set to be able to play for us. We do our best to make Week 1 as difficult as it can be (physically and mentally). We yell, fuss, jump up and down, throw our hat and generally try to bombard our players with as much intensity and drama as we can muster. We want to see if they'll crack or toughen up. We must know immediately what type of player they are. If they show weakness (complain, cry, not hustle) we turn up the volume on that particular player. We don't do this to run him off, but to see how he'll continue to react under pressure. We play in a competitive league and region and our players must be able to handle animosity. We have to know that we will be able to count on our players when games are tough, tight, physical and pressure-packed. We must know that even if we trail, our players will not panic. That's why we spend so much of our time and energy "pushing" our players. If they split and crack, they're not for us. If they can withstand the pressure, we know we can go to battle with this player. We have several drills that we use to develop aggression and toughness: ”Circle of Death”"Who Ball Is It?" Bunny Hops"The Gauntlet" Crab Walks"10-Yard Fight" Bellies "The Executioner"

94 The Inefficient Middle School Model

95 Our Philosophy and Approach While my youth team conditions extensively (thus, there is no unmotivated dead-weight), our middle school team pretty much just handed out equipment to players and said "Here. You're on the team." While the middle school had “cuts,” that only consisted of having 40 uniforms for 44 players. If you were one of the worst four players, you got cut. In order to make the team, you didn’t have to do anything except insure that you weren’t one of the four worst players. You could be horrible. You could be the tenth worst player on the team, not accomplish anything during try-outs except not be one of the worst four players and you were on the team. You could be a terrible football player with a bad attitude and you’re still on the team because you aren’t one of the four worst. That’s ridiculous.

96 The Inefficient Middle School Model In middle school, every player had to undergo the same unchallenging process (just sign up and show up), so we had NO IDEA which player is motivated to play, since NONE of our pre-season drills measured heart and motivation. The head coach never challenged any of these players BEFORE they got pads. As a result, we had no idea which players were leaders and which were loafers. By working your kids hard during Conditioning Week, you'll be able to learn who is a loafer and who is a leader.

97 The reason that we're successful with aggression is our emphasis on toughness well before we ever get to hitting or being in pads. Our conditioning is physical and intense. Players have two choices: develop toughness to survive it, or leave. Some leave. Those that remain have to be tough, otherwise they'd have never made it through conditioning. If conditioning is brief, easy, and lacks intensity and you issue equipment to your players and then expect your players to develop toughness afterwards, it becomes a far greater challenge. Coaches shouldn't expect kids who haven't been pushed hard before they were in pads to suddenly get tough after they've been issued pads. Why would they get tough? They’re already on the team.

98 If it’s easy to get on the team, if no demands are made of discipline or toughness before they get on the team (or before pads are issued), then they will not be disciplined or tough after they get on the team.

99 Create the expectation. Create the atmosphere. Create emotional pressure. Condition and Football Drills through Hell and back. Discipline makes them tougher. (2 phrases.) No thud hitting. Hit at full-speed. Hit in all drills. Don’t “block” or “tackle.” “HIT!” Have them earn the right to play for you. Summary

100 "Whose Ball," "Gauntlet" and "10-Yard Fight" can be done without pads and I recommend using them during conditioning week. "Tee Time," "The Executioner" and "Snake Pit" have to wait until you are in pads. However, it's not the particular drills that determine how tough, physical or aggressive your team is. It's how you teach, demonstrate and delegate the drills. If you have a relaxed and laid-back approach to practice, I think your team will also inherit that. I could probably talk for hours about the psychology of teaching aggression and how to get players to buy in. It's most important that you are sure that you understand how to motivate and relate to your players. If you don't, then no drill will help you.

101 Explaining the Importance of the Football This is something I go over every year with all of my players. I came up with this spiel way back during my first year as HC. And here's why I came up with it: During my first year when I was an AC I was standing on the sideline during a game when the other team’s offense fumbled the ball. We had a defensive player who could have easily fallen on the ball, or even picked it up and run with it. However, our player just stood there and watched the ball roll lazily out of bounds. When our HC yelled at the kid, "WHY DIDN'T YOU GET THE BALL?!" the kid looked at the HC and said, "I thought it was their ball." This kid simply didn't know the rules and had never been told by our HC (or by any of us) that they could (and should) go after a free ball. The kid assumed that since we use the terminology of "our ball" or "their ball" that we were actually TAKING TURNS with the ball's possession. I knew right then that I would make sure that whether the kids knew the rules or not, that I would ingrain in my players that it's always OUR ball. Here’s how I explain to our players the importance of the football. This is the my speech, in its entirety: "Gentlemen, what is this I’m holding in my hands?" [I hold a football in front of the team.] They reply, "a football." “That’s right. A football. There is absolutely, positively nothing more important than what I am holding in my hand right now. This is the football. This is our football. When we are on offense, the ball belongs to us. When we are on defense, the ball belongs to us. It is always our ball. There is never, EVER a time when it is not OUR ball. Oh sure, there will come a time when the referee takes our ball and gives it to the other team. GET--IT--BACK! That’s your job. The ball belongs to us. Whether we're on offense or defense, it’s always our ball. We always fight for this ball." [You should see my players do their impression of me giving this speech. LOL. It's hilarious. But it shows me that they know the importance of keeping the ball and getting our ball back.] “Whose Ball Is It?”

102 “Whose Ball Is It?” Fumble Drill

103 There are two rows of players. Two players at once will participate in this drill. One coach puts the football in the face of Player A and yells, “Whose ball is it?” Player A responds, “My ball, Sir!” The coach then puts the football in the face of Player B and yells the same question, “Whose ball is it?” Player B yells back, “My ball, Sir!” “Face front,” says Coach, so that neither player can “cheat” by seeing the when the throw will occur, or in what direction it’s headed. Coach throws ball down the field in any haphazard direction. Both players immediately chase the ball, at full sprint. The first player there recovers the ball by falling to the ground and locking it in his arms, using the “fetal position.” The other player pulls, yanks and fights for the ball in an attempt to take the ball away. Two other coaches (if you have them available) should be “in the ear” of each player that is fighting for the football. The two coaches should also be hollering intense encouragement to both players. Feel free to allow the drill to get as physical as you are comfortable with. We will let the players battle it out for the ball for more than one minute, sometimes going as long as two to three minutes. It is important that players understand that the play doesn’t end when it is recovered by someone else. On the contrary, the play is just beginning. What we are trying to do is get each player to try and end up with the ball. The two other coaches run alongside of the players yelling “encouragement” as the players battle for the ball. This should be a physical, intense and mean-spirited drill. It is not for the timid or weak. The slower and less-aggressive boys will soon understand that it is far easier to recover the ball, if they can get to it first, than to get there second and have to fight for the ball. This drill encourages the slower, less-athletic player to get to the ball quickly. It is important to match the boys evenly in their initial attempts. Also, you can bounce the football in a direction where one player is more likely to recover it (yet another reason to make sure both players “face front”), making the drill easier and more successful for the lesser athlete. We don’t care nearly as much who “wins” the drill, as we do care about developing aggression and teaching the importance of the football. We usually end the drill when both players have equal possession of the ball.

104 “Whose Ball Is It?” Fumble Drill Our fumble drill is literally a fight. Lots of torn shirts, scraped elbows, bloody noses and a few tears. But it develops an Alpha-pack mentality. Here’s what to expect during our “Whose Ball Is It?” (1-on-1) fumble drills: BLOODY KNEES BLOODY ELBOWS BLOODY NOSES TORN SHIRTS DIRT IN EYES DIRT IN MOUTH TEARS Here’s what they learn during our “Whose Ball Is It?” (1-on-1) fumble drills: AGGRESSIVENESS IMPORTANCE OF THE FOOTBALL HOW TO PROPERLY RECOVER A FUMBLE FIGHT TO THE WHISTLE GETTING USED TO HAVING THEIR HANDS & BODIES ON OTHERS BEING ON THE GROUND NEVER QUIT DESPITE THEY’RE BLEEDING & HAVE DIRT IN THEIR EYES TEACHES EVEN THE SLOWEST & LEAST AGGRESSIVE PLAYER TO GET TO THE BALL FIRST (because it’s easier to get there first and hold onto the ball, than it is to arrive second, and then have to fight for it).

105 The Gauntlet

106

107 Gauntlet Drill I don't like drills that steal time or are solo drills. (A solo drill being a drill that only benefits one player.) Our Gauntlet Drill improves everyone that participates in it. (And we can use every player on our team in this drill.) As with our other drills, the key to its success doesn't lie in the drill itself, but in our approach to the drill. This is physically one of the toughest drills we do. We attempt to motivate our players into a "feeding frenzy" so that they all want to do is attack. A ball-carrier will be easily victimized in this drill, unless he attacks the Gauntlet with intensity. We want our ball-carriers to be "harbingers of pain;" that is, not to be the victim of a tackler, but to hit the tackler so that it is the tackler that is victimized. Backs are usually "targets" for the aggressive Linebacker. We want the aggressive Linebacker to be the target of our ball-carrier. We teach our Backs to hold the football "high and tight" in an old-school sort of way where both elbows are up high and out. He will use his elbows and forearms as weapons. When a defender approaches our ball-carrier, we want our ball-carrier to launch his elbow and forearm into the defender. We have found that by having our Backs use this approach, more defenders become "fly-by's" or "almost there's" (Defenders who either run by the tackler, or make a fake attempt to make a tackle.) When tacklers are the ones getting "jacked," they are less likely to be as aggressive. The Gauntlet Drill develops the elbow and forearm technique of the ball-carrier. It teaches him to hold on to the ball. It teaches him to run low with good body lean and it teaches him to run with high knees as he runs through the confined tunnel of the Gauntlet. We have our players form a tunnel, with approximately 10 players on each side. They are the "ball strippers." We use two Centers and two QBs: one pair on the right side of the tunnel and one pair on the left side of the tunnel. The ball-carriers line up deep and in the middle so that when they run straight ahead, they can take the handoff from the QB and run straight up The Gauntlet. The Center and QB on the right will snap the ball and pivot to the left to handoff to the ball-carrier. They alternate with the Center and QB on the left who will pivot to the right to handoff to the ball-carrier. QBs will switch sides and work on their other pivot with the other Center when handing off the ball.

108 The "ball strippers" will use several techniques to strip the football loose from the ball-carrier. Using one hand only, they might use a rip (or swim) technique to pop the football loose. They can also punch the ball-carrier, hitting the football, his arm, hand, hip or ribs. They can knee the ball-carrier in the thigh or they can hit him in the back (this is a common technique as the ball-carrier's body lean will expose his back). Waiting for the ball-carrier at the end of the Gauntlet are two players with shields and very bad attitudes. They try to smash the ball-carrier as the ball-carrier tries to run them over. The real intensity in the drill (and where it can risk getting out of hand) is if there's a fumble. The ball-carrier has to pick up the ball and still make it through The Gauntlet. But once he reaches down to pick up the ball, he's vulnerable to a "beat down." Essentially 20 kids are beating and kneeing him. This drill starts out at the beginning of the season with Backs getting frustrated and tears are shed. After they get used to the drill, they just get mean and physical. They run through the Gauntlet faster and more physical, throwing forearms and elbows and running over anyone who tries to get in their way. The coaches have to keep a high intensity atmosphere while also making sure that the drill doesn't bubble out of control. After the Centers & QBs have practiced their snaps, the Centers get in the tunnel and the QBs are able to run with the ball. At this point, we add another football so that the ball-carriers must carry two footballs at the same time (one in each arm) without fumbling. I like the drill because we are able to practice the Center/QB exchange, as well as the QB's handoff to the ball- carrier. Both Centers and both QBs get to work with each other and all of the Backs. The Backs learn to carry the ball in an aggressive manner without fumbling and the ball-strippers learn strip and punch-out techniques while the shield holders just enjoy teeing off.

109 2-ON-1 TACKLING DRILL (Tee Time) Ball-Carrier is on his back. Tacklers stand behind their cone. On the signal, ball-carrier gets up and runs straight downfield. Tacklers must round their cone and come back to make tackle. Variations to this drill may allow Ball-Carrier to juke, spin, cut or simply run straight ahead. Adjustments may include moving the ball-carrier’s cone forward or back, or moving the Tacklers’ cones forwards or back. Cones should be placed between yards downfield.

110 “The 10-Yard Fight”

111 The Executioner


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