Having a dominating defensive line is a must if you are trying to establish a solid defense. Far too many youth football coaches ignore the defensive line and look to hide their weaker players here. What a mistake!
Check out this article from Sean McCormick teaching you how use the blocking sled on a daily basis to make your defensive line better.
Every Day Drills for the Defensive Line
From Sean McCormick
Every Day Drills (EDD’s) offer a great way for defensive line coaches to get the most out of practice time while keeping the players’ interest. Introduce players to these drills and explain the fundamental focus of each drill. Choose two or three of these drills daily to sharpen the player’ skills.
Players are positioned in a six-point stance (Hands/Knees/Toes on ground). The buttocks of players should be touching their heels (as close as possible). On the whistle/ball simulation, players are to explode out of this stance – rolling the hips and firing arms out as if attacking o-lineman. Have players land on chest and stomach. Watch for proper firing out hip roll techniques. Also, make sure hands are ready to attack lineman with the thumb and forefinger forming a “V.” The forefinger is pointing upward. Players tend to point thumbs up, which can cause greater stress to wrist when the player strikes with the punch. Have players fire out and recoil (back in 6 pt.) until they pass a predetermined end point (10-15 yards downfield).
Purpose of the Drill: It creates muscle memory on proper hip roll and striking out with arms, and also conditions players’ stomachs for hits as they are landing on the ground. It also stretches the quad muscles.
The defensive line faces the offensive line. A coach will instruct the offensive players to:
•Down Block – the line blocks at an angle towards the inside or outside of the opposing defensive lineman.
•Block Head-On – each player fires out to block the defensive lineman directly in front of him.
•Trap Block – an offensive player “steps” behind the center and runs to block a purposely unblocked defender who is “trapped” to believe no one is blocking him.
The defensive line has to react to each of the blocks. If an offensive lineman down blocks, the defender must read it quickly and get into position for taking on the trap block with a wrong-arm technique. This is a full speed drill.
Purpose of the Drill: This drill familiarizes defensive linemen with blocking methods used by opposing offenses.
A defensive player lines up facing an offensive blocker. On the snap of ball, the defender is to strike/punch (remember the “V” hand position), and proceed to use PUSH-PULL technique (One hand pulls the offensive player toward him, while the other hand pushes that side of player away from him.). The defensive player uses the Rip move to the “away” side.
Purpose of the Drill: It teaches the proper Push/Pull/Rip technique.
A defensive player lines up facing an offensive blocker. On snap of the ball, the defender fires out and uses the Club (quick closed hand punch of one side of blocker) move, quickly followed by a Rip from opposite arm.
Purpose of the Drill: It teaches the player a companion rush move to the Push/Pull/Rip technique.
Double Team Drill
A defensive lineman lines straight up on an offensive player. A second offensive player lines up next to first offensive player. On command, a double team block, a head-on block, or a down block will be performed. The defender must recognize which of the three blocks is being attempted. If it is a double team, he rips into double team and “gets skinny” by twisting upper body to make his shoulder pads perpendicular to the offensive linemen. The objective is to split the defenders, and get through to make the tackle. The defensive player must work on quick recognition. If he cannot split the double team block, the defender will create a pile-up by dropping to his knees while pulling down on the blockers jersey front/shoulder pads.
Purpose of the Drill: It simulates game-like conditions, teaching the player quick recognition of blocks, and preventing a successful double team block.
Pass Rush Drill: A defensive lineman lines straight up on an offensive player. At the ball snap, the defender practices the Bull Rush, Rip, Push-Pull-Rip, and Club-Rip techniques while staying in pass rush lane.
Purpose of the Drill: Defensive players perfect their pass rush techniques, and learn to locate the quarterback quickly.
Use a football-on-a-stick to simulate the football snap instead of blowing a whistle. This conditions defensive linemen to watch the ball being snapped by the center. (Slice a small wedge out of a sponge-like football, place the end of a yard stick into the opening, and duct tape the yard stick to the football. Angle the stick to make it easier for the coach to simulate the snap.)
If you can get a coach to dedicate to your defensive line, I will guarantee that your team will become a more dominate force in your league.