Forcing Fumbles In Football
More often than not, teams that force turnovers win football games. Truly, it can be that simple. In 2014, the Green Bay Packers had a league-high +14 turnover differential and made it within a play of the Super Bowl. After that? The New England Patriots ranked 2nd with an impressive +12 differential. They, of course, would later go on to defeat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. So while a high turnover differential doesn’t guarantee success, it most certainly puts in team in a great position to achieve it. Actually forcing those turnovers, however, is a completely different story and quality opponents won’t give many opportunities to strike. For developing athletes, there are a couple crucial skills needed in order to cause a fumble, so CoachUp has put together a smattering of our favorites. Remember, practicing them may not immediately yield results, but they certainly will down the road, perhaps in the season’s biggest moments.
Breach Their Security
In order to maintain security, running backs are taught to cover both ends of the football. Any prepared athlete will cover the top of the football with the palm of his hand and the other where his bicep and forearm meet. Before making any moves out of the backfield, a good back will make sure the ball is adequately protected. But, as a defensive player, it will be your responsibility to attack those points on the ball. A sharply placed hit or strong arm can loosen his hold on the ball, making it easier to force out. Smart defensive players know better than to attempt a strip on every play, but will look for their best opportunity to pounce.
When an opponent tries to fight through a tackle, he can lose focus on the ball. The running back, preoccupied by his attempts to keep his feet moving and his body off the turf, may be vulnerable for attack. Using your fist, punch the ball out from the carrier’s loosened grip and dive on it. Similarly, an opponent with open space in front of him may not be expecting a strip from behind him. As always, staying mentally sharp as others lose focus will always benefit the more cerebral athlete.
Typically enough, however, it tends to be difficult to strip the ball from a strong, seasoned athlete, so then what? Usually, defensive players will opt for a hard tackle and body blow. Humans naturally want to react when confronted with a person or object flying at their face -- it doesn’t matter if it’s a bug, ball, or another athlete. These involuntary reactions can often place the ball in a more vulnerable position, so capitalize on them.
(Related: Read about proper tackling form here).
For a pass rusher, there are few sights more salivating than an unprotected quarterback. In particular, quarterbacks are programmed to release the ball at a moment’s notice and will usually hold the it up and away from their body -- or, the perfect spot for an incoming attack. And, in certain situations, you could be set up for the ideal hit from the quarterback’s blind side. At which point, defensive players have a few options: they can go for the big hit and jar it loose that way, or they can sweep their hand down on the quarterback’s forearms and see what happens from there.
Great offensive players, like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, won’t throw many interceptions, so the defense often relies on forcing fumbles. Most of it depends on your timing, but making sure you capitalize on the opportunities that come your way will make you the best football player possible. If you're still struggling with your ability to force fumbles, consider one of CoachUp's private trainers, they'll set you straight in no time!