To many new athletes, they are quick to assume that it’s all about the big hits and long touchdowns -- but that couldn’t be further from the truth! In fact, it’s often the smallest details that help players succeed the most. These details are described as IQ basics and are hardly physical traits, but rather just simple things that the best athletes automatically and subconsciously execute without being told to do so. So, you might have the running, jumping, and throwing down -- but are you familiar with these? I promise that you’ll start seeing quick improvements if you commit to learning these foundational skills.
Handling the Ball Remember to hold the ball in the hand closest to the sideline while running. It’s inherently harder for a defender to force a fumble this way -- and if you do fumble, the ball has a much higher chance of going out of bounds. This, of course, will leave possession with your team instead of turning it over.
After Late Game interceptions
If your team has intercepted the ball late in the game with an insurmountable lead, it’s often the right call to go down intentionally after the catch. This may seem unnecessary, but you do this to prevent a re-turnover. When your team can win by taking a knee, do not tempt fate gaining unnecessary yardage because a fumble on the return could be disastrous.
Playing On The Defensive Line
It’s important to remember that you still have a chance to impact the play even if you’re not getting to the quarterback. So, be sure to get your hands up to create even more obstacles for your opponent. Almost every quarterback will have trouble seeing their receiver and then and getting the football through those ten hands.
Running out the clock
Bleeding out the clock with a lead is a great way to secure victory. Do your best not to run out of bounds as this will stop the clock. Depending on down and distance, it’s often better to go down purposely to keep the clock running than it is to get an extra yard but be forced out of bounds.
On Kick returns
As a kick returner, try running straight up the middle initially, regardless what side you receive the ball at. When you run at the center, defenders will break their lanes and run toward the ball. After drawing the undisciplined players in, the returner can then cut to the outside and tons of wide, open space.
Ready position + staying low
Don’t get lazy, stay low! It may be easy to take some plays off, but you never truly know when the ball will come your way. The taller you are, the easier you’ll be knocked over or abused by your opponent. Furthermore, the lower you go into the ready position, the more unmovable you’ll be as a blocker, lineman, or carrier.
Down Field Blocking
When blocking down field as either a receiver or lineman, you must be under control in order to be effective. Running full speed may influence your balance and ability against the opponent. Most of this momentum can be used to your advantage by changing to choppier steps when you come within two yards of the person you’d like to block. As always, be low and in control.
Push the Pile
When the ball carrier is being tackled but struggling for extra yardage, push the pile! Directly pushing your player is a penalty, but pushing the defensive players trying to tackle your player will result in more yardage for the offense. Don’t forget that every yard counts!
(Related: Read about selecting a private coach here.)
Ultimately, there is no true, defined recipe for success in football. There is too much randomness, chaos, and on-the-fly change for the most skilled players to always win. That’s why it’s incredibly important to learn the above traits so you can easily implement them into your game without thinking about it. They may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a tipped pass, the awareness to go down, or that extra yard from a pile that will win or lose you the biggest games. Becoming an intelligent player doesn’t just benefit you either, but will affect the entire team around you as well. What are you waiting for?
(This article was written by Coach John A!)
Be prepared for the biggest moments by mastering the small ones off the field.