A recent submission to the CoachUp Q&A was geared towards developing technique among youth football players—specifically offensive lineman. With the way that the game has evolved, demand for creativity in the passing game has skyrocketed and protecting the quarterback is as important as anything in today’s iteration of football. The spread offense is predominant across the football landscape, and protecting the quarterback is as valuable a skill as any other on the gridiron. In this blog we will cover some of the best pass blocking drills to teach and run with youth football players. These drills will help athletes better understand the proper techniques of offensive line play, and simulate the execution of winning moves in the trenches.
What are the best pass blocking drills for youth football?
Set and Punch Drill
This is one of the best offensive line drills to begin with for youth football players. It teaches offensive lineman how to set into blocks with a strong base and posture and to deliver a timely punch to redirect pass rushers. Pass blocking is often one of the greatest difficulties of youth football, as many young players make the mistake of a lackadaisical step backward on the snap, which exposes them to the bull rush, minimizing the quarterback’s time to make a throw. The ideal first move, contrarilly, is to step into the block assignment (set), and direct the rush (punch) away from the passer.
Here is a short video from USA Football that breaks down the best way to align players for the drill, and the key coaching points to preach throughout its execution.
The mirror drill will help young offensive lineman to develop their lateral agility, which is essential to manipulating the opposing pass rush and to form and maintain the pocket. For the drill, set up two cones (or whatever markers you have available) five to seven yards apart. You will have two athletes line up face-to-face in the center of the cones, one playing the role of offensive line, and the other a defensive player. The defensive player will move laterally between the cones, and the offensive lineman in the drill will mirror their every move from an athletic stance—butt low, shoulders back, arms out—without crossing his feet.
The intention of the goal is to simulate the appropriate movements lineman will make to defend the quarterback against the opponents pass rush, while strengthening muscles that improve lateral agility. The mirror drill can be kicked up a notch by setting a time on how long the defensive player will make lateral moves between the cones. When that time is up, you can “release” them to make a move on the offensive lineman, simulating an actual play and helping young offensive lineman to learn to defend a variety of moves.
Offensive line pass blocking drills for youth football
Blocking Box — Knock Out
This is the most physical of the three offensive line drills that we will discuss here. Build a box out of blocking pads, or lay down a chalk or paint line on the field in the shape of a square that is about 10 feet by 10 feet. You will line up two players across from each other with their heels against opposing outer edges of the box. Have them get set in their three-point stance, and on your call, they break to meet in the middle. This drill simulates exploding out of the stance and making contact with the opposition. It also simulates competition, as the goal is to knock the opponent out of the box.
Lay out some stakes, so that if there is no winner, or the block gets carried weakly out of the side of the box, each player will have some sort of debt to pay—pushups, burpees, whatever you choose. The competitive nature of this drill will do more than physically prepare young lineman for games. It will help them build a mental edge as well. If every player across the offensive line can win on passing plays, the team can move the ball better and improve their chances at winning games.
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