Drills for the Wing-T Running Back

Drills for the Wing-T Running Back

I’ve spent my time as an offensive line coach so I don’t get to be around the backs much unless we are doing team offense. My backs coach, Jack Alley, is a huge believer in a core set of drills for Wing-T backs, and we call our collective set of independent (indy) drills that we routinely run “every day drills” (EDDs). I can relate to the value of step and block repetition for linemen — it’s like a choreographed dance routine. Running backs, on the other hand, are solo artists and spend most of their time improvising. Play repetition make sense to me so that we have good mesh and fakes for the Wing-T plays, but early in my coaching career, those agility drills seemed like a waste of time.

It wasn’t until I noticed how many times I would hear Jack yelling “EDDs baby!” during games when a back effectively stiff-armed a defender (or nearly fell over after being hit but managed to stay upright while balancing off an arm) that I began to see how important these drills are. I now find myself watching high school games with former players and yelling out “EDDs baby!” after seeing a fullback cover the ball with both arms as he dives forward.

Don’t underestimate the value of repetition on these basic drills. Be creative and introduce new ways of teaching these basics, but when in doubt, stick to your EDDs.

Warm-Up and Agility Drills

These are the every day drills (EDDs) we’ve been using for a few seasons. They mix dynamic warm-ups, agility and footwork, core strength, and specific skill development needed for running backs.

Setup a row of 7 to 10 cones on a line spaced about 2 feet apart. Line players up at one end of the cones facing down the line. Each player should carry a ball.

RAPID FIRE: Player kicks knees high, tucks ball high and tight. When he comes back to repeat the other side, switch ball to other side to practice carrying both ways. Start with a slower pace and work to fast pace.

SNAKE: Player weaves in and out of the cones, alternately kicking inside foot out through cones to land on that foot. Again, switch the ball to other side when coming back other direction.

DOUBLE TAP: Like the snake drill, but player brings outside foot across and taps it next to plant foot, repeating with the weaving motion through the cones.

POP UPS: Take some of the cones out to leave only four left, spaced about 4 feet apart. Players start just offset from the cones, and the start of the drill looks like the rapid fire drill. Carry the ball on the outside arm. When he reaches the next cone, stop, bend at the waist keeping leg straight, and touch down to ground near cone with non-ball carrying hand. Switch sides on return trip.

SQUIRM: With the cones spaced like in the pop ups drill, players run to the next cone, plant off-hand on the ground and do a full spin around the cone and repeat with each cone. Switch sides and ball carrying arm on return trip.

HANDOFF: We also call this the criss-cross drill. Divide players in half and put each group at one end of the cones. Use a single ball and have players run at each other and give a handoff to the other player. Start slow and work up to high speed.

Blocking Drills

LINE BLOCKING DRILLS: The offensive line blocking progression I talk about in “Drill 3” (individual blocks) is very relevant for the backs, especially the backer and gap blocks. The backs should start in a 2 point stance.

WB BLOCKING DRILL: This drill is good for play-side RB blocking sweeps. The RB steps with inside foot first with eyes and head leading to the defenseman’s numbers. The inside hand should go under front of shoulder pads; outside hand to hip (like you are shaking hands), lock on to the hip and drive the defender inside.

ISO BLOCKING DRILL: This is a good drill for ISO and Blast plays. Use two large bags and a shield. Make a gap for the backs to run through; the other RB with a shield is the LB. Blocker runs through the gap blocking the LB (you can add a following RB to use as a reading and running drill). Players should get low, keep elbows in, throw hands up, and snap head back. When blocking they should pop hips forward and start legs chopping.

KICK-OUT DRILL: Put the RB in jet motion, then hit the INSIDE shoulder of defender and drive him outside.

PASS BLOCK DRILL: The RB mirrors coach and blocks/rides to the outside. RB should sit in chair and use hands.