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Player Tips/Drills

__________ PLAYER TIPS/DRILLS __________

Tips and hints for becoming a better player!

ALWAYS listen to your coaches.  If any of these tips tell you to do something different than what your coaches want, do what your coaches say... they have their reasons for what they ask you to do.  These tips are intended to provide general information that helps you become a better player.  These tips will be particularly useful for rookie players, but players at any level of experience (even professionals) can benefit from keeping the following tips in mind.  Look for Lineman tips soon!

 

___ TIPS for ALL PLAYERS ___


Sportsmanship, Preparation, Effort

  • ALWAYS show respect for coaches, officials, parents, spectators, and other players.  Let the coaches handle any disputes or protests.  Do not retaliate if someone gives you a cheap shot... the referee will usually only see the retaliation by you, which could lead to penalties on both you and the team.  Get back at them by winning the game!
  • ALWAYS go to practice!  You get into shape, learn plays, and endure tough conditions with teammates while at practice.  If you aren't around much, then don't expect to play much, because coaches notice when you miss practice.
  • ALWAYS stretch before and after practices and games.  Players should spend 15-20 minutes stretching (not including "warm-up" drills) before taking part in live action drills and play and 2-10 minutes stretching afterwards.  In addition, after halftime of a game, players should spend at least 5 minutes stretching before starting the second half.
  • ALWAYS know (1) the score, (2) the down, (3) the distance needed for a first down, and, when possible, (4) the time remaining in the quarter/half/game.  If you are on the sideline, make sure you know what position you might be called to play and what you need to do if called into the game.  Glance up at the scoreboard frequently during games.
  • ALWAYS play full speed.  You want to be the one delivering the hit instead of taking it.
  • ALWAYS know where the ball is.  It may bounce your way!  The ball ALWAYS belongs to your team.  Either PROTECT IT or GET IT BACK!
  • ALWAYS find someone to block.  If your man is already blocked or falls down, find someone else to block.  A brush/push block that gets the job done is as good as any crushing pancake block.
  • ALWAYS tackle well.  Butt Low.  Facemask Forward.   Watch a runner’s stomach/waist (he can’t juke you out with his midsection).  Slam your shoulder into his numbers and explode!  Drive with your legs!  Wrap up!  Grab anything!  Everybody has to tackle at some point (even an offensive player has to tackle a defensive player after a turnover) and being a good tackler can get you in on the action for special teams plays.
  • ALWAYS carry the ball properly.  If you carry the ball (and every player may very well have to do so at some point) keep the front tip of the ball in your palm and squeeze it tightly into your armpit.  This creates a three-point pocket of protection (hand, arm, chest), making it much harder to dislodge.  When possible, carry the ball in the arm AWAY from the nearest opponent.  And remember… there may always be someone coming up from behind you to knock the ball out.
  • ALWAYS be prepared to throw, to rush with, and to catch the ball.  You may be needed to play another position or to play a special role for a special play.
  • ALWAYS stand or take a knee on the sideline near your position coach(es) when not in the game or when taking part in a drill at practice.  They may want you at any time.  Keep your mind in the game because you do not know when you will be called to go back into the game.  Rarely, if ever, sit on the bench – it is reserved for the injured, the exhausted, the disinterested, and the timid.  Unless that’s where you want to end up – stay away from the bench!
  • ALWAYS make noise when you play.  Communicate with teammates:  On defense, yell "PASS" when the QB is about to throw and "BALL" when the ball is in the air (or on the ground).  Call out "LEFT" or "RIGHT" or "REVERSE" whenever you detect the movement of the ball.  And most of all -- scream and shout like a marauding invader to startle and disrupt your opponent's concentration and focus.  Yelling and grunting when you tackle (like a martial arts fighter) also allows you to blast into the the ball carrier with more energy.
  • ALWAYS stay hydrated.  Drink plenty of liquids – especially water – throughout games and during practices.

__ TIPS for QUARTERBACKS __


Quarterback (QB)

  • ALWAYS hold yourself to a higher standard than others.  The QB is not only the leader of the offense on the field, but -- like it or not -- he is also looked to as one of the leaders of the entire team.  Because of this, QBs need to earn the respect of their teammates not just by doing everything everybody else does... the QB should work harder than anyone else on the team.
  • ALWAYS stay near the Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator when you are on the sidelines.  They may want to go over their plans for the next offensive series with you, especially if it involves something special.
  • ALWAYS know the down, distance to a first down, field position, and time remaining in the period.  It is your job to know these details.  Be aware of situational factors, like when you need to run out of bounds instead of trying for more yards, or when to throw an incomplete pass on purpose.
  • ALWAYS communicate with teammates.  Encourage and energize them when you are in the huddle or on the sidelines.
  • ALWAYS be patient.  Make sure all needed teammates are on the field, in their proper place, and set in their stances before starting the snap count.  Part of your job as QB is to remain calm under pressure and to avoid silly mistakes by your team.
  • ALWAYS bark the snap count in a clear and loud voice.  Every player on the field needs to hear you, including the receivers who may be way out on the edge of the formation.  In fact, everyone in the stadium should be able to hear you.
  • ALWAYS make sure hand-offs are made effectively.  It is your responsibility to make sure there are no fumbled hand-offs.  Tell your running backs to raise their elbows CLOSEST to you on hand-offs.
  • ALWAYS stand tall when throwing out of the pocket.  You may get hammered by a defensive pass rusher, but your job is to take the hit and deliver good throws to your receivers.  If you can't throw the ball or scramble, take a sack.  A sack is usually better than a bad pass resulting in an interception.  Better yet, throw the ball out of bounds (but beyond the line of scrimmage).
  • ALWAYS throw with your receivers (WRs and RBs) regularly, even in the off-season.  It takes familiarity and understanding of each other’s playing styles to make a passing game work effectively.  The same is true for QBs working with Centers on snaps and snap counts.
  • ALWAYS be ready if you are a backup QB.  You never know when you will be called on to step in and lead your team to victory.  You need to be prepared to do all of the things above... and more.

__ TIPS for DEFENSIVE BACKS __


Defensive Back (DB)

  • ALWAYS think “pass” first.  At the point when you are certain it is not a pass, you can then commit to the run and pursue the ball carrier. There are several keys for defensive backs in determining “run” or “pass”... (1) When offensive linemen move downfield... (2) When a ball carrier crosses the line of scrimmage.  Remember, running backs can always pass as long as they haven’t crossed the line of scrimmage... (3) When wide receivers sustain blocks instead of running routes downfield.  Don’t be fooled by fakes to a running back, known as “play-action” (meaning “run-action”) passes.  Trust your linemen and linebackers to do their jobs while you focus on your main job – the pass.  NOBODY gets behind you!
  • ALWAYS turn running plays back toward the inside.  Doing so is critical to shutting down an opponent’s running game.  Cornerbacks MUST turn sweeps to their side back into the middle of the field.  That way, the running back has to head back into your teammates.  You may not make the actual tackle, but at least you will cut off the outside escape route for the ball carrier.  Once you decide it is a sweep to your side, sprint to about the line of scrimmage – but DO NOT over-commit and drift too far into the opponent’s backfield… hang out right around the line of scrimmage, making sure the ball carrier does not get around you.  NOBODY gets outside of you!
  • ALWAYS turn your head and look for the ball when the receiver you are covering looks for the ball.  At the same time, throw your arms and hands up between the receiver and the ball.  Of course, intercept the ball if you can, but DO NOT let the receiver catch the ball.  Scratch, claw, jab, and slap at the ball if he gets his hands on it.  NOBODY catches a pass on you!

___ TIPS for RECEIVERS ___


Wide Receiver (WR)

  • ALWAYS go full speed, exaggerating your movements and cuts when running routes.  A receiver is as much an actor as he is an athlete.
  • ALWAYS run crisp and consistent routes.  The QB needs to know you are where you are supposed to be -- and he throws it where you WILL be not where you ARE -- so keep running your routes full speed.  In addition, proper separation from the other receivers is one key to a successful play.
  • ALWAYS keep your back foot planted firmly when exploding from your stance on the snap count.  Do not take a stutter step (unless you are covered in a “bump-and-run” by DB and need to juke him out at the snap).
  • ALWAYS run a route as if the ball will be thrown to you.  Expect the ball to come to you every time.  When you make the cut/turn in your route, make sure to look for the ball as if it is already in the air coming toward you.
  • ALWAYS wave your arm(s) after making your cut(s).  It makes you a more visible target and lets the QB know you are ready for the ball.
  • ALWAYS catch every pass thrown your way.  Even if a pass looks “uncatchable,” make it a challenge to catch it anyway, if at all possible.  Also, catch the ball with your hands as much as you can -- though this is NOT always the best option (for example, catching punts).  Catching the ball with your hands allows you to catch it at its highest point -- before defenders can get it (and doing so also lets you grab it away from a defensive back if necessary).  However you do it, CATCH the BALL!
  • ALWAYS know where the sideline is and avoid getting pushed out of bounds by a defender – or running out of bounds accidentally – because you then become ineligible to catch a pass (or to even touch the ball until someone else does first) on that play.
  • ALWAYS come back toward the QB after running your route and seeing that he is in trouble.  You can serve as either a blocker or as a receiver as he tries to escape.
  • ALWAYS line up correctly and be responsible for making sure that there are 7 offensive players on the line of scrimmage.  You may have to move either up or back (or to tell a teammate to move up or back) in order to avoid an illegal formation penalty on the offense.  Wide receivers should be sure to check with the official on the sideline EACH PLAY to ensure they are either on (or off) the line and not off-sides.

__ TIPS for RUNNING BACKS __


Running Back (RB)

  • ALWAYS take hand-offs properly by raising your elbow CLOSEST to the QB (or whichever player is handing the ball off to you).  Nothing indicates poor training like taking a hand-off incorrectly does (except failing to do the next thing listed below).
  • ALWAYS carry the ball properly.  Keep the front tip of the ball in your palm and squeeze it tightly into your armpit.  This creates a three-point pocket of protection (hand, arm, chest), making it much harder to dislodge.  When possible, carry the ball in the arm AWAY from the nearest opponent.  And remember… there may always be someone coming up from behind you to knock the ball out. Carrying the ball with one hand and out away from your body only makes you look like a poorly trained poser on the playground during recess.
  • ALWAYS stay about 4 yards away from -- and slightly behind -- the QB when you are the pitch man on an option play.  The QB needs room to make a good pitch, and if you are too close, the defender might be able to tackle either of you (which defeats the point of the whole play).
  • ALWAYS blast through the designated hole on a running play.  The hole is not designed to be open forever, so if you hesitate, it may close up before you can get through it.
  • ALWAYS run "north and south" (meaning goal line to goal line) instead of "east and west" (sideline to sideline).  Make a move and sprint up field.
  • ALWAYS be aware of the down, distance to a first down, and other situational factors.  That way, you will know when to step out of bounds instead of fighting for an extra yard, but staying in bounds.  Also, know when to carry the ball in both arms, like on inside runs and when running the clock out.
  • ALWAYS catch every pass thrown your way.  Even if a pass looks “uncatchable,” make it a challenge to catch it anyway, if at all possible.  In the Jackets' spread offense, running backs are often required to catch the ball.  Catch the ball with your hands as much as you can -- though this is NOT always the best option (for example, catching punts).  Catching the ball with your hands allows you to catch it at its highest point -- before defenders can get it (and doing so also lets you grab it away from a defensive back if necessary).

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