Three Drills for Running Backs

Before beginning any drills, make sure your players get in a good stretch. Erik Isakson - Getty Images

The running back position is a unique one on the football field. Outside of quarterback, the running back may be asked to do more than anybody. They are charged with blocking for the quarterback, catching the football and, yes, running the ball, too.

With so many responsibilities, these players have a lot to work on.

So to help, here are three drills designed to develop a running back’s skills and keep them sharp.

Warm Up Drills

Before a running back can work on anything, they need to properly stretch out for practice. Here is a drill, with an added variation, to help get their legs loose and ready to run.

High knees - Line your runners up in a straight line and, one at a time, have them run straight ahead while lifting their knees as high as they can. Speed is not the key here, so make sure they aren’t trying to run as fast as possible.

The idea for the drill is to help get the leg muscles loose.

High knees with spin - This is exactly what it sounds like. Take the above high knee drill and have your runners do that for five yards or so. When they hit the five-yard mark, have them do a 360-degree spin (like they are avoiding a tackler) to the right. When they exit the spin, have them accelerate as fast as they can and run 10 yards.

After they do this, have them do the same, spinning to the left.

First Step Drill

This drill works on the proper stance and push off for the running back.

The back should be lined up with his feet underneath his shoulders and slightly bent at the knees and at the waist.

Next, have the runner work on his first step when running straight ahead. For this exercise, the runner can push off whichever leg they choose, but make sure they also swing the opposite arm when they do.

So if they use the right foot to push off, they should swing the left arm forward.

Have the runner work on this several times in a row, never moving more than a yard or two from their original position. The idea is to just get a feel for the push off and a good initial burst.

After they have this down, work on right and left.

When going left, the left leg should be the first step, with the right arm turning to follow and the right foot giving a push off.

When going right it is the opposite. The right leg is the first step with the left arm turning to follow and a push coming from the left foot.

Again, keep working on these until the runner can do it without even thinking about it. Adding these basic drills into your warm up session can’t hurt either.

Hitting The Hole

Line three defensive players up on the defensive side of the ball, shoulder to shoulder, on one side or the other of the center. Give each a blocking pad.

Have a running back lined up in his usual spot behind a quarterback, who will have the ball.

Have the QB simulate the snap and hand the ball off to the running back in the direction of the three defensive players. As he approaches the line, instruct one of the three defensive players to take a step back.

The running back should adjust his path toward the newly opened “hole” by cutting to take advantage of the opening. He should then run for about 10 yards after clearing the line.

Repeat as often as you want, making sure to change which defensive player steps back each time.

This drill will help the running back read blocks, find the hole and hit it with the proper authority.