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uclaqbBy Sam Nichols, Managing Editor, X&O Labs

Pocket movement is important, but if the QB doesn't know how to get out of the pocket when he has trouble he can often create more problems than he had before. This article covers drills from multiple coaches that help QB's get out of the pocket to make plays.


By Sam Nichols
Managing Editor
X&O Labs
Twitter: @SNicholsXOLabs

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uclaqbThe article is centered around how to properly escape the pocket when things break down.  After the quarterback has worked through his initial progression and is overwhelmed by pressure, he will have to escape to keep the play alive.  Before we get into the different drills that coaches use to teach these escape mechanisms, lets take a look at how coaches are teaching players to know when to escape.  Here are some approaches that were shared with us as part of our survey. 

For us there are two words trouble and pressure. If you are in trouble (being touched or about to be hit) get out of trouble escape and keep the play alive. When our QB is under Pressure(people at his feet, defender being blocked by him) they need to hang in the pocket and deliver an accurate ball. Avoiding pressure and delivering an accurate ball is the most important part of playing QB for us. - Steve McNeely, QB Coach, Mt. Union College

We have a built in escape plan on every pass so it is up to our quarterback. If our QB sees blitz he must attempt to make the hot throw if it is taken away he will escape through B-gap, but making sure his eyes stay down field. – Mike Rowe, Head Coach, Rocori HS

At Anderson, we on average can get the ball snapped and thrown in our pass game in roughly 2.5/3 seconds. So anytime we are doing 7on7 or Routes on Air I try to always have distractions for our QB’s. I will throw hand shields at them or take a broom out to practice and swing it at them. I want them constantly having distractions in there face. This way when we get into a game they do not have to worry about being distracted.  Typically this is one of the hardest aspects of playing QB. Some QB’s can feel pressure and others cannot feel pressure. This is one aspect that I try not to over coach if we have a QB who can feel pressure. If the QB is savvy and can get out of the pocket I am going to let the QB be an athlete and make plays. – Brian Pitzer, Anderson HS, (OH)

Drilling Escape Mechanisms

There were a variety of drills that coaches submitted to address this part of the progression.  Here are some that stood out to us:

Over The Cones Drill With Backside MovementDoug Socha, Oxbridge Academy (FL), quarterbackdrills.com, [email protected]

DRILL DESCRIPTION- QB will use back foot movement over the cones with eyes downfield. Coach will give a command of front side, back side, or dip. The QB will than get into sprint out technique and finish with throw.


  • Steady carriage while moving over the cones.
  • QB’s need to initiate all movement with back foot and take small steps.
  • Eyes looking downfield with steady upper body.
  • Listen to command of coach for front side, backside, or dip. Get into sprint out technique (run, yank, and throw) and fall down hill at target.

Escape Drill – Joel Gordon, QB / WR Coach, Shepherd University


This drill is used to train QBs to Escape the pocket in a situation where a “free edge or inside rusher” has taken a flat angle to the QB forcing him to Escape “over the top” of the rusher.

Flush Drill – Joel Gordon, QB / WR Coach, Shepherd University

This drill is used to train QBs to Flush the pocket in a situation where the pocket has collapsed with the edge rushers maintaining effective rush lanes.


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  • Plus access all 50 Drills in our QB mechanics and movements article to prepare your QB's for the coming season.

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Pocket movement is pocket presence and pocket presence equals completions.  Spending some extra time on these techniques in the lead up to the season will undoubtedly pay dividends during game time.  Stay tuned for additional QB footwork and accuracy piece in the near future.



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