Running backs in most offenses, regardless of the scheme, must truly be the “X” factor because they are an integral part of every segment of the offensive attack. There is much skill development that goes into grooming a “complete” back due to the multiple skill requirements with the position. It is vital that pre-practice, post-practice, and individual time are utilized efficiently to develop these skills. Find out how here...
By Mario Price
Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator
Davidson College (NC)
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Running backs in most offenses, regardless of the scheme, must truly be the “X” factor because they are an integral part of every segment of the offensive attack. A complete back must be able to function at a high level in multiple areas:
- Zone Scheme Run Game
- Gap Scheme Run Game
- Perimeter Run Game
- Pass Protections
- Receiver In The Pass Game
- Special Plays (Screens, Reverses, etc.)
- Special Teams Contributor
There is much skill development that goes into grooming a “complete” back due to the multiple skill requirements with the position. It is vital that pre-practice, post-practice, and individual time are utilized efficiently to develop these skills.
As you organize and plan drills for your running back group it is important that you keep a few things in mind:
- DO NOT practice drills that do not directly correlate to what the back will be asked to do on the field, even if it is a really good drill.
- Frequency of the drills should correspond directly to their relevance in the offense.
- Drills should be designed in a format that will enable your RBs to work several fundamentals during the course of a drill.
- Commands for all drills should correspond with the offensive cadence and should be stopped by the whistle.
- If a player is injured during drill, then it may not be a good drill.
As we train our backs to be consistently productive and have the ability to create explosive plays for the offense, one important skill set that is important to develop is “Yards After Contact” (YAC). Today’s athletes are bigger, strong, and faster than ever and many backs are able to naturally create YAC with their physical toughness, but the ability to use the off-arm as a weapon (stiff arm, ripping, etc.) is becoming a lost art.
A great stiff arm can ward off a defender and limit a defensive player’s ability to wrap up the back for an effective tackle allowing for more yards after contact.
Technique: Extend the arm into a slightly bent, rigid position (don’t lock arm, to eliminate hyperextension). Aiming at the defenders helmet, shoulder pad, or extended arms.
Timing: The stiff arm must be well-timed. If it is too early, the defender can grab your arm or avoid it, so it becomes an easier engage. If it is too late, the defender will already be engaged with you.
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- Coaching Points and video of Coach Price’s Big Ball Stiff Arm Drill.
- Coaching Points and video of Coach Price’s Heisman Drill.
- Coaching Points and video of Coach Price’s Sideline Stiff Arm Drill.
- Coaching Points and video of Coach Price’s Stacked Bag Drill.
- Coaching Points and video of Coach Price’s Jump Stop Arch Drill.
- Coaching Points and video of Coach Price’s Sideline Rip Drill.
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These drills just scrape the surface of producing a physical runner that is capable of creating yards after contact and more explosion plays. Hopefully they will help you coach your guys this coming season.
Meet Coach Mario Price: Mario Price is entering his first season as the running backs coach and special teams coordinator at Davidson College. After a graduate assistantship in 2012, Price was promoted to inside wide receivers coach for two seasons before earning his most recent title, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at ULM in 2015. During his time with the Warhawks, Price coached five All-Sun Belt honorees at the wide receiver position, including two-time All-Sun Belt selection Rashon Ceaser. Prior to arriving in Monroe, Price served as the wide receivers coach and video coordinator at Millsaps College during the spring of 2012. Price began his collegiate coaching career at Texas A&M-Commerce in 2010 and spent two seasons as the wide receivers coach, while developing two All-Lone Star Conference receivers. Prior to coaching at the collegiate level, Price spent three seasons as an assistant at Waco High School in Waco, Texas, working with running backs and quarterbacks. After transferring from Army following his freshman season, Price was a three-year letterwinner at Baylor where he graduated in 2006 with a B.S. in Health and Human Performance. Price earned a M.S. in Health and Human Performance at Texas A&M-Commerce in 2011. Price is married to the former Alexandra Thompson.