This report will cover the drills you can incorporate in practice on a daily basis to improve the offensive line’s ability to successfully do their job.
By Matthew Keith
Offensive Line Coach/Strength & Conditioning Coordinator
College of St. Scholastica (MN)
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Several components go into becoming an elite offensive line. It requires the knowledge and understanding of the game, great technique, the ability to recognize and react, and a gritty mentality. Obviously, when it comes to pass protection the offensive line's job is to give the quarterback as much time as possible, so he can make the correct read and throw.
This report will cover the drills you can incorporate in practice on a daily basis to improve the offensive line's ability to successfully do their job. The drills below are set up as a progression, working on separate parts of pass progression technique and building on top of each other.
This drill is designed to work on creating separation and snapping the upper body back out of a stance. Out of a three-point stance, have a bag close to touching the head of the player that is up. On the go signal, the player will get a big chest while punching the bag and creating separation without moving their feet. The will feel their weight transition from the front to foot to the back foot. We work both right handed and left-handed stances with all our guys and go two to three reps before rotating.
Once this drill is introduced it can be a high tempo drill and a good warm-up that allows for each player to get a lot of reps in a short amount of time.
- Feet should stay in the ground as much as possible.
- Punch with palm of the hands, thumbs pointing up.
- Punch at a slightly upward angle
- If the punch angle is down, there's most likely too much forward lean. If the angle is up too far, it is most likely due to too much bend in the knees. This is not in a good position to be able to move.
- Back should be straight with a slight arc back and weight balanced with all cleats in the ground.
- Bag should be closer to guys with shorter arms (adjust position accordingly).
The purpose of the Mirror-Dodge drill is to get the feet moving while also working on good pass setting demeanor. Each player that is up will put a post foot on a line and try to keep that post foot there for the duration of the drill. We will work both feet as post feet as we rotate through. This helps players be more comfortable setting both ways. We also start with the players hands behind their back, emphasizing a big chest. The defensive player should move, changing directions, forcing the offensive player to mirror that movement with quick feet, staying in front of the defender.
A punch component can be added easily to this drill, working on timing of the punch as well.
- Quick, short steps
- No hopping, keep feet in the ground as much as possible
- Stay square to the line
- Big chest, slight arc in the back
- Work on being able to react quickly to change of direction, don’t get caught off balance
- Should stay in a good demeanor the whole time
- Upper body should have minimal movement
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- Coaching points and film of the Tire Punch Drill.
- Coaching points and film of the Pass Umbrella Drill.
- Coaching points and film of the Pass Wave Drill.
- Coaching points and film of the 5-Second Fight Drill.
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Repetition is important. Drilling technique to the point where the players don't have to think about it and it becomes a habit can be the difference between winning a block and giving up a sack. The drills discussed can create a progression and be used to help new linemen learn technique and mentality. For inexperienced offensive linemen, these drills can be simplified so that they are can work on very specific aspects of pass pro. For the more experienced players, these drills can be built up and be more comprehensive, working on different aspects at the same time. These drills can also be adjusted depending on what techniques you’d like to use for your linemen.
Meet Coach Keith: Matt Keith is completed his first year as the offensive line coach at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. In 2016, Keith's line allowed 20 less sacks from the previous season. Prior to that, Keith served as the offensive line coach at Beloit College in Beloit, WI in 2015. Keith graduated from the University of Mount Union where he played offensive line for four seasons. During his time at Mt. Union, the team won four conference championships and one national championship.