OLB Drill Article – Drills to Develop “Hybrid” Players in the 3-4 and 4-3

May 5, 2012 | Drills, Position Groups, Linebackers


By William Lund



X&O Labs

William Lund, D-Line Columnist, X&O Labs

Editor’s Note: Please welcome William Lund to the X&O Labs team.  Coach Lund is a veteran college football coach with a high level of expertise on coaching defensive line. We are excited to have him on board.  Every month Coach Lund will bring you some of the best insights, drills and strategies on developing your defensive line.  And the best part is, Coach Lund will answer any and all of your questions.  Just post your questions or comments below and Coach Lund will respond shortly.  

Coaches are always trying to find a new edge in defending offensive schemes. Much of the change occurs when a coach decides to use a 3-4 defense to replace a 4-3 defense or a 3-3-5 defense to replace a 4-2-5 structure. Defense is not so much scheme, but players’ understanding and belief in that scheme. Whether a coach choses to be a four-man front or a three-man front, more often than not he will have a "sub" package incorporating one or the other fronts.  If you don’t decide to change personnel, you may have a player that is a "hybrid." A hybrid player is one you need to have on the field as a rusher in pass situations, but also one you want to use in coverage. This hybrid player may be necessary because you cannot afford to pull him off the field no matter what the situation, but still may want to incorporate a 3- or 4-man front. My column this month will discuss the ways you can effectively train your hybrid player to be sound as a coverage man or as a rusher.

For the purpose of this column we will use a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme as our template in developing a plan for our hybrid player.  When training a player, you need to make sure he can handle the multiple details that a player needs to know as both a rush end and drop end.  Pass Rush moves, drop zones and man responsibilities are all parts of being a hybrid player. Because of all the responsibilities that fall within this player’s domain, the tendency of coaches is to take a player that "athletically" looks the part and try to force him into a "hybrid" role. As coaches, we must not try to "force a square peg into a round hole."  In order to be an effective hybrid, the player must be savvy, with the understanding of a larger scheme of things. It is my opinion that the easiest place to train your hybrid begins with aligning him as the defensive end or outside linebacker weak or away from the formation strength (or away from the tight end or passing strength.) From here you can limit the number of assignments and coverage responsibilities he has to know. Remember this is a starting point to build on your player’s knowledge base. (Diagram 1)

Note:  The hybrid player is the "R" in both scenarios

 First Level (DE) Keys and Reads

As a pre-snap, we will key the "V" of the neck of the EMLOS.  In most cases, this will be the OT.  We do an every day drill called "Quick Hands" that emphasizes this technique (diagram 2).  Quick Hands Video: