Training RBs to Use Their Off-Arm as a Weapon

Jun 24, 2016 | Run Game Mechanics, Running Backs, Position Groups

By Mario Price
Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator
Davidson College (NC)
Twitter: @CoachMarioPrice



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.

Stiff Arm

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.