Running Back Blocking Drills


Football running backs are best known for carrying or running with the football. However, in modern football, running backs have many more responsibilities, including blocking duties. Specific blocking drills can help prepare backs for the wide range of blocking duties they will face.

Lead Drill

The lead drill or lead blocking drill is used to teach running backs to lead block. This action will primarily be performed by a fullback during games, but training all backs is important in case of injury. To perform, you will need two running backs, lined up in an I-formation, with the back in front being the fullback and lead blocker. You will also need a linebacker or a player to simulate a linebacker. Start with the snap and have the fullback accelerate through the hole and take on the linebacker to block him in the direction the play is designed. You should vary the sides of the field and angles to simulate a variety of plays.

Sled Drill

Sled drills are some of the most common blocking drills that are designed to teach the proper form when blocking. Sled drills can be performed alone on one-man sleds or with other players on multiple sleds. For running backs, simulating actual blocking actions on a sled means that backs should take more of a running start before engaging the sled, while linemen stand right next to the device. Backs should start about five yards from the sled, and on the whistle or command, accelerate to the sled and drive the device for at least 10 yards.

Blitz Pickup Drill

The blitz pickup drill is a pass blocking or protection drill that teaches backs who to pick up when a blitz is coming from the defense. You can set up dummies for an offensive line or simply not use one. You will need three defenders or three players to simulate blitzing defenders. These defenders should be instructed by a coach when to blitz on each particular drill repetition. According to Michael H.E. Roth's, backs should pick up the inside blitzers first and always step forward and engage the blitzer as close to the line of scrimmage as possible.

Outside Drill

Running backs are asked to block outside of the tackle box as lead blockers also. In this situation the blocking is often done on the run, forcing backs to hit a target moving at full speed. Plays that run outside include sweeps, options and even swing passes. This drill can be used to teach defensive players pursuit and shedding blocks on the move as well. Start with two running backs with one lined up as a fullback, and one defender who should be lined up as an middle linebacker. Snap the ball and toss it to the deep back and have him run to the outside as the linebacker pursues. The fullback should engage or cut block the linebacker to give the deep back a free path to run.