Exercises for Linebackers
Linebackers have a demanding role on the football field. They are responsible for stopping the run, covering the pass and rushing the passer. The best linebackers must be agile, strong and quick enough to read and react to a play. A combination of speed, strength and agility training are key factors in the development of an effective linebacker.
Total body strength is a requirement for a linebacker. A strength training program should include exercises for the lower body, such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, step-ups and leg presses. For the upper body, overhead presses, bench presses, pullups, pull-downs, dips, rows and abdominal curls should all be included. In addition to traditional strength training, a linebacker should focus on building strength in the legs for lateral or angled moves. Lateral lunges -- stepping out to the side -- and angled lunges -- stepping out to a 45-degree angle -- will help prepare the body for these types of movements during a game.
Linebackers need to be fast and powerful during every play. Adding plyometric exercises such as lunge jumps, box jumps and squat jumps will help to develop explosive power. The motion required to do a tire flip closely mimics the movement pattern of the linebacker, so they should also be incorporated.
Speed and Agility
Working on improving a 40-yard dash time is only one part of developing overall speed for the game of football. A linebacker must be agile in all directions because offensive plays will rarely require you to run straight ahead. A player must be able to effectively stop, start and change the direction of the body rapidly. Agility drills should be incorporated to develop quick feet for any situation. There are numerous options for agility drills. Placing markers out in a variety of shapes and having the player move forward, backward, diagonally or laterally to touch the markers will help the linebacker develop speed in all directions. One easy example of an agility drill is to set four cones up in a square shape, approximately 10 feet apart. he player starts in one corner and runs forward to the second cone. After touching cone two, the player shuffles laterally to the third cone and touches it. He then backpedals to cone number four and touches it. He finishes the box by shuffling laterally back to the first cone. This is known as the Four Corner drill. Training for agility will help the linebacker become more efficient at accelerating and decelerating in different directions on the field.
A football game is four quarters long, and a linebacker needs to be able to be as strong and effective at the end of the game as at the start. Incorporating at least one longer cardiovascular workout per week will help the athlete to develop endurance for the whole game. Running, cycling and swimming are all examples of cardiovascular activities that will develop endurance. Cycling and swimming have the added bonus of being nonimpact, which will allow tired muscles to recover from the other aspects of the linebacker workout program.
Developing a Strong Linebacker
When designing a workout program for a linebacker, it is important to incorporate all types of training to develop all of necessary components. Be sure to incorporate proper nutrition and adequate rest to reduce the risk of injury. Always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.
- Strength Training For Young Athletes: William J. Kraemer, et al.
- Elitefts: Six Lateral Strength Exercises for Crazy Football Speed
- Full Throttle Online: Add Strength, Explosive Power and Competition to Your Offseason
- 101 Agility Drills; Patrick McHenry, et al.
Wendy Fryer holds a Master of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has more than 15 years of experience managing health clubs and working with clients.