The running back drills found here are based in proven football fundamentals.
If you're a coach trying to develop the next young Walter Payton or a player trying to emulate Emmitt Smith, these running back football drills give you a sound foundation to begin with.
Coaches - Turnovers absolutely cripple a team. Be sure to work on ball security with your ball handlers. Teach your running backs to place the ball securely in the fingers with the index and middle fingers gripped around the nose.
Squeeze the football into the body with the elbow and arm. When in the open field, the back can allow the ball to move slightly away from the body, but squeeze it right back in traffic. On contact, the ball should be covered with both hands to ward off the defense's attempts to pry it away.
Running Back Drills For Football "Ball Handling Drills"
Running Back Drill #1 Handoff Drill
Objective - Teach correct way to receive handoff, then squeeze ball away properly.
Action - For this running back football drill, separate running backs into two lines, facing one another about 10 yards apart. Place the ball at the front of one of the lines. The player with the ball hands off to the running back in the opposite line. As one back takes the football, he hands off to the next runner. Have backs change lines so they practice receiving handoffs from both sides.
Coaching Details - Be sure each player has the inside arm up, elbow out of the way and locks the ball with the bottom arm. Slowly increase tempo of this running back drill until it reaches game speed.
Running Back Drill #2 Bag Drill
Objective - Teach running backs to take handoff, break through immediate contact and hold onto the football.
Action - For this running back drill, align two dummy bags next to each other about 2-3 yards from the running back. Have the quarterback or coach handoff. As the back receives the ball, have them explode through the bags and a bit upfield. Practice with running back taking handoff from the left and right sides. Have dummy holders take turns hitting the backs. You can also place a linebacker after the bags to force the ball carriers to make open field moves.
Coaching Details - Be sure your running backs keep a low center of gravity, shoulders down, knees up. Make sure they practice good ball protection as they move through the running back football drill.
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Objective - Teach backs to protect the ball as well as stay upright on contact.
Action - Position two lines of dummy holders (about 5-6 men in each line) with a small path in between. Have the running backs take handoff and then sprint into the path between the bags. The bag holders should hit the back as he moves by and try to knock him down or fumble the football. As a variation, have the ball carriers hold a ball in each arm during this running back football drill.
Coaching Details - Be sure your running backs keep a low center of gravity, shoulders down, knees up. With the 2-ball variation, your running backs will have to concentrate even more on protection of the football as they squeeze both into the body.
Running Back Drill #4 Strip Drill
Same running back drill as #3 except you have the men in line strip the ball from the runners rather than hit them with the bags.
Running Back Drill #5 Two-Line Bag Drill
Objective - Teach proper hand-off fundamentals.
Action - Using six blocking bags, position them into two rows of three bags each. Be sure the bags are one yard apart and that the two lines are about five yards apart. Create two groups each consisting of a few running backs and one quarterback. Each group should be lined up single file behind the first blocking bag.
Begin this running back football drill on the coach's signal. At the whistle, each QB will handoff to the first running back in his line as the backs cradle the football properly and run through the three blocking dummies. After the backs break through the third bag in their line, the coach will signal a direction for the backs to cut to. Have the running backs change lines after each rep.
Coaching Details - Make sure each back sets up in a correct stance and then uses proper technique when receiving the hand-off. As they run through the bags, be sure they lift their knees and hold onto the football securely. The cut at the end of the running back football drill should be sharp and quick.
Running Back Drill #6 Football Pitch Drill
Objective - Teach the fundamentals of receiving the pitch.
Action - Align a group of running backs at the sideline on a yard line with another line of running backs lined up at the next yard line so the two lines are 5 yards apart.
Give the ball to the first back in the first line and have him jog in place while the first back in the next line starts running down the yard line to receive the football pitch. The back with the football steps out and throws the pitch. When the 2nd running back receives the pitch, he jogs in place as the 1st back runs past and receives the next football pitch.
Continue the running back drill until they reach the other side of the field and then have them repeat it as they come back to the starting position.
Coaching Details - Have your backs practice catching the football pitch with both hands as they perform this running back drill for football. Also, be sure they look the ball all the way in and secure it properly before they look back upfield.
Running Back Drill #7 Bad Pitch Drill
Objective - Teach the fundamentals of receiving a bad pitch.
Action - Run this just like the regular pitch running back football drill (Drill #5). Have the player with the ball deliver the football pitch in front of or behind the ball carrier.
Coaching Details - Be sure your running backs pay close attention to securing the football before worrying about running with it.
Running Back Drill #8 Square Cut Drill
Objective - Teach the 90 degree cut.
Action - For this running back drill, position 4 cones in a square with about 5 yards of space between each. Start by having the running backs go about half speed around the cones, making a hard, 90 degree cut as they "corner" each cone. When they have this down, push it up to regular speed.
Coaching Details - When the drill gets to full speed, emphasize staying low, staying under control and getting a good push-off with the outside foot. Run the drill both ways so the backs get practice pushing off both the left and right feet.
Running Back Drill #9 Trip Drill
Objective - Developing the skill of staying balanced as defenders try to cut out the legs of the running back.
Action - For this running back drill, have defenders try to trip up the backs by swinging bags at their feet.
Running Back Drill #10 High Knee Drill
Objective - Teach backs to keep their knees up high while running.
Action - Lay 4-5 dummy bags down in succession on the field so there is enough space for the backs to high-step over them. Line up your backs in single file and have them each run over the bags in succession, keeping their knees high.
Coaching Details - Don't allow them to lose focus on proper ball handling during this running back drill and be sure they keep their eyes looking up and ahead. Emphasize explosive high knee action.
Running Back Drill #11 Stumble Drill
Objective - Teach ball carriers how to keep their balance while falling as well as keeping the ball secured.
Action - Give each back a ball and have them position themselves at the 25 yard line. At the whistle, instruct them to start running. Every 5 yards, the running backs should place their palm to the ground as if stumbling. As they get up and regain balance, they should switch the ball to the other arm. This happens every 5 yards until they reach the goal line, then repeat the running back drill back to the 25.
Coaching Details - Make sure each running back switches the ball to the opposite arm after each stumble. Teach proper technique for regaining balance: bring the head up, the chest out and drive the knees forward for power.