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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Flexbone-Coaching the Running Backs and Receivers

Running Backs

The running backs in the flexbone offense are quite unique in that the slot backs are part running back
and part wide receiver, while the B back would probably be the one back in a spread offense or the
tailback in a pro style of offense. This mix of ability allows the flexbone coach to distribute the players in
a unique manner when coaching the backfield of the flexbone offense.

When looking for B backs, the top item to look for is a good runner. Would this guy be a tailback in a
pro style offense? Can this player carry the ball 20 to 25, even 30 times a game? Durability and
toughness are other attributes B backs must have, as these players are going to get hit constantly in this
offense. A B back that’s a good outside runner makes the offense that much better.

Slot backs are quite a unique breed of athlete. They are part wide receiver, part tight end or H-back,
and part running back. To be quite honest, these are guys that aren’t B backs or quarterbacks or wide
receivers. They are basically the leftovers. A lot of coaches want really fast good slot backs that can
stretch the defense, horizontally and vertically, however this is by far, not necessary. The top ability a
coach should look for in a good slot back is the ability and willingness to block in space. The slot has one
of the toughest jobs in the offense, especially if being run in states or leagues that do not allow the use
of below the waist blocking, commonly referred to as cut blocking. The slot must be able to have good
feet and quickness to block defensive backs, while having the strength and durability to block
linebackers on occasion. The blocks being asked of the slot are not devastating or long-lived, however
they do need to be effective. Small B backs or wide receivers, or even undersized tight ends make good
slot backs. If the slot can run and catch, that’s an even bigger plus for the offense, but it should not be
the priority when selecting players to play the slot back position. Slots do need to be able to run a

Again. The feet are shoulder width or narrower. In this segment of exploding out of their stances. Figure 11-1 (B back stance) On all inside run plays the B back should use the same steps as an offensive lineman making a block. while the weight is completely forward on the down hand or hands. Once this technique is mastered the start can be perfected. The entire time the B back is coming out the stance. The first step is a short. The stance of the B back is the exact same of that of a track sprinter. . with the eyes forward and the neck bulled so that the B back can see from right tackle to left tackle. runner second and receiver third. or the gauntlet as shown in figure 11- 3. blocker first. The coach. the pads should only slightly elevate. The B backs can all align in front of the coach and work on getting in the proper stances. the coach can do the stance and start drill similar to that of the offensive linemen. depending on individual comfort. The B back may utilize a three or four point stance. A good way to keep the B backs low is to utilize the chutes. regardless of whether the B back is running the ball or blocking. as shown in Figure 11-1. The second step should be a step that gains ground. and the shoulders should not elevate at all. with the buttocks slightly above the head. Coaching the B Back The B back has a variety of individual drills that they can do throughout a practice. Stance and start are very key to the performance of the B back. Both of these equipment items will go a long way in keeping the B backs low out of their stances. as shown in figure 11-2. The idea here is that the slot should be an unselfish. six-inch power step. To drill the stance and start of the B back. first step should be a six-inch power step in the direction of the play. The head should be up. The eyes should go to the aiming point in an attempt to read the defense.variety of routes. and having the ability to catch a football is also very important. The back should be flat. the back should remain flat. should have the players take the proper steps with both the right and the left foot.

This drill gives the B back a feel for when the ball is being given to them. and also facilitates in a young quarterback who may be having trouble reading a particular defender.Figure 11-2 (Chutes) Figure 11-3 (Gauntlet) As with any running back in any offense. however early on in the teaching process of the offense. the running backs coach can play the role of quarterback. The mesh drill is really a drill for both the quarterback and the B back. simple agility drills are extremely important. inside veer and outside veer. This simple rule keeps the B back and quarterback from having any exchange problems. The B back has a very simple rule on all option run plays that they are involved in. In the mesh drill without the quarterback. and the first of those drills is the mesh drill. The drills. The coach. . This is a very important skill to master in the flexbone offense because a large majority of the plays within the offense are option oriented. or quarterback will take their proper steps and utilize the proper footwork and ball handling techniques in this drill. If the ball is there when they get to it. These drills will not be discussed at length in this text because they can be found in any good coaching manual on coaching running backs. however that are specific to the B back’s development within the flexbone offense will be discussed. they simply take it. or pulled on a keep read. the coach can simply have the B backs line up in their normal alignment behind the quarterback and take their normal steps for the various option runs such as midline.

The V is two. Another item that certainly will help is a fire hose with all the positions and gaps named on it. but are extremely useful teaching tool that will make the coach’s job that much easier. catch. These job requirements require a unique type of athlete as . two-by-six pieces of lumber bolted together (as shown in figure 11-4) that can be widened or narrowed to represent the path that the B back should take. These athletes are probably the most versatile athlete on the field. such as the one shown in figure 11-5. Another item that can be added to the mesh drill is the V. and block in space as well as block defenders inside the box. Slots need to be able to run. These items are not needed. Figure 11-4 ("V" drill) Figure 11-5 (Firehose) Coaching the Slot Backs The slot backs are to the flexbone what the tight end is to the pro style offense.

that when they rock forward they can just touch the buttocks of the offensive tackle. Once the first step is in the ground and the weight . where there is a no motion call. then the slot should be able to tighten their alignment more than normal. As with any position in any sport. this will cause them to false step. with little to no weight on them. and shoulders rotate around so the slot can see their aiming point. must learn to use the proper footwork and have a good stance when executing the plays they are associated with in the flexbone offense. the slot. the running back drills for the slot backs will be discussed. the slot should align. call. if asked to run a vertical route. The aiming point is the heels of the B back. opening the inside foot to where the toe is pointing to the aiming point. For this section.well as a unique method of coaching. The elbows should rest on the thigh pads. upon hearing the s in the word set should push off the outside foot. means the slot will take two steps toward their aiming point before the ball is snapped. Since most motions are not called. the slot must learn when and how to properly execute these motions. The inside arm should rip open. Motion is a key component to the job a slot back must do. The stance. in a manner similar to a pulling lineman. or Nomo. For instance. The chin should be over the toes and there should be some slight forward body lean. as shown in figure 11-7. The cadence is a rhythmic cadence which allows for the slot to leave at a certain part of the cadence. Slots. which as the name implies. is a bit different than that of a typical running back. The feet are narrower than shoulder width to no wider than shoulder width. with their inside foot on the outside foot of the offensive tackle. with the inside foot in toe to heel relationship (see figure 11-6). with an overhanging defensive end or outside linebacker the slot should have the freedom to widen their alignment so they may get into the route quicker and with less interruption from the defensive player. If the slot is called on to be the pitch back on a option play. Figure 11-6 (Slotback stance) The alignment of the slot varies with the assignment being asked. The slot should be close enough. The slots should have the flexibility to align based on their ability to get the task at hand performed. This flexibility based on ability is what makes the slot back position that more effective. The first motion. which was discussed in Chapter three. As a base rule. is the two-step motion. so that the head. stance and start is a key element of properly training any athlete. If the slot gets lazy and puts weight on the thighs. It is recommended that the slots have training both with the running backs as well as with the receivers. On two step motion.

however the position the slot should be in has changed from being two steps to that of being behind the B back when the ball is snapped. Figure 11-8 (Tail motion) . The slot uses the same mechanics as two step motion. Figure 11-7 (2-Step Motion Aiming Point) Tail motion is a deeper motion. the slot should gain ground with the second step in an attempt to get to full speed by the time the slot reaches the aiming point. however they continue to accelerate toward the aiming point. Once at the aiming point.is transferred. with the shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage (as shown in figure 11-8). the slot should run flat. all the while gaining speed. The slot should now leave on the r in the word ready of the cadence. that still has the same aiming point as two step.

A good drill that will teach both motions and the skill to catch the pitch is to set up the fire hose (please note that the fire hose must contain accurate landmarks on it to represent the offensive linemen) with the proper landmarks such as the B back's heels marked with a dot or cone (see figure 11-10). as shown in figure 11-9. then returning in the direction of the motion to execute a blocking assignment or to run a pass route. but yet be going at enough speed to fool the defense. Various plays within the offense can be called and have the slot execute their motion assignment and then work on receiving the pitch from the quarterback or coach. In twirl motion. and look the football in until the ball is secured. As with any catching skill. Twirl motion is a called motion. When the ball is snapped. that involves the play side slot going in motion. The coach should strive to make sure that the timing is consistent for the motion with all the slots. or the quarterbacks can be added to work on their timing and footwork as well. This one skill can make or break the power of the flexbone offense. the slot should not be attempting to gain speed. The eyes must see the football. Once the motions have been drilled and installed. then the slot must learn to catch the pitch. the slot should leave on the e sound in the work ready. Figure 11-9 (Twirl motion) There are other called motions. Any error in timing can throw off the timing of the entire play in the flexbone offense. as having slots that cannot catch the pitch can lead to turnovers. the slot should plant off of the deepest foot. and then turn back to the inside. As the slot opens toward the same aiming point as both tail and two step motions. which in turn. the key is the receiver's eyes. as the slot heads off to wherever the particular assignment has them going. . but these are standard motions that do not involve the timing that twirl. The coach can act as the quarterback for this drill. two step and tail motions involve. generally lead to losses.

however there is nothing wrong with being prepared for when something goes bad. clean pitches. This point must be drilled because if not. no matter what. do not attempt to pick up the football. getting back possession of the football. the coach will actually execute a bad pitch. when running this offense you are going to see a bad pitch. this will only lead to turnovers. that you can use to mix up the monotony of everyday practice with the slots is to do the bad pitch drill. The backs need to be concerned with one thing and one thing only. but instead of good.Figure 11-10 (Landmark drill) Another drill. The bad pitch drill is similar to the landmark drill. you would love to see bad pitches kept to a minimum. Both the Bad Pitch drill and the Landmark drill work on motions as well as other ball carrying skills the slots will need in the flexbone offense. the key coaching point is to be sure the backs understand. It is inevitable. Coaching the Wide Receivers . Of course. In this drill.

the stalk. this mantra must be discarded. so don't count out a guy. the push-crack and the crack. will have to execute three basic blocks. the slots and receivers can be coached together. must be able to block. the more you can do within the offense without having to substitute. Stance and Start As with any position. There is no intent here to "reinvent the wheel". it is imperative that the coach teach his skill position players proper open field blocking techniques. The Basics of Wide Receiver. There have been countless articles written for both books and the Internet on coaching wide receivers. The more versatile the wide receiver. It's quite ok if the receivers you select might play tight end or H-back in other styles of offense. but this is a skill that can be worked on through drills. basic techniques to your receivers. The wide receiver. look for larger players here. Obviously you are looking for players who can catch the football. are often the forgotten foot soldiers of the offense. and must be able to block in space. . don't underestimate teaching proper. In this regard. choose larger players to play this position. In states where blocking below the waist is not allowed. The main key for the selection of your receivers needs to be the willingness to block first. To be successful. stance and start can be an everyday drill (EDD). For the wide receiver.When selecting wide receivers. but if you can. however. Flexbone receivers. as the wide receivers make the flexbone offense work. just as much as any other position on the field. the stance and start are critical. just because he can't catch. in football. The wide receivers in the flexbone offense. because this is a skill that will be utilized by both positions. Not all receivers are created alike.

On this first step. as shown in Figure 11-11. now having 50 percent of the receiver's weight on the old front leg. so that the receiver will be at the proper depth. should be an elongated. This step. In the drill. the coach can adjust any stances as he sees fit. It will be easy to see who has taken too large of a step or too short of a step.The stance of a receiver. the coach should get the receivers to all take their first step. add in the start. To further this drill. working both feet. then they will put their inside foot up. two-point stance. The first thing the coach should drill is the receiver's first step. and off of the football. and 50 percent on what was the old back leg (old meaning prior to the snap). The receivers should look to the coach and get aligned in their stances. It is preferred that the receivers. don't have . is the receiver's power step. The foot stagger. whereas if aligned inside. to a more balanced stance. Upon inspection. with all of the receiver's weight on his front foot. if aligned as the end man on the line of scrimmage (EMOL). if the DB was in a press alignment. This step allows the receiver to come to balance and be able to take on a defensive back (DB). the weight should transfer from the front leg. A basic drill when teaching stance and start is to align the receivers along a line with a coach placed in the middle of the group of receivers. which should be no longer than six to eight inches in length. the receiver will align with his outside foot up. The back foot is resting on the ball of the foot and has very little weight on it. The chin of the receiver needs to be over the front toe t slightly ahead of the front toe. when running his routes. helps to time up route running in the passing game. As the receivers progress. Correct accordingly and repeat this drill.

receivers some times have difficulty hearing the snap count. the coach is eliminating the chances of a false start. The coach can utilize a ball on a stick much like that of a defensive line coach (as shown in Figure 11-12). Figure 11-11 (Stance/Start drill) Figure 11-12 (Stance/Start ball) . Due to their proximity away from the football.them go on a snap count. or they can simply move their foot or arm to simulate the movement of the snap. the need for the receivers to know the snap count becomes a moot point. By doing teaching the receivers to look for movement. By utilizing movement on motion. but have them go on the coach's movement.

One player is the blocker.The stance and start drill is a great EDD that can be worked to reinforce weight transfer. The feet are where most receivers lose blocks. The feet should also stay at least shoulder width apart through the duration of the drill. the receiver. This space. A great drill to start off with. feet shoulder width or slightly wider. Blocking for a receiver isn't much different than that of an offensive lineman. This increase in travel is due to the space in which the receivers must operate. proper route running and blocking technique. which are the most critical part of the receiver when stalk blocking. Receivers typically have to travel greater distances to get to their assignment than do their larger counterparts on the offensive line. On command the receiver should start to foot fire (rapidly chopping the feet in place. or what some coaches refer to as shimmying). All that is needed is four cones and two players. The idea in mirror drill is simply to work the feet. as mentioned above. however. Blocking leverage is critical in creating running lanes for the ball carrier. must place his hands behind his back. with the head and chin tucked back. that teaches great body position. if you cannot cut where you play. The coach should let this foot fire segment last a second or two before giving the second command. the other player is the defender. Once stance and start have been mastered. he must move his feet to maintain this leverage. . result in the loss of leverage on the defender. The mirror drill is easily set up. proper stance. then the coach can progress on to blocking. it is how the receiver gets to his block that is drastically different than that of the offensive line. The feet must always be in motion. and take a stance much like an offensive lineman would in pass protection. If you are reading this. or get holding penalties thrown on them. The receiver should never quit buzzing his feet during the drill. It is recommended that this drill be utilized at least once a week during the regular season to keep the receivers sharp in their fundamentals. Teaching the Stalk Block Some coaches might see writing about this skill as a forgone conclusion. Failure to move the feet or keep the feet properly spaced. you had better invest in the teaching of open field blocking. and being able to block in it. On the second command the defender will attempt to move side to side to gain leverage on the blocker. will separate average receivers from good ones. do not gloss over this section. but this is not the case. In this drill. The receiver wants his butt down. as shown in Figure 11-13. eye discipline and footwork for blocking in the open field is coined mirror drill. The idea behind this drill is that once the blocker gets his leverage.

The rabbit can move around within the box. This drill is good for any offensive or defensive position as it teaches blocking in space as well as escaping from blocks. or runner. The third player is the blocker. The blocker should use the mirror drill technique to stay in front of and keep leverage on the defender. On command the defender will work to get around the blocker. The defender's aim is simply to tag or touch the rabbit. The drill is set up. or person who must not come in contact with the second player. The rabbit is the ball carrier. One is coined the rabbit.Figure 11-13 (Mirror drill) As this drill progresses you can really ramp up the intensity with a drill named Escape from Bagdhad. This drill gets quite competitive and the players have a lot of fun with it. the defender. The blocker must keep the defender away from the rabbit. coaching points can be made and new players rotated in. while the rabbit works to keep the blocker between himself and the defender. . In this set of cones will be three players. but if he leaves the box at any time. as shown in Figure 11-14 with a five yard by five yard box of cones. The drill is usually done for a four or five count at which time. it is counted in favor of the defender.

This drill can be done with only the receivers. Positioning the hands should be no different than that of the stalk block. and will hurt you if you choose not to drill it. or larger than the receiver.  What to do if the defender gives you his back. as the only difference is the angle of attack.Figure 11-14 (Escape from Bagdhad) Teaching the Push Crack and Crack Blocks These blocks are very similar in nature. some of the finer coaching points of the crack block are:  Head position.  Hands. the receiver must now . feet come into play. I've been around do not drill this technique. A simple drill that works this technique is obviously called crack drill. When this happens. Many coaches. Again. This is truly important. even on the crack block. especially if the defender is much more athletic. or can be coupled in a group drill with the slots to mimic the offense blocking the perimeter of a defensive scheme. This is a must. The receiver must have his head in front of the defender at all times when crack blocking. It is not enough for the receiver to make contact. Once the ball is snapped the receiver should lock on to this defender and work to keep his eyes on the near number of the defender. Pre-snap don't give away the intentions of the offensive scheme. However you choose to do it. but the receiver must locate his defender.  Eyes.  Feet.

The upfield arm is very important in making sure that the defender does not slide off the block and be able to get back into the play. Depending on the location of the defender being blocked. the receiver should look to strike the defender with the head in front of. of the block. become exactly like a basketball player setting a screen. If the safety is in a backpedal. Once the safety stops the backpedal and transitions forward. The upfield hand should look to pin the near arm of the defender. As the receiver does this. and out of contact. The push crack is executed by the receiver by releasing vertically off the LOS as if to run either a vertical route or stalk block. . there is very little to no vertical stem by the receiver. while getting his eyes on the near number of the defender. while the inside hand looks to make contact with the far breastplate of the defender. the receiver should get in the way. as illustrated in Figure 11-16. Figure 11-15 (Push crack block) When executing the crack block. in order to get the shoulders turned down the LOS. but not get called for clipping. The receiver should push off the back foot. the receiver will then break on an angle to intercept the the safety and block him with the correct technique as shown in Figure 11-15. the receiver may actually have to step flat down the LOS to block this defender. As the receiver approaches the defender. they will eye the near safety. then the receiver will continue to push vertically down the field. Basically put.

Make the receiver call out what number is "up" when they catch the football. A good tool for receivers with catching the football is to throw tennis balls early on. backstop or wall. Some other drills are utilizing the two-man sled for blocking drills that work on foot drive. the idea is to assure that the coach is working on the necessary skills the receiver needs to have to perform their task within the offense. the one-handed fade drill that also works on receiver concentration. when not working on run plays that involve them as a runner may work with the receivers. A good tip for this drill is to do it near a fence. . This drill requires the receiver to get their head around and find the football. if not all. rather than allowing his body to come in contact with the ball. If these items aren't available. This division of practice time will be discussed in a later post. By doing so you require that the receiver use his fingers and hands. Couple this with the concentration drill of having the receiver start out with his back to the coach and on command turn around to catch a football.Figure 11-16 (Crack block) There are many other receiver drills out there that coaches can use. By doing this you minimize the amount of time you have spent chasing footballs. Slots. but it should be noted the slots will need to be drilled in most. Another concentration technique is to use paint to paint the numbers one through four and five through eight on the points of footballs. and the routes in traffic drill are ones that come to mind. then have the other receivers work as fielders for any missed balls. of the receiver drills mentioned here. No matter the drill.

In any drill that involves the carrying of the football. Duece Posted by Duece at 10:22 PM . There are several tools on the market today that do this. it should be. make ball security a priority in your EDD's. coaches need to stress the little things such as "high and tight" and wrist above the elbow. Ball security is something many coaches take way too lightly. Whatever skill position you coach. Don't just talk about these things. and three points of pressure to ball carriers. and so many ball security drills out there it would take weeks.It is imperative that throughout all of these drills that anywhere ball security can be drilled. drill them. or even months to write about all of them.