Introduction to Defensive line warm up
When it comes to defensive football and the prime directive for that side of the football, it all starts up front, down in the trenches with the hand in the ground. Out of all positions in the game of football, the defensive line is the most technical and physical position to play. The linemen set the tempo and are the foundation of a great defensive team. With defensive line individual, unit, or team practice, there is a level of work that is highly demanded and not negotiated.
The drills from this article were taken from a book, ‘101 Winning Defensive Line Drills’, Written by Michael A. Cieri.
Dynamic Warm-Up and Flexibility
To prepare defensive linemen for movement in a linear direction both forward and backward that allows for increased heart rate, blood flow, muscle temperature, and viscosity of joint fluids, thus allowing for great flexibility and preparing the athlete to move quickly Equipment Needed: None
Line up defensive linemen on a yard line in groups of four. Have the athletes move through each exercise for a distance of 20 yards. The linear dynamic warm-up exercises targets the flexor, hamstring, glutes, and quadriceps muscle groups. The complete warm-up should be performed within 10 minutes.
The Defensive line Warm Up
• Ankle hops/jumping jacks: Athletes jump off the balls of their feet, not allowing their heels to contact the ground.
• Walking forward deep lunge with twist: Athletes keep the kneeling knee an inch off the ground, push their hips forward, and rotate their trunk to either side.
• Walking lunge backward with no trunk rotation: Athletes keep the knee an inch off the ground and maintain balance.
• Frankenstein (hamstring kicks): Athletes keep their legs straight and kick the
target (a hand).
• Walking quad pull: Athletes pull their leg and opposite arm back to effectively
stretch the hip flexors.
• Walking knee hugs: Athletes pull their knee to their chest to stretch the hip extensors (gluteus maximus).
• High knees: Athletes make quick contacts off the ground, not allowing heels to touch.
• Butt kicks: Athletes engage in rapid movement of the feet, allowing the heel of the foot to touch their butt cheek.
• Backpedal: Athletes assume an athletic position, with back flat, looking straight ahead, sitting into position, and staying on the balls of their feet.
• Full sprint: 100 percent effort.
Don’t allow defensive linemen to use extra steps between each repetition in each exercise. This maximizes muscular flexibility and improves mechanics through the neuromuscular system, potentially reducing injury through decreasing reflexive muscle contractions.
Fast Start Push Offs
Line up the athletes on a yard line in groups of four. Have the defensive
linemen push off their front feet to commence each exercise. The coach starts the drill by moving the ball on a stick. The defensive linemen explode off the ball on the visual key (cadence can be included as a distraction), and sprint for 10 yards.
The video below will begin with what this drill should look like.
To develop the defensive lineman’s ability to quickly change directions as he slows down and speeds up through closed agility drills (Closed agility drills are pre-programmed drills done in a predictable and unchanging environment that will improve neuromuscular efficiency.)
Equipment Needed: Agility bags or swim noodles
Arrange five bags or swim noodles one yard apart in a straight line (use sideline markers as a guide). Have the defensive linemen line up at the end of the first bag/swim noodle. Have the athletes commence each drill on the coach’s command, sprinting down the line, performing each drill twice (down the line and back).
The drills are:
• One in the hole and two in the hole (Diagram A): Straight ahead, one foot in the hole or two feet in the hole—have players finish with a burst.
• Lateral shuffle to the right and left (Diagram B): Players stay facing the coach—have players keep eyes up and pads down.
• Up and back (Diagram C): Players stay facing the coach—have players bend and explode forward and backward.
• Bounding, two feet in the hole (Diagram D): Have players jump straight up, hands in the air.
• Shuffle bags (Diagram E): Players shuffle with hands on bags—have players bend, cut block protection.
• Demand perfection by emphasizing maintaining the low pad low (keep the athlete down, with a Z bend in the knees), putting the pedal to the metal to create a level of work that is highly demanding and developing an attitude that the defensive line is “outworking their opponents.”
• Finish each repetition with a five-yard burst run at the end of each drill to build that desire to make plays.