Coaching Linebacker Stance

22 Aug

By Joe2
Football Defense Report
May 30, 2011  

Some coaches are so detail oriented. They can see every little mistake and need everything to be perfect. Others are results guys. They don’t car how the job gets done, as long as the result is good.

Nowhere on the defensive side do these differences become more obvious than linebacker stances. Some teams will have 2 or 3 linebackers standing at exactly 5 yards looking like a picture out of a manual. Others have guys at different levels, different hip height, foot width, and anything else you can think of.

For me, I guess I am a results guy. I don’t care what he looks like pre-snap if he’s making plays. There are only a few guidelines my guys need to follow, and one rule not to be broken.

Coaching the Stance

We start with the feet and work up when teaching stance.

  1. Start with the feet under the armpits and balanced. Squat down with hands on knees like a center fielder would.
  2. Arch the back, pushing the chest out and “showing you numbers”. He chest is big and his head is up. Now drop the hands and let the arms relax.
  3. Roll forward just slightly. We want about 60% of the weight on the front half of the feet. The heels are not off the grass.

But of course, there is always another way:

Get Comfortable

Now that we’ve established a starting point, let your guys get comfortable. As standardized as the initial teaching was, their actual stances will vary greatly.

The width of the feet can get wider, though I don’t like it getting any tighter. Some guys are more comfortable in a wide base. In theory it would be harder for them to move, but if it works, it works!

The hip height can also change, and usually needs to. Hip height in the stance should be at whatever level they play the game at. If the hips are too low in the stance, his first motion on the snap will be raising his hips, instead of getting down hill. If you want the stance to be lower, you will need to address hip flexibility and playing level.

The hands are very negotiable, too. I like them to be relaxed in front. But as a player I had a weird, spirit finger-like thing going on with my hands from a lot of nervous energy. The guideline that I use is have them somewhere you can see them in your peripheral vision.

The Unbreakable Rule

The one rule we cannot break at the linebacker position has little to do with how the stance looks. It is the first step, and specifically gaining ground with that first step. Whatever the stance, eyes and feet make more tackles.

Train your players to never take a false step. False steps cost you a half yard or more, which is a huge difference in the entire course of a game.

To drill this, work reads and keys with a step-over pad behind their heels. If they kick it, they are false stepping!  Get rid of that bad habit and get your kids to the ball quicker.

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