Movement Drills for the Defensive Line

We talked about working with Linebackers on Transition Drills in a different article here. The truth is, all of your defensive players need to work on Movement & Transition Drills. These are drills that work your players on moving around the field, changing directions and changing footwork as they would do in a typical football play.

There is some basic footwork drill value in traditional bag work, where players run over bags laid on the ground. But these drills are a building block. It is pretty rare that a player just has to shuffle sideways on a play and then it’s over. He probably will have to change direction, defeat a block, etc. That’s where your Transition Drills come in.

We break the skills a Defensive Lineman needs down into a few pieces:

  1. Stance & Get Off: Having a proper start, reacting to ball movement.
  2. Strike: Attacking the blocker and controlling him.
  3. Engage & Escape: This is where most of the block reads come into play. Once we diagnose the play, we’re off to make the tackle.
  4. Redirects, Transition, Pursuit: Once we get off the block, how do we get to the football?
  5. Pass Rush Moves

These are the skills that are specific to Defensive Linemen. We’re not including Tackling and Takeaways here, because they are skills every player needs. When we build drills, however, we may have them performing a Defensive Line skill, then making a tackle.

The focus here is on those Redirects, Transition and Pursuit. We want to teach our Defensive Linemen to move. You may want to start these drills from a stance, or from a fit position (adding in the Escape), or from a variety of other positions. You need to work some form of these drills every day, so get creative with it. Think of anything your guys may have to do, then practice it. I’m giving some examples of Movement & Transition drills here, not a complete list.

Bend – Chase – Shuffle

The first Defensive Line movement drill is a pretty simple transition drill. This is very similar to what we would do with any other defensive position group and could be worked as part of a circuit.


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