What’s the best way to win the passing game? Prevent the opposing quarterback from throwing the ball.
As offenses begin to spread the field, pass rushers find themselves doubleteamed less and less; and a good pass rush can transform any defense from lifeless to dominating. Unfortunately, many high school coaches spend too little time teaching proper technique. But with a few simple drills, average defensive linemen can become a force rushing the quarterback.
Getting off the ball is always the most important part of the pass rush. You must explode out of your stance and close the distance between yourself and the offensive lineman so that you can use your pass rush moves effectively.
- Get into a three-point stance with a partner across from you in a two-point stance.
- Shade to the side, so that your right shoulder is aligned with your partner’s right shoulder.
- At the snap, explode forward as your partner backpedals as fast as possible.
- The object is to touch your partner’s shoulder as quickly as you can.
- Stay low as you come out of your stance and maintain a forward lean.
- As you improve, increase the starting distance between you and your partner.
- Learn to turn the corner efficiently by using large hula hoops.
- Get into your stance with the edge of a hoop a yard away from you.
- On the snap, explode out of your stance and run around the hoop using short choppy steps.
- Stay as close to the hoop as you can.
- Lean to the inside throughout the drill.
- To increase the level of difficulty, use two hoops and run a figure 8 pattern.
- Emphasize your lean by placing a partner inside the hoop to simulate a blocker. As your partner tries to force you away from the hoop, you must lean into your turns more in order to stay close to the hoop.
- Once you have finished rounding the hoop, explode into a sprint to develop your burst to the quarterback.
Pop-up tackling dummies are useful tools for improving your pass rush. Most rush moves begin with a powerful swat to the blocker’s shoulder. Perfect this technique by setting up several dummies no more than a yard apart.
- Swat the first dummy as explosively as possible, turning your hips like a boxer throwing a hook.
- Square your shoulder up as you move past that dummy and swat the next with your opposite hand, repeating the technique.
- Each time you swat, focus on turning your hips into the movement so that you generate maximum force.
One-on-One Pass Rush
Live reps are the best way to develop your moves. Use all of the tools you have developed to get to the quarterback.
- Five rushers line up across from five offensive linemen, with a coach behind each group.
- The offensive coach, behind his blockers, chooses which defender will rush, while the other four explode out of their stance for two steps to practice their get-off.
- The defensive coach gives the offensive linemen the snap count.
- On the snap, you have four seconds to reach the quarterback. When the whistle blows to end the drill, sprint back across the line of scrimmage, simulating the pursuit of a thrown pass.
Become a better pass rusher with these techniques from All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen: