The Oklahoma Drill is no more—at least at the NFL level.
The ban comes after league officials noticed teams consistently reporting high rates of concussions during the early portions of training camp. This period is when exercises like the Oklahoma Drill are used most regularly. The old-school football staple has seen a general decline in its usage around the NFL in recent years, but teams like the Detroit Lions were still using it as recently as last summer.
Many variations of the Oklahoma Drill exist, but it often features two linemen, one linebacker and one running back in an enclosed area. Players and coaches typically gather around the drill to add to the claustrophobic, energetic atmosphere. Jarring contact is all but inevitable:
A variation known as the “Nutcracker Drill” sees two players lie on the ground a foot or two a part, scramble to their feet on a go call, and then either try to tackle their opponent or run them over, depending on who’s acting as the ballcarrier. As you can see in the above video, helmet-to-helmet contact is usually common in the Oklahoma Drill. That’s exactly why the NFL has now banned it, along with other time-honored traditions like the Bull-in-the-Ring and Half-Line Drills.
“We saw a certain area at the beginning of training camp where we felt could make greater improvement,” commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN of the decision. “I think removing some of these drills across all 32 teams is the right way to do that. We also believe by prohibiting some of these drills, that will happen at the college and high school and youth football levels, which we believe should happen.”
Photo Credit: Texas A&M Athletics