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The Most Effective Football Drills For Linebackers

The linebacker is a defensive player who is in position behind the defensive linemen and in front of the safeties and cornerbacks. The linebacker's principal responsibilities are to tackle runners and to defend against shorter passes. Linebacker drills need to focus on explosive speed, and change of direction agility.

Linebackers are similar to the running back but meaner. While the running back is trying to dodge the opposing team, a linebacker runs straight towards them at full speed.

Check out this YouTube video to see Linebacker Drills for Explosive Power & Speed with NFL Bobby Carpenter! 


Off-season football training using VertiMax effectively increases vertical explosion and speed.  VertiMax is for all types of athletes not just for high-level athletes.  The VertiMax patented  resistance bands limits stress being placed on your body as compared to weight training.  That is why VertiMax resistance training is great for young athletes when their body isn't fully developed to handle traditional weight training. Check out the VertiMax football training drills Bobby Carpenter performs in the video to help athletes train for any sport.


6 Linebacker Football Drills

1. Angle Drill

Plays rarely happen directly in front of you, and it’s the job of a linebacker to be able to move while keeping his eye on the ball’s position. The angle drill is simple yet effective at improving this required skill.  

  1. A linebacker will start on the sideline in between two yard-lines with a player at the other end holding a football
  2. He will then start running at a 45-degree angle
  3. Upon reaching one line, they will then cut back sprint towards the other at a 45-degree angle
  4. They will continue this all the way down to the other side
  5. Ensure the linebacker keeps his eye on the position of the other athlete with the ball the entire time

2. Backpedal and Shuffle

A linebacker can never turn his back on a play regardless of what direction they need to move. The backpedal and shuffle will improve an athlete’s ability to move forward, laterally, and backward while always facing the same direction. 

  1. Place 5 bags side-by-side about 2 yards apart
  2. Have a linebacker start on the end bag, looking away from the bag
  3. Upon a whistle, the linebacker will backpedal to the opposite end of the bag
  4. They will then shuffle laterally to get to the other side of the bag
  5. Sprint to the other side and then shuffle laterally to the other side
  6. This is repeated all the way down until the linebacker has maneuvered around all 5 bags
  7. Have the linebacker maintain forward eye position the entire drill


3. Shed Block and Tackle

This is a similar drill as seen above, except here, the athlete will just evade one block before making the tackle.  

  1. You will need a linebacker, an offensive lineman with a bag, a running back with a bag, and a quarterback
  2. The linebacker will start 5 yards back from the offensive lineman who is on the line of scrimmage.
  3. The quarterback will be in position with the running back information
  4. Upon snap, then the quarterback will drop back and flick the ball to the running back, who will begin to run at an angle
  5. The linebacker will pursue and meet the lineman. He must take the block and brush past.
  6. The linebacker then pursues the running back for a tackle

4. Open Field Tackling

Open field tackling is as raw as it gets and varies with the many situations in a game. Sometimes, a linebacker is in a position where it’s just him and an offensive player. Therefore, he must make a successful tackle solo. This is what “open field tackling” trains.

  1. Line up three cones about one yard apart.  
  2. Have a linebacker and running back stand on about 5 yds back from the cone on opposite sides.
  3. The running back and linebacker will start by running towards the cones.  
  4. Just before the first cone, the running back will cut either left or right.
  5. The linebacker must read the intent of the running back and cut the same direction to make the tackle.

5. The W Drill 

Improves change of direction by developing additional power for deceleration and acceleration into and out of directional movement. Enhances ability to maintain control and balance during directional change.

  1. Start in balanced athletic position.
  2. Alternate accelerating towards and away from VertiMax in a "W" pattern.
  3. Maintain low center of gravity into and out of directional change.
  4. Focus on balance control and maximum effort during deceleration and acceleration out of directional changes.



6. Cutback Drill

One of the most common mistakes a linebacker makes is overcommitment to a pursuit. An opposing player does not, and often will not, run in the same direction for an extended period of time. Therefore, the cutback drill teaches a linebacker to pursue while staying agile enough to make sudden corrections in their path.

  1. Use 4 cones to create a large square with sides about 10yds apart. This will act the area of play
  2. Have a linebacker and running back start on cones opposite of each other
  3. Upon whistle, the running back will sprint hard at an angle and the linebacker must purse
  4. At any given moment, the running back will change direction quickly and cut back
  5. The linebacker must respond and make contact for a mock tackle


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