3 Reasons Pursuit Drill Should Be Your First Drill

By FirstDown PlayBook on Aug 1, 2021

The very first defensive drill you should run with your defense this season should be the pursuit drill. It would be easy to just say that we are talking to the youth football coaches out there but this is pretty much universal in football.

We will almost guarantee you that all 32 NFL teams and every college football defense worth their salt runs this on the first day of team defense. You should too if you are a youth football coach. High school coaches…it goes without saying…we hope.

It’s a simple drill. You line up with a QB/Coach and two receivers outside near the boundary. On the snap the QB throws the ball to one of the receivers. The defense takes the proper pursuit and=gles to the ball FULL SPEED.

Your defense and your defensive coaches start on the sideline. The defensive coach calls the defense and your players sprint to the the field to quickly align in the proper defense. Coaches are moving too! Your defense must get lined up quickly and correctly!

When the ball is snapped your defense reacts to what the QB does. The QB can throw the ball out to the right or the left sideline. Once that happens your defense is responsible for taking the proper pursuit angles to the ball. If you coach older players you can throw a curl route but for youth football this is the way to go.

Here are three reasons the pursuit drill needs to be on your practice schedule this week when you start practice

1. The Pursuit Drill Sets The Tempo For Practice

You need to get their motors running early on in practice. Good defense requires a high motor and people flying around. If this drill is done correctly you will have players and coaches getting their blood flowing early on in your practice with this drill.

2. Teach Pursuit Angles & Team Defense

Teaching angles and pursuit is one of the hardest things to teach in football. We are all different with different abilities. This comes into play when you are pursuing the football. You need to take the angle that allows YOU to cut the ball off.

The pursuit drill forces every defender to “tag off” on the ball carrier. Tag off means exactly what it says. The defenders will tag the ball carrier while allowing them to continue down the sideline. You should teach your defenders to underhand tag with both hands as if they were about to perform a tackle.

3. Teach Effort & Running To The Football

The word “never” is overused in coaching descriptions but there has NEVER been a good defense that did not give great effort and run to the football. This pursuit drill teaches that.

Alignment and assignment are critical to being a good defensive football player. Fundamentals and technique are also essential to helping your players be as good as they can be. No effort to the Ball? Your players have no chance to be good, much less great.

So as you are making out your defensive practice schedule for practice number one, this pursuit drill should be at the very top even before you break up into individual. These diagrams will be in the FirstDown PlayBook Youth defense section if you need them.

FirstDown PlayBook is the only Digital Football PlayBook that gives you access to over thirty five thousand football plays, schemes and technique help. All plays are designed by coaches and players with NFL experience. FirstDown PlayBook is also the Official Playbook of NAIA Football and NAIA Women’s Flag Football.