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How To Be the Best Linebacker

Tips For Being a Linebacker

There are a lot of skills that go into being a linebacker.

You have to be strong enough to fight off blockers bigger than you and quick enough to tackles runners smaller than you.

You have to have anticipation of what the offense is trying to do, so you don’t get faked out and end up on the wrong part of the field.

But you have to be the most aggressive player on the field, always willing to take on the ball carrier and dish out a hit.

Being the best linebacker you can be requires you to have football smarts, but also be the toughest tough guy on the field.

What Makes a Great Linebacker?

I’ll go over the traits of the best linebacker and skills you can work on to become the best linebacker on the field ever time you play football.

1. Have Good Balance – Use Good Footwork

Strangely enough, being a good linebacker acquires you to have good balance. The same can be said with running backs, because they have to be able to evade tacklers and make cuts, while also staying on their feet when hit. Linebackers have to chase down running backs, so that requires them to have great balance, so they won’t get faked out by the runner’s moves.

Also, linebackers are usually going to have to bounce off blockers, staying on their feet while they eye the running back up the field.

All of this requires incredible balance. Balance comes from having a good base under you. That means having good footwork and a low center of gravity.

Work on footwork drills if you’re a coach trying to drill his linebackers. If you’re a linebacker trying to improve, improve your own balance by working on your footwork.

The better footwork you have, the better leverage you’ll have. Keeping leverage means maintaining good technique, which often goes with getting into a stance when tackling and maintaining a low center of gravity.

2. Build Your Strength

Train in the offseason and during the week, lifting weights to get stronger. Talk with a weight training expert and have a sensible weight training program to help you improve. Your weight training should involve the bench press, leg presses, arm curls, squats and power cleans.

Also perform push-ups, sit-ups and calf raises to work out muscles that might not be isolated on the weight training. These also keep you limber, which is important.

3. Condition Training

Also, condition yourself with running in the offseason. This builds your leg muscles, stamina and cardiovascular (often called cardio) system. Playing defensive football takes more endurance than playing offense, because you chase the ball on every single play.

When it’s the fourth quarter and you’re trying to make a big play on the 10th play of the drive, you’ll be thanking yourself for all those runs in the offseason.

4. Run Sprints

You’ll also want to run sprints, because a linebacker has to have explosion off the ball. Most plays involve you running less than 20 yards, so you need to be able to run in short bursts of energy. Sprints are torture for many football players, but a linebacker has to be able to sprint to the ball.

5. Practice Your Technique

Linebackers need to practice their tackling technique. This requires you to practice your stance. Keep a low center of gravity. Keep your feet underneath your shoulders. (Literally.)

If your feet are too close together, you’ll be knocked off balance and off your feet easily. If you have too wide of a stance, you will be too slow to make adjustments and react to the ball carrier.

6. Study Film of Your Opponents

Once you get to the high school varsity level and college football level, studying film of your next opponent is a way linebackers can get an edge.

When you study film, you study tendencies of players and what the favorite plays the opposing teams run. When game time comes, you’ll be able to recognize a play as it develops and anticipate what your opponents will do next.

You’ll be able to meet your opponent “in the hole”, stuffing plays before the ball carriers can get in the open field.

7. Learn to Tackle Properly

Keep your head up. Put the face of your mask in the sternum (chest pads) of your opponent, if possible. Wrap up when you hit your opponent.

You’ll have to make tackles besides form tackles at times, but what you want to remember is to wrap up and not try to tackle by hitting your opponent hard enough to knock him down.

No matter how you tackle, get your arms around your opponent and impede him. And keep your head up.

When you put your head down, it’s more dangerous for your opponent and much more dangerous for you. When you hit with the crown of your helmet, you’re likely to spear your opponent down low or cause a helmet-to-helmet concussion up top.

But putting your head down exposes your neck, spine and brain to injury. Players have broken their neck and been paralyzed by tackling with their head down, so don’t tackle with your head down.

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This entry was posted on Monday, November 2nd, 2009 at 8:15 pmand is filed under College Football, Football, Youth Football. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “How To Be the Best Linebacker”

  1. Sam says:

    I sometimes forget how much work goes into being a good football player, and I’m not even talking about the elite pro level. I’m certain those guys take it to a whole new level.

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