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Let's Talk Football: Pregame Warm-Up Drills

By Coach Tom Bass Wed, 04/14/2010 - 10:53am

Each week Coach Bass brings his 30 years of NFL coaching experience to USA Football. Email Coach Bass your question.

Karl had the following question:

What are your thoughts about pregame drills to do before a game?  We feel we need to be better organized in this area next season.

Hi Karl,

I have always felt that your pregame should be broken up into stretching and then actual physical movements that the players will use in the game.  If possible, it should incorporate many of the warm-up activities you do everyday at practice and are familiar to your team.

It is good to devote segments of one or two practice sessions and walk through how the team will come on the field, where each group will practice on the field, and the drills the team will use to warm-up.

Try to cover as much as possible ahead of time and strive to give all the players the knowledge of what they will do and where they will do it.  There should be no surprises or discussions out on the field before the first game.

The time the team comes on the field can be adjusted to stages with the kickers, holders, snappers and return people coming out first so they can use the field without breaking up another drill with their kicks. 

Next, you can bring out the perimeter people, defensive backs, linebackers, offensive backs, wide receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks.

They can stretch as a group and then begin to work on individual techniques with the quarterbacks throwing to two lines jogging down the field and then moving to actual pass routes starting with the short passes and then moving to the medium and long passes.

While the offense is doing this, the defensive people can be doing individual coverage drills including interceptions.  They should also do tackling drills.

Once the offense starts throwing actual pass patterns, the defensive backs and linebackers should go over and start covering them.

It should be understood that this is a drill for the offense and contact should be avoided with the defensive players allowing the offensive receivers to make the catch.

Finally, the big boys can be brought out, and if they have stretched off the field, they can move directly into doing some get-offs.  The defensive line should also tackle during this time while the offensive line can work on pass blocking, individual blocks and pulling.

Then they can come together and actually block against one another individually.

The final stage would be to bring the entire team together and have the offense run plays versus the defense.  This is for assignments and not a scrimmage. 

The defenders will hit into the blockers and then give way allowing the back to run.  They should allow the QB to throw and the receiver to make the reception.

Some coaches like to finish the pregame warm-up by going to the goal line and running two or three plays that they will use in the game in this situation and kicking one or two field goals as a team.

Teams do not need a great number of repetitions of each technique during pregame but you should try to cover as many techniques as possible.  Keep this time moving and well orchestrated so that the players feel comfortable and ready for the game.

Coach Tom Bass

Coach Tom Bass, the technical writer and advisor for USA Football, is a 30-year NFL coach who has also authored several books, including "Play Football the NFL Way" - the first "how to" book ever authorized and published by the NFL. Coach Bass is happy to personally autograph his books to you. Book ordering information can be found at