Clark Wilkins, sometimes called by the inaccurate nickname "Dum Coach", and sometimes by the accurate one, "Boomfart", has once again contributed to Football for Youth! with an article. This time, Coach Wilkins will help you turn that fullback of yours into a hole-opening, ball-carrying, linebacker-smashing machine. His belief is that, for most offenses, the fullback is the hammer, driving the defense into their shoes at every play. In his Wing-T system, his fullbacks average over ten yards per carry and are the most feared players on his offense. When they're not flattening someone with a block, they're flat out running over a defender.
If you're like me, and I know I am, I think you'll want to print this one out.
This article is reprinted by permission of Coach Wilkins from a post made in December, 2001 on a Delphi message board. The copyright on this article is held by Coach Wade in Coach Wilkins' name. You may only make copies of this article for personal or team use without express written permission of the original author.
I agree with Coach Tom. However, we usually work his theory into our drills in order to make theory a reality. First, Coach Tom, said, "head up". To coach "head up" stand in front of the handoff point and watch the fullback's eyes for the handoff. If his eyes are on the ball for the handoff, you're screwed. His head is not up. He's not looking where he's going. To correct this, as the fullback comes forward for the handoff, hold up 1, 2, or 3 fingers and make him count them and call it out. He can't count fingers and look at the ball at the same time. You have to reinforce this drill daily. If you stop running it, he'll start looking at the handoff again.
Next (or even at the same time) have two coaches hold a ten foot section of PVC pipe across the line of scrimmage at the neck height of your fullback. As he takes the the hand off and counts fingers, he must pass beneath the pipe without striking it with his helmet. After about 100 tries (Yes, he'll knock it all over the place to begin with) he is now staying low. Again, reinforce this daily. If you don't, he'll soon be running "straight up" again.
Coach Tom is also correct that speed is critical. The player should know that if he hits a hole with speed, the hole will still be there when he arrives. Hitting it slow has no such guarantee. If there is no hole and he hits the line with speed, he should still at least get something. Otherwise, if he hits it slow and there's no hole, there's no gain. Our fullback is told this and must repeat it back.
To get his speed up, Coach Tom is right to have him start with short, choppy steps. My fullback does that for his first three steps. He then lengthens his stride after he crosses the line of scrimmage (We tell him to try and bust it outside once he gets past the defensive tackles). In practice, we don't let him come back up until he reaches full speed, so he learns to accelerate rapidly in order to be able to come back sooner.
A good fullback understands "freeze" blocking. When busting it up the middle, my fullback runs straight at the nearest linebacker. This freezes the linebacker who waits to see which way he'll cut and, while he's waiting, the lineman blocking him has an easy target. The fullback cuts at the last second off the block, comes out of his low stance, lengthens his stride, and blows by!
You can simulate this by standing behind a tackling dummy in a 5-2 inside linebacker position. The fullback must run straight at the bag. The coach behind the bag now shows his face to the runner on one side of the bag or the other and the fullback must cut the other way (About 2 out of every 3 such drills we'll try and get the fullback to cut outside because, given his choice, this is where we want him to go.). If you want to combine drills, instead of showing your head from behind the bag, show your hand and make him count fingers.
We aren't finished yet! If you play fullback for me, you are a tank on the loose creating damage and mayhem. We still have three more points to cover. Standing behind the coach behind the bag is another coach holding a helmet to simulate a FS. As the fullback cuts off the bag, this coach steps towards the fullback (going the opposite way of the coach in front of him) and holds the helmet out at the fullback's chest height. The fullback now stiff arms the helmet with his inside hand, palms up, right above the face mask.
The fullback now runs to the second point, which is a tackling bag slightly to his outside and simulates either an strong safety or a corner back. He now drives into that bag with his outside shoulder with both hands on the ball. He must hit this bag so hard that he deliberately stumbles. He now puts one hand to the ground, palm flat (not just knuckles and fingertips) catch himself, then come back up by kicking his knees high and throwing his chest out, and keeps on running.
This is the system I used for training my wing T fullback's. I didn't use it for the double wing but the last year I ran the Wing T before trying the double wing my fullback averaged 10 yards per carry. We deliberately choose kids to play fullback for their impact at the point of hit.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you use these drills and then scrimmage your own defense, your own players will not tackle your fullback. He'll go for a touchdown every play. This is because the defense learns it is not fun to tackle him - so they don't. They just let him go. Some will put on "acts" where they make it look like they tried but it's just an act. Therefore, handing off to your fullback in practice against a live defense is a waste of time. We limit him to 1-2 carries in a scrimmage and let him block the rest. Otherwise, he'd score 60-70 points in 30 minutes and that gives the fullback a false sense of invincibility.
Just because our guys won't try and tackle him doesn't mean the other team's guys won't try and tackle him. So we deliberately run the fullback more times in his drills then in an actual scrimmage (Of course, if we're scrimmaging another team, we let him run them over). Anyway, as you can see, there's a lot involved in creating a true terror at fullback but it can be done.