Football players who are able to hit with greater force see performance enhancements on the field, including a better ability to overcome opponents and make more tackles. To hit harder, you’ve got to improve the explosiveness in your hips and legs, which drive into the ground and propel you forward toward your opponent. Although on-the-field drills are beneficial, football coaches are finding that limiting hard hits on the field helps to reduce injuries, according to a 2013 ESPNBoston.com article by Scott Barboza. You can also effectively improve your hitting power with noncontact exercises.
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Bear Crawl Drill
The bear crawl develops power and explosion in your hips, improving your ability to drive your opponent forward. In addition, the drill forces you to remain low, which is the position you want to be in when you’re putting a hit on an opponent. Start by getting on your hands and feet, similar to a pushup position. Lift your hips up in the air and then crawl on all fours as quickly as you can for 20 yards. Rest 60 seconds and then repeat, completing the drill for a total of 10 sets.
The man in the middle drill requires multiple football players. One player stands in the middle of a circle of his teammates. The player at the center of the circle points to one teammate, who in turn must sprint forward and hit the player at the center of the circle. If the player in the circle is able to take down his oncoming opponent, they switch positions. If the player at the center of the circle is knocked down, he has to repeat the drill and point to another teammate.
For a true challenge with a teammate, incorporate the pit drill into your football workouts. To set up the drill, create a pit in the shape of a circle or square using either cones or tackling dummies. Have you and your teammate stand opposite of each other. You and your teammate take off at each other simultaneously, often initiated by a coach’s whistle. You and your teammate hit each other as hard as possible, trying to drive each other outside the pit. The teammate who is knocked out of the pit area loses.
Utilizing Olympic Lifts
Olympic weight-training drills, such as power cleans and push jerks, involve intense, full-body movements that will help you develop power through your hips and legs. Incorporate them into your training regimen twice per week, completing three to four sets of four to eight reps each. The power clean and push jerk are speed exercises. Focus should be on technique and performing each rep as explosively as possible. Power cleans involve holding a barbell down in front of your thighs and then jumping and pulling it up your torso, catching it at your shoulders. During push jerks, the barbell starts at your shoulders. Jump to propel the bar overhead, catching it with your arms fully extended.