I get messages at least once a day asking me something football related. This off season I would say the number 1 thing has been asking how to teach vertical setting. I have written articles in the past on vertical setting and drills for pass pro but I want to use this article to tie it all together.
This is the order I would go about teaching things.
Find a scheme
Vertical setting can and will work in any type of pass protection scheme. I have used it and seen it used at the HS and College level in BOB, half slide, and full slide protections. Pick a scheme (maybe have a 2nd as a change up or adjustment) and beat your rules in to your kids head. Vertical setting is great, the best thing since sliced bread, but if you flat out don’t attempt to block a defender because you’re kids don’t know who to block, or more importantly, where their eyes need to be, it won’t matter if you back hand spring set… you’re QB is dead.
Decide your ideal depth
Colleges and vertical set purists have been using a 4 step vertical step approach )inside out inside out) as far as I know since it’s invention. My original Vertical Set post explains this. Middle of 2 seasons ago I adjusted ours to a 2 step approach. 4 steps was getting us too close to the QB’s face and he felt uncomfortable and I felt we could still do our job with 2 steps of depth. I dubbed this technique Vertical Set 2.0 because it was the new edition and used 2 steps. You need to decide what is best for your kids. If I was brand new to it I would work 4 steps initially and see how the OL and QB felt with it and then adjust it to 2 steps from there.
Over exaggerate the set
I believe, in the beginning it is best to have the kids flying backwards. I like to have them go for more yardage or steps than I would ask in a game when we first teach it. My thought is similar to track coaches who train their 100m kids by running 200’s. After doing all those 200’s, the 100 seems easy. Same thing with setting, after working back for 5 yards, or 6 steps, doing our 2 step vertical set is faster, and feels more comfortable to them.
Below is a video of my kids setting for depth (6 steps) followed by our wave drill. Sorry the video starts a half second too late.
The next thing I would get really good at is wave drill. You can work a ton of kids at once. You can burn some muscle memory in to them. You are teaching the kids how to step to cut off an inside rush move or a move to their outside. I refer to them as Power Step and Slide Step. The Power step is a hard step, 45 degrees up field and inside with a powerful inside hand punch to cut off a defender. The Slide Step is a pretty traditional kick slide backwards and out at a 45 degree angle to continue getting depth and widening a defender should rush your edge.
This drill is great for checking kids pass pro posture, hands, body position, stagger, and their footwork. This clip below shows the kids after a squat day (you will see their signs of leg fatigue). Here I have them all working one side (same stagger and stance), once we get rolling and kids know what position they will be playing the most and where they will be getting most of their reps we will just line the kids up and they will use the stagger of their position. I just point to a side and for half of them it would simulate an outside rush more while it is an inside rush to the other half of them.
Next I introduce our mirror drill. This helps them reinforce keeping good body posture and moving their feet laterally to “mirror” their defender. Here is a LINK to a post I did a while back on the mirror drill.
We eventually progress to working mirror, and then I yell HIT, on HIT the defender rushes and the OL has to execute a punch.
The next drill I use is what I call “Partner Sets”. We get a lot of good reps in this drill if the kids will work each other. We partner up and designate one guy as the OL, one as the defender. On the OL movement the defender will rush and pick a side working 1 move. The OL has to Set, incorporate part of wave and mirror drill to stay head up with the defender, punch the defender, and work his feet to cancel this first move.
As the kids improve at this drill I then allow the defender to work a first move followed by a counter. This can be a great time to work kids on the moves you see most from an opponent, or a specific defender’s best move and counter move.
Live 1 on 1s
By this point we are pretty close to letting them go full out and put it all together. We will work live 1 on 1s next. I think of this as the test of how well I have taught them. They will need to use things they’ve learned doing all of the above drills to be successful.
Blitz Pick Up
As long as you have been chalking, walking through, and teaching your specific pass pro scheme(s) your kids should be able to execute the blocks now. You can include the RB and QB if you like, or just keep your OL by themselves, whatever works best for you. Now you will use a full defense to bring pressure (combining the 1 on 1’s into a 5 on 5 situation for your OL, or 6 on 6 if you add the back). You are evaluating where their eyes are and the blocks they are making.
My biggest piece of advice with this drill is to have your fronts/stunts/blitzes pre printed out on cards. This is something given to you in TFS but it could be made in PPT in an hour or with HUDL in probably even less time. Make a card for everything you even think you could possibly see. Make a copy for each of your lower level coaches as well. Put them in a binder, keep it in the ball bag, your trunk, your briefcase… whatever. It makes going through and getting the reps so much easier when you can hold it up rather than talk to the defense and see where to go. If you are fortunate enough to have an assistant helping your OL or an injured kid they can be holding up the card for the defense while you are coaching up/correcting/praising your OL in the drill.
Here are some other drills from a post a did a couple of years ago.