If you’re looking for your offensive pass production to increase this season, the Noose Drill may be the answer. It’s a multi-faceted drill that works on negating press coverage- teaching receivers to attain leverage quickly at the line of scrimmage while training quarterbacks to finding throwing windows. It’s a staple at programs like Washington State, West Virginia and Baylor. And it can get done in all under five minutes.
Stamford HS (TX) - 2012 1A Div 1 State Champions
Editor’s Note: Currently the offensive coordinator/receivers coach at Stamford (TX) HS. Have also had other assistant coaching stops at McGregor, Holliday, Knox City and City View (Wichita Falls) all in TX. Have worked under AD/HC Wayne Hutchinson for 11 of the past 12 years at Stamford and Knox City, being promoted to OC in 2009. In those 11 seasons have been 97-32, including 37-6 in the past 3, with a quarterfinal appearance in 2003, a trip to the state finals in 2011 and the 2012 1A Division 1 State Championship. Also coach OLBs and DEs on defense, 8th grade basketball and assistant coach of the Bulldog baseball team that has made 3 consecutive state tournament appearances. Father of 4 Boys and husband to wife Mindy.
Several years ago, we decided to scrap our flex bone offense and made the wholesale switch to a shotgun spread offense. In doing so, we knew we would need to incorporate many ideals that would help us become more consistent and successful at throwing and catching the football, but one drill that we run everyday is the Noose drill. I first encountered this drill in Lubbock at Texas Tech under the direction of Mike Leach. Most of you guys by now, probably know the story of Coach Leach and his tutelage under Hal Mumme. Then, when we went into spread offenses, we became clients of Tony Franklin and his “System”, another branch of the Air Raid offense family tree and came across the drill again and developed a better understanding and application of this drill.
The reason I like this drill so much and we use it everyday is for a couple of reasons. I have never seen a drill that encompasses so many of the little things that receivers and quarterbacks need to be conscious of in one drill that can be done in 5 minutes. Secondly, we are a small school (1A in Texas, our high school enrollment is 185) and we have guys that play both sides of the football and our entire coaching staff must coach both offense and defense. Coincidentally, we typically only have an hour for our offensive half of practice. Since we’re lacking some of the individual time that bigger schools may have, noose is great because we can coach so many details for our positions without having to spend a great amount of time on it during individual offense in practice.
Again, one of the best things about Noose is that it covers a myriad of things that we will harp on that we believe are critical to being a good receiver. In listening to many “Air Raid” spread offensive minds (Mumme, Leach, Franklin, Dana Holgerson, Sonny Dykes, Art Briles, etc.) speak, one common thing that most will mention is that the best way to get embarrassed in the spread offense is to not able to defeat press man coverage and not be able to get off the line of scrimmage and get into your routes. You may only see it once or twice a season, but when you do, you better be prepared for it. So for this reason, we work everyday on man press releases and the first few steps of the drill reflect this. It’s a worst-case scenario mentality…if you can get off man press, everything else should be easier.
We run noose drill everyday in pre-practice as a warm up. Another thing that we don’t waste time on anymore is an old-school, static, block-type stretch, where it takes 5 minutes everyday just to get the freshmen in a straight line in the back. Instead, we warm up with Noose.
The drill is set up with two cones five yards apart (we use the boundary and yard lines). Some people will use stand up dummies or trashcans instead of cones or you could even use two guys that are in line. The cones are used to represent a defender, particularly a linebacker for the purposes of this drill. The receivers will line up behind one cone, facing the other cone. The next man in line will step around and be a defender. The QBs will be perpendicular to the cones, about 8 or 10 yards deep.
Wide Receiver Mechanics
- STANCE – The first thing we coach our guys on is their stance. So for stance, we want our guys to have a wide base, a “fighter’s stance” with their feet about shoulder width apart. We don’t worry about one foot or the other being forward, because we don’t count steps in our routes. The next thing is we want our shoulders lower than the defender’s shoulders and our hands up and ready.
- FOOT FIRE – Our next step is a foot fire technique. Here we are rapidly firing our feet and hands. We want to gain some ground and threaten the DB’s cushion and get into him, all without giving him a clue as to what our first move is going to be. We want to be violent with our hands and not let him engage.
- STICK OPPOSITE – Here we want to begin our single “stick” release by sticking our toe in the ground in the opposite direction that we’re going. We want them to do a good job of selling that they are going in the direction of the stick, so we want a good head and shoulder fake. We encourage them to “put some flavor in it” just like they’re being covered by their brother in the back yard.
- CLEAN THEIR HANDS – Here we need to be violent with our hands. After we’ve set the DB up that we are going the other direction, we want to “break his wrists” or “break his elbow” are good visuals that we will use here. We want to get the defenders hands off of us as we’re going into our dip.
- DIP AND RIP – Next, we want to again be violent with our hands and rip through the defender while at the same time, we want to reduce our surface and give the defender very little opportunity to grab. We want a low shoulder pad level while turning our back to the defender and trying to slide past him. We do not want to try to “swim” past him and open up our rib cage to the DB.
- RE-STACK – After we get even with the defender, we want to try to lean back into him and if we can, we want to put him behind us. We tell them to “get back on the numbers” which is our normal alignment landmark or “re-stack” the defender. When using the boundary or yard lines, we want to make sure that they are getting back on that line and not tending to “fade to the sideline” or get rooted out by the defender.
- STICK – We prefer to stick our routes by sinking our hips and sticking a toe in the ground and not decelerating by chopping our feet or “cleaning our cleats” before our breaks. To simulate this we will get into a half speed, high knee type action to the opposite cone and stick with our outside foot away from the QB. Again here, we pay attention to making a good head and shoulder fake and tell them to “hide their numbers” from the defender. They should always stick with the outside foot and turn towards the QB, all the way around and back towards the other cone.
- SETTLE – After returning or almost returning to the original cone, the receiver will stick again and turn and face the QB. They are told not to settle in the middle, but rather to be closer to one cone or the other, which gives the QB a correct shoulder to throw to.
- NOOSE- The name of the drill comes from the diamond made by your hands when your index finger tips and thumbs on your hands meet. This is a key point in being successful in catching the football, so it is being emphasized here. The receiver should hold up his hands and show his noose to the QB or he should not throw the ball.
- WORK BACK TO THE BALL – once they have made their final stick and are facing the QB with their noose up, we want them to work back to the ball. We tell them to keep a wide base and their feet hot while working slightly back to the QB to keep a defender from stepping in front of them and intercepting the ball. We do not need them to gain a ton of ground here, just working their feet as the QB may still be working his footwork or reads and may not be ready to deliver the throw just yet.
- EXAGGERATE THE CATCH - We want to make sure our guys are looking in the ball and catching the ball with their noose, not flipping their hands at the last minute. We tell them to “take a picture of it” like they are holding a camera and clicking it just for a second before they tuck it away.
- TUCK – “Eyes to the tuck” is what we will tell them here to make sure that they exaggerate tucking the ball away and are not trying to run off before they have the ball caught.
- DROP STEP – We want to get skinny and gain ground as soon as we catch the ball, so we work on a drop step with our foot that is away from the defender (nearest cone and hopefully towards the shoulder that the QB has delivered the ball) to get straight up the field right now. Some guys will jump in place and throw their feet like the old quarter eagle drill, but they are not gaining any yardage.
- HIGH AND TIGHT – The last thing we harp on in every drill is ball security. We want the ball tucked high and tight up on the breast plate of those shoulder pads on our drop step and immediately behind the cones we will have two defenders that the receiver must split as they try to rip the ball out. After the receiver clears the strip defenders and scores for about five yards, he hustles the ball back to the center high and tight all the way (again, if we do not have our centers, he will give the snap) before he returns to take the place of one of the strip guys and they get in the back of the line.
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- Additional details on how Coach West sets up the Noose Drill for simplicity and variations.
- More coaching points on the foot fire, stick opposite, clean their hands, re-stack, stick, setlle and dip and rip techniques to help players get the most out of the drill.
- Detailed explanation of quarterback progressions of the drill such as the drop back, concept reads and release and throw techniques.
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Again, we feel this drill allows to begin coaching great detail from the very get go to begin every practice. It has become an essential tool for us and we believe has allowed us to enjoy some of the success that we have had since selling out and becoming a spread offense. Feel free to contact us with any questions.