NFL bans certain old-school training-camp drills

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Aloha, Oklahoma drills.

The NFL has eliminated various types of high-contact drills from training-camp practices, including the Oklahoma drill and bull in the ring.

The move is the next step in the evolution of the game, as the league hopes to identify and to remove any and all situations that entail unnecessary helmet contact.

The Oklahoma drill is a key aspect of old-school football practice. Consider the reverence with which players and coaches spoke of the exercise only six years ago, when the Bengals returned to Hard Knocks. (Seriously, click that link and watch it.) Still, this change didn’t come from the ivory tower on 345 Park Avenue; coaches were directly involved in identifying and embracing the elimination of these concussion-inducing plays.

The reason for doing it is simple. As the NFL tries to lead the way in making the sport safer at every level (so that people will choose to play it at every level), the NFL needs to get rid of certain dangerous drills, and to hope that college, high school, and youth football will do the same.

80 responses to “NFL bans certain old-school training-camp drills

  1. When are we gonna get rid of the tackling part?
    ____________________________________________

    Exactly. And you wonder why tackling has deteriorated to where it is now. Can’t hit a player too hard anymore. Ridiculous.

  2. This makes me feel like I’m losing something that I love… I’ll have fond memories of high school football practice (DOING THIS EXACT DRILL and others like it!) until the day I die. This WILL have an affect on Sundays. You can’t wear a skirt all week and then man up for game days. There is a reason that they say “Practice makes perfect”.

  3. I watched the video. Looked ok to me. I was expecting something medieval based on PFT’s asssessment but if the coaches are behind the change, then it’s ok with me.

  4. Oklahoma is no more dangerous a drill than any NFL running play. In fact, there are less people hitting. It’s a good drill. Sorry.

  5. I have no doubt eliminated more contact drills will lead to more injuries in the games because players arent ready for contact in pre-season or the regular season.

    When they started eliminating practices under the new CBA look at how steep the drop off in offensive line play had been. There are a few teams that come out firing on offense to start the season but many teams it finally happens week 6.

  6. Dumb. The Oklahoma drill directly simulates what will happen in a game. I fail to see how there’s anything wrong with a 1-on-1 blocking drill where the DL is trying to shed the block and tackle the ball carrier.

  7. Fun Fact— banning practicing on how to do things right will not make things go more right in games. Especially not teaching young men starting football how to CORRECTLY shed blocks/read blocks like is done in an Oklahoma drill. Show them how to not lead with their head and keep the drills and TEACH. Good lord, these people.

  8. They players are in favor of it. The coaches are in favor of it. The NFL is in favor of it. But the game is getting too soft for luddite internet commenters, bring on the injuries, they will only be satisfied with blood!

  9. 49erfan44 says:
    May 22, 2019 at 11:14 am
    Jeez. America 2019. Just put flags on them already.
    _______________
    Sounds like someone never played football. I respect the Oklahoma drill, and I’m glad I got to experience it, but if you’re trying to make football safer, that’s the first thing to go. Seems like there’s a nightmare story to come out of high schools every August, and that’s just not necessary.

  10. OMG players today are wussified. Their union makes sure of this by suing the NFL for anything and everything.
    In response, the NFL must minimize its liability by instituting “safety” rules and banning drills, techniques, etc that will allow the NFL’s legal team to provide a reasonable and justifiable response to any future litigation from players (past, present, or future), the NFLPA, or relatives of the aforementioned players.
    Players KNOW the risks before they sign their contract, yet they sign anyway in exchange for a signing bonus and rich salary.
    When pro football becomes unwatchable….fans must blame 3 factions who ALL seek to enrich themselves once the game checks stop coming in:
    Players
    NFLPA
    Agents/lawyers/families of the players

  11. Soon a game call will sound like “1st and 10 at the Bears 26, they go with a doe-si-do to the left! Oh no Jim the Lions countered with a circle right and the Bears sashay through to a first down!!!”

  12. The Oklahoma drill was my favorite for many years, but it’s so unnecessary for pros. At this stage of the game, the emphasis should be on tackling technique and not who hits the hardest. The drill has no merit at that level. 16 games alone is strenuous on the body. They don’t need the extra hitting.

  13. I hear there’s a real exciting game of chess on tonight. Football has just grown too passive for my taste and a good chess match gives me goose bumps!

  14. Valentino8100 says:
    May 22, 2019 at 11:29 am
    Gonna start watching cricket.

    The World cup 50 overs per team is about to start (30th May). Even if you know nothing about the sport you will love it. Give it a chance.

  15. No one here complaining about this has ever participated in a football practice in their lives, especially the guy above claiming to have fond memories of his high school practices.

  16. Will the players be allowed to at least “fist bump” after a good play? …

  17. Bull in the ring was always a little sketchy, but the Oklahoma drill was a staple of practice.

  18. Let’s just ban football and be done with it we will all be better people for it !

  19. The elephant in the room remains the fact that 10+ guys bang helmets all along the line on every single play during the games.

  20. A lot of the opinions backing the Oklahoma Drill sounds like they come from people who never played football or at least didn’t past high school.

  21. I’m not sure I understand. How will they know how to rush and block in games if they can’t do the real thing in practice. I do understand that keeping practice a little less aggressive and more safe than games is sensible (which is the norm for any contact sport), but what will they do instead?

  22. vincemantooth says:
    May 22, 2019 at 11:36 am
    49erfan44 says:
    May 22, 2019 at 11:14 am
    Jeez. America 2019. Just put flags on them already.
    _______________
    Sounds like someone never played football. I respect the Oklahoma drill, and I’m glad I got to experience it, but if you’re trying to make football safer, that’s the first thing to go. Seems like there’s a nightmare story to come out of high schools every August, and that’s just not necessary.

    ——————

    Why is it inherently so dangerous if that is exactly what is happening in games? Can’t they keep the drill and limit it a bit more to keep it safer?

  23. Everyone in high school football did these drills. There are a couple of purposes:

    1. Coaches want to see who is a fighter. I understand the criticism, especially with guys who don’t know proper technique, but it’s a start.

    2. Team building. It gets you to pull for your team and position. It also serves as comic relief or humiliation for certain players. That helps the staff to keep everyone focused.

    I think Oklahoma drills and bull in the ring are stupid for OTAs, where it should be a teaching exercise and light contact. I do think this drill have some value late in training camp though. It’s something you get the players to work towards, mentally and physically.

  24. youngnoize says:
    May 22, 2019 at 12:07 pm
    You can still do the same simulation during “inside run” drill. You’re really not losing much by taking this out of practices.

    ————-

    Ok, but out of interest, why is it more dangerous than the inside run drill?

  25. You all remember that episode of South Park Sarcastiball? Players complimenting each other, tossing a balloon around, wearing bras.

  26. Next the NFL will mandate cellphone breaks every 20 minutes like the Cardinals have now. After that it will be daily puppy cuddlings.

  27. Coaches stop running the Oklahoma drill – nobody knows and nobody bats an eye.
    NFL “bans” the Oklahoma drill and everybody loses their mind.

    The limited contact in NFL practices has definitely taken a toll on the on-field product, but that started long before this. Banning the Oklahoma drill, in reality, means nothing. It’s been dead.

    Also, say what you want about the Bengals being terrible or terribly run, or all of the above, but they were a great watch on Hard Knocks.

  28. Everything they do makes life easier for the good, established teams. Got a new coach and a new scheme? It’s tough sledding, because you don’t get much real-deal practice time.

  29. youngnoize says:
    May 22, 2019 at 12:07 pm
    You can still do the same simulation during “inside run” drill. You’re really not losing much by taking this out of practices.

    ————-

    Ok, but out of interest, why is it more dangerous than the inside run drill?
    —————————————————————————————-
    It’s not, but “inside run” is basically defensive 7-on-7. You can actually work your schemes into it and it’s not unnecessary hitting. Just don’t need all that pounding in one practice. NFL teams haven’t run the Oklahoma drill in a while. There was no merit to it.

  30. From ESPN article Jan 2019:

    The NFL no longer has general liability insurance covering head trauma, according to multiple sources; just one carrier is willing to provide workers’ compensation coverage for NFL teams. Before concussion litigation roiled the NFL beginning in 2011, at least a dozen carriers occupied the insurance market for pro football, according to industry experts.

    “If you’re football, hockey or soccer the insurance business doesn’t want you.”
    Alex Fairly, CEO of the Fairly Group
    ————-
    It’s not about wussification of the game. If the NFL cannot make the game safer, then there will be no more football. The XFL will not be exempt from this either.

  31. Fun fact : If the job is not dangerous and you can play for 20 years then don’t pay millions just give them a regular Salary. It’s almost unwatchable now the way it’s rigged

  32. Let’s all be sure to be clear on these drills too and their purpose and ability to be preformed safely when you want to…

    Oklahoma is a blocker and a runner vs two defenders, but forced to be stacked in a line between two barriers that don’t allow much lateral movement, but still some. This is how you teach shedding blocks while holding position, bolcking while holding position, decision making in runners following blocks, and block reading in linebackers/dbs…ALL in one drill.

    Bull in the ring is one player in the center of a circle of players who is tasked with not being blindsided by players in the ring who’s goal it is to blindside them.

    One of these things is not like the other.

  33. i remember we had a drill called murder circle where the whole team formed a circle and coach would toss the ball to someone and you had to run across the circle and try to smash through two defenders…it was supposed to help running with the ball after contact…if you didn;t keep your legs moving at contact coach would make you do it again and again….yeah it sucked…just like these other drills suck

  34. Instead, the guys will sit around in a circle and talk about their favorite moments from “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” Maybe have a good cry.

  35. variant703 says:
    May 22, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    From ESPN article Jan 2019:

    The NFL no longer has general liability insurance covering head trauma, according to multiple sources; just one carrier is willing to provide workers’ compensation coverage for NFL teams. Before concussion litigation roiled the NFL beginning in 2011, at least a dozen carriers occupied the insurance market for pro football, according to industry experts.

    “If you’re football, hockey or soccer the insurance business doesn’t want you.”
    Alex Fairly, CEO of the Fairly Group
    ————-
    It’s not about wussification of the game. If the NFL cannot make the game safer, then there will be no more football. The XFL will not be exempt from this either.

    —–

    not cure if this comment is more of indictment on the players, the league, or the insuance industry…. but in an unrelated story, I know which one takes the most of my money and the one that provides me with the least return for it and the most headaches. Boom.

  36. BILLY PENN IS A GIANTS FAN says:
    May 22, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Let’s just ban football and be done with it we will all be better people for it !

    —————————————

    Seems like the Giants banned football a couple years ago.

  37. rr2000k says:
    May 22, 2019 at 11:41 am
    Going to make it unwatchable, just like Nascar did,
    —————————
    I once had to choose which was more exciting to watch, NASCAR or grass growing contests. Now I can tell you everything you need to know about photosynthesis.

  38. thewanderer says:
    May 22, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Coaches stop running the Oklahoma drill – nobody knows and nobody bats an eye.
    NFL “bans” the Oklahoma drill and everybody loses their mind.
    ————
    Bans take away freedom. The choice to stop doing something or do it is great to have.

  39. I got a major concussion from this in HS football – nobody noticed, so I got back in line for the next rep.

  40. cardinealsfan20 says:
    May 22, 2019 at 11:48 am

    No one here complaining about this has ever participated in a football practice in their lives, especially the guy above claiming to have fond memories of his high school practices.

    —————–

    You weren’t a very passionate, or good, football player in High School, were you…

  41. Rugby player are just as athletic and don’t wear helmets, yet they don’t have so many issues with this garbage.

  42. Oklahoma drill is a practical and useful drill. It’s about dis-engaging with your block and making a play. What difference does it make if it is 5 v 5 or 1 v 1? None.

    Bull in the Ring? I cannot imagine in this day and age any team would still being doing this. That was only meant to punish and torture you. The goal was to see someone get blown up.

    Players are high priced commodities. How would you go to your GM and say “Sorry Boss, we need to sign another TE because so and so got hurt in the Bull in the Ring drill”

  43. brwmstr says:
    May 22, 2019 at 11:36 am
    water it down some more… pretty soon they will be playing soccer

    If they were good enough they’d be playing futbol. A few backs maybe but the big bodies would wither. If they weren’t freaks of nature, or the buffet line, they wouldn’t even be playing football.

  44. tylawspick6 says:
    May 22, 2019 at 1:13 pm
    Rugby player are just as athletic and don’t wear helmets, yet they don’t have so many issues with this garbage.-

    Football is not a contact sport, it’s a collision sport. Rugby is not. Can’t compare the two. You don”t see rugby players with an entire extra person hanging over their belt.

  45. Both drills are useless – archaic and the bull ring is only used as punishment. One on one tackling drills are much better.

  46. I hope the FOX Sunday robot was foreshadowing. I’m very much looking forward to engineers and technicians controlling robotic players so I don’t have to listen to what rule has been changed, which player was just arrested, or what the NFLPA is crying about today.

  47. Yet there will be those yahoo’s running both drills at pee wee football practices across the country because they love them some contact and to “weed” the weak from the strong. Sadly.

  48. I remember the “clock drill” one person in the middle…..twelve forming a ring outside…each outside member representing a number on the clock….a coach would yell out a number and that player got a head start to crush the guy in the middle (who had to figure out who was coming in an instant)…looking back I wonder if it helped make us tougher or just helped coaches satisfy their sadistic sides…good times

  49. So if you eliminate drills intended to get players ready for contact after a long break, how do players get ready for contact? I feel like this is just going to result in even more injuries once the season starts.

  50. For many years, the Jaguars would close out the first day of full padded practice in training camp with the Oklahoma. It was a fan favorite and thousands watched. That is, until the rookie first round pick Tyson Alualu tore his knee and was basically out the first season. That put the kibosh on OK real quick

  51. I played FB/LB from the 6th grade to college. I can’t tell you how many times my “Bell was rung” in the above mentioned drills, but it was a lot.. Anybody know where I put my Car Keys?

  52. GREAT !! Those 2 things are completely worthless as far as learning the game of football

  53. NFL players today can’t block and they can’t tackle. They are athletes but lack fundamental football skills. The NFLPA wants to eliminate any practice that is difficult. Players are lazy. NFL Football is not nearly as good as it used to be and the fans are turning it off.

  54. You either are a hitter or you aren’t. Drills don’t make kids tougher…toughness for this sports is innate. I was a HS AT for almost 20 years…kids are either tough and have a passion for drilling their fellow man or they don’t. Those that have the desire to really hit…it’s just wasted game reps. You only got so many hits in you…why waste them?

    As for the game? If they officiate EVERY game like this past Superbowl (where outside of the make up call on Roby-Coleman..and we can live with 1 mistake right?) They let them hit the hell out of each other and 99% of it was clean as a whistle. That game was as physical as any I’ve seen in a long time. That’s a good bar to set right there IMO.

    But making kids who have little love for contact, let alone collisions hit over and over and over in an effort to bring out something that’s not there…it’s just stupid.

  55. imodanisback says:
    May 22, 2019 at 2:12 pm
    Yet there will be those yahoo’s running both drills at pee wee football practices across the country because they love them some contact and to “weed” the weak from the strong. Sadly.
    ************************

    As a youth football coach, I can say that I’m one of these “yahoos” who will be running tackling drills similar to Oklahoma – because all of the technique taught on the tackling wheels and Shadowman dummies does no good if you don’t also have at least SOME live tackling – because live tackling helps both the tackler and the kid who’s being tackled learn how to take a hit and go to the ground.

    Also, if a youth program does NO live tackling in practice and plays a team that does at least some live tackling, I can pretty much guarantee you who’s going to win a game between the two.

  56. Marcus Jones says:
    May 23, 2019 at 8:34 am
    NFL players today can’t block and they can’t tackle. They are athletes but lack fundamental football skills. The NFLPA wants to eliminate any practice that is difficult. Players are lazy. NFL Football is not nearly as good as it used to be and the fans are turning it off.
    ——————————————————————————————–

    You do understand the Oklahoma drill was one of the easiest drills ever and some coaches used it as a way to reward players? Nothing difficult about the Oklahoma drill, you may not have ever played football.

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