Football Coaching Tools: Teaching the Breakdown Stance

Show your players the four keys to a successful breakdown stance with these steps.

Football is an intense, aggressive sport. In order to help keep your athletes safe on the field, fundamentals need to be at the foundation of the game. The breakdown stance is a great example of this.

Not only does the breakdown stance set up players to make reads and execute plays, it also keeps them safe by having their heads up and their bodies in a position ready to withstand contact.

Chris Merritt, Master trainer and founding member at Heads Up Football, emphasized the four steps that coaches can use to help teach players how to get into the proper breakdown stance.


To begin the process of getting into a breakdown position, the first command you’ll say is “Feet.” When prompted, the players will lift their feet up and place them back down shoulder-width apart, right in line with their armpits. Their toes should be facing forward.


Next comes the “Squeeze” command.

“We want to “squeeze” the shoulder blades together to spread that chest nice and wide,” Merritt said, adding that spreading the chest can help keep the player’s head up and widen their profile — both key components of an efficient football stance.


The third command will be to direct your players to “Sink.” Have them drop down with a bit of a forward lean to get their knees over their toes and shoulders over their knees. While they sit themselves into this position, remind them to keep their shoulder blades squeezed and their backs angled at 45 degrees. This will help them maintain a “good, football-ready position,” according to Merritt.


The final order you’ll deliver is “Hands.” In a seated posture, have your players raise their hands into a good, ready position so that they can react and respond to whatever the game throws at them.

This easy-to-remember progression can help get your players in a ready stance. Incorporate these four steps at your next practice and help set your team up for success.