What is the Oklahoma Drill? Unveiling the Controversy!

What is the Oklahoma Drill? Unveiling the Controversy!

Did you know that the Oklahoma Drill is one of the most intense and physically demanding full contact practice drills in football training for the sooners? It simulates full contact situations and is a crucial part of sports training. Named after the University of Oklahoma‘s football team, the Sooners, this contact drill is a crucial part of their training camp. It tests players’ skills, technique, and toughness, providing valuable insights to the football coaches during team practices. In youth football, it’s a full contact situation where linebackers tackle offensive linemen and defensive linemen, trying to gain ground and push their opponents back.

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The Oklahoma Drill, a full contact exercise, is often used by the Sooners’ head coach in preseason practices to evaluate players’ physicality and mental fortitude in tackling. With whistles blowing and dummies scattered on the ground, it’s a celebration of hard hits and relentless effort for youth football players. The tackle skills and determination of these offensive players are reminiscent of the sooners. This drill has become synonymous with tackling, coaching, running, and line play in football culture.

So, if you’re looking for a drill that separates the tough from the rest, look no further than the Wilkinson and Bell back line.

Definition and significance of the Oklahoma Drill in football training

The Oklahoma Drill is a high-intensity football training drill that focuses on player development, particularly in the areas of blocking, tackling, running, and line skills. The drill helps players improve their running technique, while also honing their ability to block and tackle effectively. It is known for its intense nature, with players often going head-to-head in a bell-ringing battle of strength and skill. This running drill is widely used at all levels of football and holds great significance in building teamwork and competitiveness among players. It helps players improve their speed and endurance while also honing their skills on the line of scrimmage. The bell signals the start and end of each repetition, keeping the players focused and motivated throughout the drill.

High-Intensity Drill for Player Development

The Oklahoma Drill is known for its intense nature, pushing bell carriers to their limits both physically and mentally. It involves a one-on-one or two-on-two confrontation between offensive and defensive players within a confined space, with the ball carrier being the central focus. The objective is to simulate real-game scenarios where ball carriers must rely on their technique, strength, agility, and bell to succeed.

This drill is designed to improve fundamental football skills such as footwork, hand placement, leverage, tackling form, and the sound of the bell. By repeatedly engaging in these high-intensity bell situations during practice sessions, players become better equipped to handle similar challenges during actual games.

Emphasizes Blocking and Tackling Skills

One of the primary focuses of the Oklahoma Drill is enhancing blocking, tackling, and bell abilities. It allows offensive linemen to work on their blocking techniques against defensive linemen or linebackers, using a bell. They learn how to maintain proper leverage, use their hands effectively, and drive their opponents off the line of scrimmage with a bell.

On the defensive side, this drill helps players develop solid tackling skills by teaching them proper body positioning, wrapping up opponents securely, and driving through with power. It emphasizes the importance of form tackling while minimizing the risk of injury.

Builds Teamwork and Competitiveness

The Oklahoma Drill fosters a sense of camaraderie among teammates as they face off against each other in a competitive environment. The intensity of this drill brings out the best in players as they strive to outperform one another. It creates an atmosphere that pushes individuals to give their all while also encouraging teamwork.

Through repetitive engagement in this challenging drill together, teammates develop trust in each other’s abilities and rely on one another for support. They learn to communicate effectively, coordinate their efforts, and work as a cohesive unit.

Commonly Used at All Levels of Football

The Oklahoma Drill is not exclusive to any particular level of football. It is widely implemented in high school, college, and professional football programs. Coaches recognize the drill’s effectiveness in developing essential skills and instilling a competitive mindset in players.

At the youth level, modified versions of the Oklahoma Drill are often used to ensure player safety while still providing valuable training opportunities. The drill’s adaptability makes it suitable for all age groups and skill levels, allowing coaches to tailor it according to their team’s needs.

Controversy surrounding the Oklahoma Drill: Should it be banned?

Safety Concerns Raised by Medical Professionals

The Oklahoma Drill has long been a staple in football training, but it is not without its fair share of controversy. One of the main concerns raised by medical professionals is the potential for injuries, particularly head injuries and concussions. The drill involves two players engaging in full-contact combat, often resulting in violent collisions. This high-impact nature increases the risk of head trauma, which can have serious long-term consequences for players.

While football is inherently a physical sport, critics argue that the Oklahoma Drill takes it to an extreme level that may put players’ safety at unnecessary risk. Medical studies have shown a direct link between repetitive head impacts and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease commonly found in athletes. Given this evidence, many experts believe that steps need to be taken to minimize these risks and protect the well-being of football players.

Potential for Head Injuries and Concussions

Head injuries are a significant concern. The drill’s design encourages aggressive tackling and blocking techniques, often leading to forceful collisions between players. These intense impacts can result in concussions or other traumatic brain injuries that can have severe short-term and long-term effects on players’ health.

Concussions are particularly worrisome due to their potential long-lasting consequences. They can lead to cognitive impairments, memory loss, mood disorders, and even increased susceptibility to future concussions. With growing awareness about the dangers of concussions in contact sports like football, there is an increasing push for safer training methods that prioritize player safety while still promoting skill development.

Promotion of Unnecessary Violence

Another point of contention surrounding the Oklahoma Drill is whether it promotes unnecessary violence on the field. Critics argue that this drill glorifies aggression and encourages players to engage in overly physical behavior. They believe that this emphasis on violence can lead to a more combative playing style and increase the likelihood of injuries.

On the other hand, proponents of the Oklahoma Drill argue that it builds mental toughness, fosters teamwork, and prepares players for the physical demands of the game. They contend that football is inherently a contact sport, and these drills simulate game-like situations where players must learn to withstand pressure and deliver powerful hits. However, it is essential to strike a balance between developing necessary skills and ensuring player safety.

Calls for Alternative, Safer Training Methods

Given the concerns surrounding player safety in the Oklahoma Drill, there have been calls for alternative training methods that prioritize both skill development and injury prevention. Coaches and medical professionals are exploring various approaches to maintain the physicality of football while reducing unnecessary risks.

Some potential alternatives include:

  • Modified versions of the Oklahoma Drill: Implementing rule changes or equipment modifications to reduce direct head-to-head contact.
  • Focus on technique: Emphasizing proper tackling form and safe blocking techniques during practice sessions.
  • Controlled scrimmages: Creating controlled environments where players can practice at game speed but with reduced risk of injury.
  • Increased use of technology: Utilizing virtual reality simulations or robotic tackling dummies to replicate game situations without exposing players to unnecessary risks.

By exploring these alternative methods, coaches can strike a balance between creating a competitive environment while also prioritizing player safety.

Impact of the Oklahoma Drill on player development and safety

The Oklahoma Drill, renowned for its intensity and physicality, has a significant impact on player development and safety. Let’s delve into how this drill enhances players’ technique and physicality while also considering the potential risks it poses.

Enhances players’ technique and physicality

The Oklahoma Drill is designed to simulate real-game scenarios with full contact between offensive and defensive players. This drill focuses on developing fundamental skills such as blocking, tackling, footwork, and hand placement. By engaging in this intense drill, players are forced to hone their technique under pressure, improving their overall performance on the field.


  • Provides a realistic environment for players to practice essential skills.
  • Builds mental toughness by exposing players to high-pressure situations.
  • Enhances physical strength and endurance through rigorous contact.

Can lead to increased risk of injuries, especially head trauma

While the Oklahoma Drill offers numerous benefits, it also carries inherent risks. The nature of full-contact drills increases the likelihood of injuries occurring, particularly head trauma. With both offensive and defensive players engaging in forceful collisions repeatedly, there is an elevated risk of concussions or other head-related injuries.


  • High potential for head injuries due to repetitive impacts.
  • Increased risk of sprains, strains, or fractures from intense physical contact.
  • Possibility of long-term health consequences for former players who have experienced repeated head trauma.

Balancing skill development with safety is crucial

As coaches prioritize player development through intensive drills like the Oklahoma Drill, it becomes vital to strike a balance between skill enhancement and player safety. While pushing athletes to their limits can yield positive results in terms of technique and physicality, it should not come at the expense of their well-being.

Key Points:

  • Coaches must ensure proper training techniques are implemented during the drill.
  • Regular monitoring of players’ health is necessary to identify any signs of injury.
  • Incorporating rest periods and recovery strategies can mitigate the risk of overexertion.

Coaches must prioritize player well-being

In light of the potential risks associated with the Oklahoma Drill, coaches have a crucial role in safeguarding their players’ well-being. It is essential for coaches to adopt a comprehensive approach that balances skill development with safety measures, ensuring that players are adequately prepared while minimizing unnecessary harm.

Tips for Coaches:

  1. Implement proper tackling and blocking techniques to reduce the risk of injuries.
  2. Educate players about concussion symptoms and emphasize reporting any signs of head trauma.
  3. Provide adequate equipment, including helmets and padding, to enhance player safety.

By prioritizing player well-being, coaches can create an environment where athletes can develop their skills while minimizing unnecessary risks.

Coaches’ opinions on banning the Oklahoma Drill

Defending the Effectiveness of Building Toughness

Some football coaches staunchly defend the Oklahoma Drill, arguing that it is an effective tool for building toughness and mental resilience in players. They believe that this intense drill helps players develop a competitive mindset and prepares them to face physical challenges on the field. These coaches argue that removing the Oklahoma Drill from training would result in a decline in player toughness and a lack of preparation for game situations.

Advocating Modifications Despite Potential Risks

On the other hand, some coaches acknowledge the potential risks associated with the Oklahoma Drill but advocate for modifications rather than an outright ban. They recognize that while physicality is an essential aspect of football, safety should always be a top priority. These coaches propose implementing rule changes or alterations to make the drill safer while still maintaining its effectiveness. For example, they may suggest limiting contact or using tackling dummies instead of live opponents during certain aspects of the drill.

Supporting a Complete Ban Due to Safety Concerns

In contrast, there are a few coaches who support a complete ban on the Oklahoma Drill due to significant safety concerns. They argue that football has evolved over time to prioritize player safety and reducing unnecessary contact during practice sessions can help prevent injuries. These coaches believe that there are alternative methods to build toughness and team cohesion without subjecting players to potentially harmful collisions.

Opinions Vary Based on Coaching Philosophy

The opinions surrounding banning or modifying the Oklahoma Drill largely depend on each coach’s individual coaching philosophy. Some coaches emphasize discipline and physicality as crucial components of their coaching style, viewing the drill as an integral part of player development. Others prioritize player safety above all else and seek alternative methods to instill toughness in their athletes.

It’s important to note that these opinions are not mutually exclusive, and many coaches fall somewhere along a spectrum between advocating for modifications and supporting a complete ban. The decision ultimately lies with the head coach and coaching staff, who must weigh the potential benefits against the risks associated with the Oklahoma Drill.

Alternatives to the Oklahoma Drill for safer training methods

To ensure safer training methods and reduce the risk of injuries, coaches can consider incorporating alternative drills that focus on technique, controlled contact, progressive skill-building activities, and emphasizing proper form and fundamentals.

Focus on Technique-Based Drills Instead

Rather than relying solely on high-intensity contact drills like the Oklahoma Drill, coaches can shift their focus towards technique-based drills. These drills prioritize teaching players proper form, footwork, and positioning. By emphasizing technique over physicality, coaches can help players develop fundamental skills while minimizing unnecessary risks.

Some examples of technique-based drills include:

  • Footwork Drills: These drills concentrate on improving agility, lateral movement, and quickness. They help players develop better body control and coordination while reducing the chances of collisions or injuries.
  • Fundamental Skill Drills: Coaches can design specific exercises that target essential skills such as tackling technique or blocking techniques. By breaking down these skills into smaller components and practicing them in a controlled environment, players can refine their techniques without excessive physical contact.

Incorporate More Controlled Contact Exercises

While it’s important to limit full-contact drills to reduce injury risks, controlled contact exercises can still provide valuable training opportunities. These exercises allow players to experience some level of physicality while maintaining a safer environment.

Some examples of controlled contact exercises include:

  • Thud/Tag Drills: Instead of full tackling or blocking scenarios, coaches can introduce “thud” or “tag” variations where players make initial contact but avoid taking each other to the ground. This allows for some physical engagement while minimizing potential harm.
  • Wrap-Up Tackling Drills: Coaches can emphasize proper wrapping-up techniques during tackling practice sessions. By focusing on wrapping up opponents securely rather than forcefully driving them into the ground, the risk of severe injuries decreases significantly.

Implement Progressive Skill-Building Activities

To ensure player development and safety, coaches can implement progressive skill-building activities. These activities gradually increase the level of difficulty and physicality as players gain experience and confidence.

Some examples of progressive skill-building activities include:

  1. Progressive Contact Drills: Coaches can design drills that gradually escalate in intensity, starting with low-contact scenarios and gradually building up to full-contact situations. This progressive approach allows players to acclimate to physicality while reducing the risk of sudden high-impact collisions.
  2. Simulation Exercises: Coaches can create game-like scenarios where players practice their skills against simulated opponents or situations. This enables players to develop decision-making abilities, spatial awareness, and technique without subjecting them to unnecessary risks.

Emphasize Proper Form and Fundamentals

One key aspect of safer training methods is emphasizing proper form and fundamentals throughout all drills and exercises. By focusing on technique rather than sheer force, coaches can help reduce the likelihood of injuries.

Coaches should prioritize teaching:

  • Body Mechanics: Educating players about maintaining a strong athletic stance, correct posture, and body alignment helps minimize vulnerability during physical contact.
  • Head-Up Tackling: Encouraging players to keep their heads up during tackles reduces the risk of head or neck injuries.
  • Safe Blocking Techniques: Teaching offensive linemen proper hand placement, leverage techniques, and footwork promotes effective blocking while reducing unnecessary risks.

By implementing these alternatives to the Oklahoma Drill, coaches can provide a safer training environment for their athletes while still developing essential skills required for success on the field.

Importance of safe training amidst distractions in football

In the fast-paced and physically demanding sport of football, ensuring the safety and well-being of youth players is paramount. One training method that has garnered attention is the Oklahoma Drill. However, it is crucial to consider the potential risks associated with this drill and prioritize safe training practices amidst distractions.

Ensures Long-Term Player Health and Well-Being

Player safety should always be the top priority in football. Implementing safe training methods, especially for youth football players, can significantly reduce the risk of injuries that could have long-term effects on their health and well-being. Full-contact practices like the Oklahoma Drill can expose players to unnecessary physicality, increasing their susceptibility to concussions, head injuries, and other serious concerns.

Reduces Risk of Career-Ending Injuries

Football players aspire to have successful careers in this highly competitive sport. However, participating in drills like the Oklahoma Drill without proper precautions can lead to career-ending injuries. By prioritizing safe training practices that minimize unnecessary risks during team practices or training camps, coaches can help protect their athletes from sustaining severe injuries that could prematurely end their football journey.

Helps Athletes Stay Focused During Games

One often overlooked aspect of safe training amidst distractions is its impact on an athlete’s ability to stay focused during games. By incorporating alternative drills that emphasize technique over brute force, coaches can develop players who are not only physically strong but also mentally sharp. This focus translates into improved performance on the field as athletes learn how to react quickly and make split-second decisions without being overwhelmed by external factors.

Creates a Positive Culture Within Teams

Safe training methods promote a positive culture within teams by fostering trust among teammates and instilling a sense of camaraderie. When players feel secure knowing that their well-being is valued by coaches and staff members, they are more likely to work together cohesively towards a common goal. This positive team culture enhances communication, cooperation, and ultimately leads to a more enjoyable football experience for everyone involved.

Understanding and evaluating the Oklahoma Drill’s place in football training

In conclusion, it is clear that the Oklahoma Drill has long been a staple in football training, known for its intensity and ability to test players’ physicality and mental toughness. However, as we have explored in this blog post, there is growing controversy surrounding its use due to concerns about player safety. While some coaches argue for its continued inclusion, others advocate for alternatives that prioritize both skill development and injury prevention.

As a football enthusiast, it is important for you to consider the potential risks associated with the Oklahoma Drill. While it may be tempting to embrace the tradition and grit associated with this drill, we must also prioritize the well-being of our athletes. By exploring alternative training methods that provide a safer environment without compromising skill development, we can ensure that players are able to reach their full potential while minimizing unnecessary risks.


What are some safer alternatives to the Oklahoma Drill?

There are several safer alternatives to the Oklahoma Drill that can still help develop key skills required in football. One option is using controlled scrimmage drills where players can practice their techniques against each other without excessive force or unnecessary risk of injury. Another alternative is utilizing tackling dummies or sleds for practicing blocking and tackling techniques.

Can removing the Oklahoma Drill from training impact player performance?

While removing the Oklahoma Drill may change certain aspects of training, it does not necessarily mean a negative impact on player performance. In fact, by implementing safer alternatives and focusing on proper technique rather than sheer physicality, players can develop skills more effectively while reducing the risk of injuries.

How can coaches ensure safe training amidst distractions in football?

Coaches play a crucial role in ensuring safe training amidst distractions in football. They should prioritize educating players about proper technique and safety measures during drills and emphasize communication between teammates to avoid unnecessary collisions. Coaches should closely monitor practices and intervene if they observe any unsafe behavior or techniques.

Are there any studies supporting the ban of the Oklahoma Drill?

While there is ongoing debate surrounding the Oklahoma Drill, several studies have highlighted its potential risks and negative impact on player safety. These studies have raised concerns about the increased risk of head injuries and long-term health implications associated with repetitive high-intensity collisions. However, more research is needed to fully understand the extent of these risks.

How can players voice their concerns about unsafe training methods?

Players should feel empowered to voice their concerns about unsafe training methods to their coaches or team management. They can initiate conversations about alternative drills or suggest modifications to existing ones that prioritize safety without compromising skill development. Open communication between players and coaching staff is essential for creating a safe and productive training environment.

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