The Oklahoma Drill In Football Explained

Written By: Chris Haddad
Updated: February 12, 2024

The Oklahoma drill is a popular drill with many variations. The Oklahoma drill is often used for players to practice tackling.

The Oklahoma drill in football is a contact drill that has 1 ball carrier and 1 defensive player against each other. The goal is for the defensive players to tackle the offensive player running the football.

In this article, we will show you what the Oklahoma drill is in football and its different variations.

What Is The Oklahoma Drill In Football?

The term Oklahoma drill relates to a football tackling drill. This drill is common among football teams who just put pads on for the first time. The Oklahoma drill can be seen in high school football practices as well as training camps for youth football players.

The goal of the Oklahoma Drills is simple, make the tackler miss and get past the goal line. Football coaches for decades have been running the Oklahoma drill, but it wasn’t until lately, we started to see variations of the drill.

Oklahoma Drill in football

For example, the Oklahoma drill in football sometimes has an offensive line against a defensive line, 1 running back vs. 1 linebacker, and much more combinations.

To set up the drill, coaches will create confined situations with blocking bags outlining the area of play. They are typically nine feet or 3 yards apart from each other when the play starts.

The players are lined up against each other and will get in their ready positions. Coaches can use different variations (in the number of players used), but the concept is still the same; tackle the running back.

When the coach blows the whistle or the quarterback says “Go,” the drill begins.

The running back will pick a side to run, or the coach will designate a side for the player to run. Once the player starts to move, the defensive lineman and the linebacker will attack the running back and tackle him. It’s the job of the offensive lineman to block the defensive lineman.

The linebacker’s job is to get past both players and get to the running back before he gets past everyone else.

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Why Do Football Coaches Run The Oklahoma Drill?

The Oklahoma drill is used during practice to teach football tackling techniques such as: tackling on the move, penetration, hitting low, hitting high, hitting with your head up, etc.

The Oklahoma drill in football is to practice the correct technique for tackling, and how to tackle properly so as not to injure yourself or others. There are a variety of drills that can be used for this purpose.

oklahoma drill

However, the drill has gotten a lot of criticism over the years. The Oklahoma Drill is banned in most youth, high school, college, and NFL leagues.

The amount of head injuries that came from the high impact nature of the drill, got the attention of medical professionals. Youth football players who engaged in full contact practice started to see a higher risk of injury if they were nine feet or greater away.

This drill should be monitored by the coaching staff as closely as possible. Big collisions often happen in the Oklahoma drill, which gets teammates excited. However, the goal of the Oklahoma drill is to put players in live tackling situations without risking injury.

Football coaches need to keep in mind that this drill teaches players how to give and absorb contact properly.

Big hits, lousy technique, and poor tackling are not why the Oklahoma drill should be done. If the players start to develop bad habits in this drill, there’s a good chance that they will carry on to the field during the game.

Dangers To Youth Football Players

The Oklahoma drill is widely criticized because of its high injury rate and high rate of contact. If teams decide to do a 2v2 setup, there will be contact between the linebacker and running back 99% of the time.

This means the defensive player has a free shot at the running back, who needs to protect themselves when taking a hit.

Injuries will occur if the player not used to giving or absorbing contact tries to go full speed in this drill.

Oklahoma Drill

We recommend doing this drill after all players feel comfortable tackling and absorbing contact. If a player is new to football, we recommend they don’t do this drill, as it could scare them away due to its high intensity and contact.

The Oklahoma drill in football is very physical and can get out of control if not controlled correctly. This drill can often result in injuries.

Players try to go all out during this drill and often lose their balance, resulting in tackles that are not controlled well or overpowered by one player who is faster or bigger than another player.

Is The Oklahoma Drill Illegal?

In some states, the Oklahoma drill is banned. Players cannot run variations of this drill due to the high contact that comes from it. State legislation has ruled this drill to be too risky for players to take part in.

Coaches have found other ways to make drills more game-like and better suited for newer players. This doesn’t mean the concept of the Oklahoma drill has faded away.

Coaches have created ways to use Oklahoma drill concepts still but from space. This makes the game safer and reduces the injuries that a play may occur from the depth.

Football Game Tackling Drills

Teams have created different names for a new style of Oklahoma drills, often using cones and spacing to distance players. This helps them practice tackling in noncontact drills. In our opinion, this is the best way to practice leverage and tackling during training camp.

This type of Oklahoma drill is often called “Millenial Oklahoma.” This type of Oklahoma drill allows players to defeat blocks without having a free linebacker tackle the running back.

It also gives obstacles for the running back to dodge. This creates a game scenario for all of the players involved. It also reduces the risk of injury because of all the players that are spaced out.

This layered Oklahoma Drill is great because it is closely related to a game (shedding blocks and making a tackle), allows for offensive players to make defensive players miss, and allows football coaches to evaluate players on who can tackle.

Keep Learning

Every team practices a version of the Oklahoma Drill. The old school, 1 vs 1 Oklahoma Drill is banned in most states, as it did more harm to the football player than good.

Player safety is at the forefront of every American football practice. If a team practices the Oklahoma Drill for 30 minutes, they could be using that time to develop other skills. Former players may like the Oklahoma Drill, but in the end, it’s about keeping players healthy and on the field during practice.

The Oklahoma drill is highly controversial, and many will be wary of it. The drill is meant to teach players how to tackle properly, but the injury rate can be quite high because of its high intensity and contact.

The Oklahoma drill is not recommended for newer players, as it can scare them away from playing due to the injuries that are likely to occur.

We recommend using drills similar to the Oklahoma drill but eliminating contact or minimizing contact between players if possible. This will allow players to develop their technique and not worry about getting injured as often.

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About the author 

Chris Haddad

Chris Haddad is the founder of vIQtory Sports & high school coach for over 12+ years. He has been featured as an authority on Hudl, Bleacher Report and countless other football-centric platforms. Chris continues to study and provide valuable content for those looking to learn more about the game of football.