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Vision and Patience: Finding the Running Lanes

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Vision and Patience: Finding the Running Lanes

As a running back, vision and patience are your bread and butter. Without these skills, even the most physically gifted players can struggle to find success on the field. In this article, we'll delve into advanced techniques that can help you improve your vision and patience, allowing you to read blocks and anticipate openings like a pro.

Key Aspects of Vision and Patience

Reading BlocksUnderstanding how your blockers create lanes and knowing when to hit the gap.Watch film, pay attention to your blockers in practice, and sync up with your offensive line.
Anticipating OpeningsKnowing when a hole will open in the defense and positioning yourself to exploit it.Use your peripheral vision and trust your instincts—these moments often happen in split seconds.
Field AwarenessKeeping track of defenders and reading their intentions to avoid getting tackled.Scan the field constantly, maintain a low center of gravity, and be ready to change directions on a dime.
Patience with the PlayWaiting for the right moment to act, rather than rushing into a closed lane or defender.Trust the play design, stay calm, and wait for the blocks to develop before making your move.
Footwork and AgilityUsing your feet to position yourself advantageously and navigate through tight spaces.Practice ladder drills, cone drills, and other agility exercises to improve your footwork and quickness.

Detailed Techniques

Reading Blocks

Reading blocks isn't just about seeing where the blocks are happening. It's about anticipating where and how your blockers will create lanes.

  • Watch Film: Study game footage to understand blocking schemes.
  • Practice Synchronization: Work with your offensive line during practice to get a feel for their habits.
  • Communication: Engage with your offensive line consistently; understand their tendencies and preferences.

Anticipating Openings

Anticipating openings goes beyond seeing the immediate gap. It involves predicting defensive movements and plotting your course in response.

  • Peripheral Vision: Use your side vision to monitor the defensive setup.
  • Instinctive Running: Trust your gut feeling—often, instinctual decisions yield the best results.
  • Set Up Move: Sometimes, a subtle change in speed or direction can set up bigger plays down the field.

Field Awareness

Field awareness is all about spatial intelligence. Knowing where everyone is on the field and what their intentions are will dramatically improve your running game.

  • 360-Degree Scanning: Always keep your head on a swivel, even when carrying the ball.
  • Pre-Snap Reads: Before the ball is snapped, read the defensive formation and anticipate their moves.
  • Body Position: Maintain a low center of gravity to quickly adjust and change directions.

Patience with the Play

Rushing can lead to missed opportunities or disastrous plays. Patience is the key to opening up the field.

  • Trust the Process: Understand that sometimes the best opportunities come from waiting just a split second longer.
  • Stay Calm: Even if the defense seems to be closing in, keep your cool and follow the designed play.

Footwork and Agility

Proper footwork can mean the difference between gaining substantial yardage and getting stopped at the line.

  • Ladder Drills: Incorporate agility ladder drills to enhance foot speed and coordination.
  • Cone Drills: Use cone drills to practice sharp cuts and rapid changes in direction.
  • Balance Work: Include balance exercises to stabilize your movements during quick cuts.


Mastering vision and patience as a running back is not just about natural talent; it's about dedicated practice, understanding your teammates, and having the mental fortitude to wait for the perfect moment. By integrating these techniques into your training regimen, you can enhance your ability to read blocks and anticipate openings, ultimately paving your way to becoming a more effective and dynamic running back.

Have any additional tips, tricks, or experiences to share? Drop them in the comments below!