How to Teach the Stiff Arm

A 4-yard gain can turn into a 50-yard touchdown if a stiff arm is properly used.

In fact, the stiff arm is one of the offensive player's most valuable weapons. If properly taught, it can effectively prevent a tackler from getting anywhere near the ball-carrier and bringing him down.

To start teaching the stiff arm to youth football players, use a bag or tackling dummy to practice on. When runners show they have mastered the mechanics of the stiff arm, replace the bag with a live tackler and run the drill with full contact or thud mode.

Here is the diagram of a drill provided by the Youth Football Coaches Association that is great at teaching stiff arms in practice. All you need is two cones, a tackler and a ball-carrier to work on proper stiff arms:



Depending on what part of the body the tackler has exposed to the runner, the ideal aiming ponts for the stiff arm are:
  1. Top of the helmet (not the facemask)
  2. Top of the shoulder plate
  3. Chest plate

For a printable .pdf of this drill and others, visit the YFBCA website.


The founder of Youth Football Coaches Association and current director is Joe Bouffard. Bouffard, affectionately known as Coach Bouf, is a veteran of 16 years of coaching experience at various levels that include youth, high school and college. While at New Canaan High School in Connecticut, Coach Bouf employed a passing attack offense that has led to 2007 and 2008 Class MM State Championships. Currently, Coach Bouf serves as offensive coordinator at Fairfield Warde High School in Connecticut.

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