I have always said that really good NFL coaches make average players good, and good players great.
Well, Vikings running back coach Eric Bieniemy might help Adrian Peterson take his game from good to great.
After spending time with both Bieniemy and Peterson in Minnesota last week (you can see some of the video to the right) it became clear that the coach has some answers for Peterson’s penchant to fumble the football. Careful film study revealed the majority of Peterson’s fumbles came while he was on his way to the ground, mainly because he refused to surrender when being tackled.
I watched Peterson run through drills using a 14-pound football filled with sand. Weighted balls are often used to increase muscle memory at all three pressure points — the hand that covers the point of the ball, the opposite end of the ball under the elbow, and the top of the ball against the chest — for greater ball security.
It’s impossible to maintain possession of a heavy football if it’s held out and away from the body. The goal is to train the muscles to remember all three pressure points, so that eventually it’s naturally kept high and tight.
Bieniemy also uses a drill where the ball is attached to a rope. While the running back has one hand on the ball the other hand is on the ground — to secure balance — the coach simultaneously tugs on the rope to force the player to remain cognizant of ball security throughout the final phase of a play. This especially comes into play late in games when fatigue becomes a factor.
As Peterson becomes a more patient runner, the techniques implemented by his talented position coach should help him reclaim his throne as the league’s best ball carrier.