Now that NFL training camps have begun, fans across the country will take advantage of the opportunity to see their favorite teams in action. It's been a long, drawn-out offseason, and there's finally some football on the horizon.
For the lucky fans who do get to attend these camps, there's one drill that's used by every football team, from Pop Warner all the way to the NFL. It's something you'll undoubtedly see when you check out any training camp.
It's simply known as "7-on-7."
This is a quarterback's passing drill that's primarily focused on the wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. It's called 7-on-7 because there are just seven players on the field. It's normally run without pads and is a good way to quickly run through the passing plays for an offense.
The drill takes the majority of the "beef" out of the equation, meaning defensive linemen and most of the offensive linemen are not a big part of the seven, although a center and guard are sometimes present as two of the players.
There are many variations to the drill with personnel, but the primary focus is to go through passing plays and work on the timing and route combinations with backs and receivers.
Defenses normally set up with three linebackers, two cornerbacks and two safeties, but obviously this can change as well.
This diagram with plays from PlaybookWizard.com shows us a few different plays for a 7-on-7 drill, both on offense and defense.
The top two plays are defenses commonly run in 7-on-7 drills at lower levels of football. The first is a Cover 2 zone, while the second is a Cover 1, or single high safety, with man coverage underneath.
The offensive plays below show the route combinations being run by each of the eligible receivers.
Obviously, NFL teams are going to have more complicated offensive and defensive schemes they'll run during these drills than you see in these few pictures.
This non-contact drill is the best way for the offensive passing game to go up against live athletes without too much contact. It's often hand-touch, and this allows the players to get more reps, as they're not taking huge hits and putting even bigger tolls on their bodies.
Seven-on-seven is always one of the more popular drills for fans to watch at training camps. All eyes want to be on quarterbacks throwing the football. This drill is exactly that, and it plays to what the majority of fans want to see.
There are probably some grunts out there who like watching the defensive linemen push the sled or offensive linemen work on their hand positioning, but taking the skill players and allowing their athleticism to shine in a non-contact drill is an easy watch for fans of all levels and ages.
Because they can get so many reps due to the non-contact aspect of the drill, it's easy to throw new guys into the mix quickly and see if they can hold their own. You can easily throw a new quarterback into the drill—or a wide receiver—and see how the timing or chemistry changes from one play to the next.
So if you're headed out to a training camp over the next few weeks, be sure to look for the area where the skill position players are working in 7-on-7 drills. It's the most concentrated area of athleticism and playmaking you'll see all throughout camp.