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How to Block in Football

How To Be a Good Blocker In Football

For youth football players, learning how to block is one of the most difficult tasks in football. If you practice the following techniques and maintain what you learn during your football games, you should become a better blocker and be a major asset for your offense.

1. Master the Three-Point Stance

“Three-point stance” refers to the fact that three parts of your body are touching the ground: your feet and one hand. Therefore, a 3-point stance is simply a stance where you begin with one hand touching the ground. This allows you to get into a crouch to give you a low center of gravity, explode out of the stance at the beginning of the play and block the defender by using leverage, speed and strength.

Imagine a 3-point stance as somewhat like a sprinter preparing to break out of the gates. You want a quick start, so you can get to the point of attack quicker than your opponent on defense. At the same time, you aren’t sprinting, but quickly running into another person, so you want to “get under” that person and have a lower center of gravity than them. If you can beat the defender to the punch and strike them in the chest from a lower center of gravity, you can neutralize them for that play and “knock them off the ball”, which is another way of saying you will push them off the line of scrimmage.

Because you know the snap count and the defensive player doesn’t, the advantage theoretically goes to the offensive lineman. To master a three-point stance, though, you’ll need to have good football, good reflexes and good balance.

2. Burst Forward

To burst forward, maintain your low center of gravity. The most common mistake with young offensive linemen is to come out of their stance and stand straight up, which entirely neutralizes the reason you get into a three-point stance. Remember to stay low to the ground.

As you move forward, let your arms come up to your chest, preparing for the collision that’s to come. A blocker wants to explode into the chest and body of the defender, putting your hands on the torso region of the opponent. This should knock them off-balance, while getting your hands and body on them should allow you to control their movement. In this way, you can push them in the direction you want them to go.

Most running plays call for a “hole” to be opened in the line. That is, one lineman will try to block to the right, while another lineman will try to block to the left. In between these two blocks is where the hole is, and where the runner optimally will be able to run. If both of these blockers can knock their defender off balance and control their movement away from the hole in either direction, the runner should have a defined spot of the field in which to run.

There’s more to it than this. Traditionally, since a linebacker is likely to move towards the ball and fill the hole, a fullback leads the halfback into the hole, blocking that linebacker. If he does this, the runner should have some room to run. Occasionally, another linebacker or safety will also step into the hole. In this case, it’s up to the ball carrier to gain extra yardage by either evading the tackle or running through the tackle, depending on their style of running. But the blocker has done his part.

Of course, there are occasions when the offense runs a sweep and therefore the whole line blocks in one direction. If your offensive unit runs a sweep right, the traditional blocking scheme is for all the offensive lineman and the tight tend to “block down”, ie blocking their opponents to the left.

3. Footwork is Essential

Footwork cannot be overrated for an offensive lineman. Footwork not only involves closing the distance between yourself and the defender, it involves maintain a good center of gravity while doing so. If you reach your opponent, but you’re off-balance when you get there, he can knock you aside easily and get to the quarterback or ball carrier.

Good football involves keeping your feet “under your shoulders”; that is, you want your feet underneath you, instead of having your upper body move one direction and your lower body move the other. If that happens, you’re off-balance.

Just as important is to churn your legs when run blocking. Keep your legs moving at all time, much like a running back is supposed to keep his legs moving, to break through arm tackles and maintain momentum. Momentum is a major factor when blocking, so if you can keep your legs charging forward, you will be able to continue controlling and moving the defender where you want him.

When pass blocking, your movements are different. Generally speaking, linemen want to create a “pocket” for the quarterback, so he can step forward and make a confident throw off his front foot. If the rush gets too close to the quarterback and he has to throw off his back foot, then the ball is likely to “sail on him” or float too much, because he won’t get full power into the throw. Balls thrown off the back foot are more likely to be batted away by defenders or intercepted.

Pass blockers generally take a less aggressive stance, often not going into a three point stance. They give ground, as tackles block defensive ends outside and up the field towards their own goal line. Centers and guards try to maintain a wall where the defensive tackles and blitzing linebackers can’t get into the face of the qb.

In either case, footwork remains just as important, because (if you’re a tackle) you are likely giving space for faster, quicker player to try to run around you. You’ll need to keep your feet moving and underneath you, so you can quickly repond to fast movements one direction or another, or attempts to throw you off-balance by the defensive end.

4. Drills and Training Are Important

Practice drills to help you when you’re blocking. Weight training is important for blockers, because strength plays a big part of blocking. But quickness is also an underrated quality for blockers and offensive linemen, so you’ll need to practice drills that improve your quickness.

Don’t worry if you aren’t the quickest person at the moment. Most linemen are big and not as quick and you’ll be matching up against other big guys, for the most part, so quickness is relative. Working on your quickness will give you that extra burst that can make all the difference in a good block and a blown assignment.

Your quickness drills should involve footwork drills to encourage better movement of your feet in every direction, three-point drills to encourage quicker explosion out of your stance and agility or balance drills to help you keep your opponent in front of you and maintain leverage. Drilling in this way will help you maintain your “blocking technique” or mechanics.

As you can see, learning how to block is a lot more complicated than it looks.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 at 4:45 pmand is filed under Football, Youth Football. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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