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Techniques & Drills

Techniques & Drills for Offensive & Defensive Backs

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Defensive Backs Techniques & Drills

   Football coaches teach their quarterbacks to take a short 6" step with the hand-off side foot. This keeps the quarterback from pulling away from the center before the snap has actually been completed.  Quarterbacks are team leaders who always skillfully move the team up the field, confidently controls the exchange from center, cleanly offers the ball to the Running Backs,  demonstrates consistent throwing mechanics, sets up to throw with their feet directly under their hips, throws to a spot on the field--not to a receiver, and readily distinguishes between Man-To-Man and Zone Defenses.
    The goal in the Quarterback "Stance" is comfort. Head - the head is straight up... Eyes -
focused straight ahead... Shoulders - slightly in front of the hips... Arms - extended forward under the center's backside... Hand - placed on top of each other with the palms in, throwing hand on top, fingers spread with the middle finger placed on the center's pant seam. Pressing the hands into the center's backside is the signal the Quarterback is comfortable and ready for the exchange... Back - arched... Waist - slightly bent... Knees - comfortably flexed to the point that the ball can easily be exchanged with the center. In practice without a center, use a 45 degree bend... Feet - shoulder width apart, toes pointing straight ahead.
    Drills for a Quarterback include drills designed to improve hand to eye coordination and ball handling.  Everything from dropping the football then catching it in midair to hitting a fixed object from predetermined distances are effective.  Drills to strengthen the fingers, hands, and wrists are as important as arm strength.

Running Backs
Football coaches teach their running back stances so the shoulders are even with the knees. This keeps the running back from leaning forward and tipping a running play to the defense.  Running Backs are explosive players who always look for holes in the defense, give a distinct pocket for the hand off, know how to avoid tacklers, blocks well on passing plays, and catch all passes thrown in their direction with their hands.
The player makes a "pocket" with the arms to receive the ball... Top Half of the "Pocket."
Inside Elbow - even with the shoulders... Forearm - horizontal with the ground... Inside Hand - palm down ready to accept the point of the ball... Bottom Half of the "Pocket." Outside Elbow -
straight down from the shoulder... Forearm - horizontal across the midsection... Outside Hand -
slightly bent with the palm up ready to accept the other end of the ball... Fingers - pointing toward
the quarterback.  Receiving the Ball. Hands - both hands instantly secure the ball upon contact... Eyes - focused on the hole where the play goes and the defensive reactions to the play.

Wide Receivers
Football coaches teach their receivers to catch the ball at the numbers with their thumbs and index fingers touching.  The hands form a cone enabling the receiver to catch a higher per cent of their passes.  Receivers are speedy players who always get off the line quickly, effectively block the defense,  move the defensive backs to a desired area, form a pocket for catching the ball, and knows how to avoid and break tackles.
Feet - step in the direction of the release past the outside of the defender's shoulder pads. When the
defender lines up opposite the back foot, the tight end takes two steps to pass the defender's
shoulder pads... Forearm - touches the defender's arm slightly below the top of the shoulder driving
the defender's arm down... Opposite Arm - swings over the defender's shoulder... Elbow - drives
into the defender's back... Hips - the receiver drives their hips past the defender's body.
   All receivers regularly participate in tipped ball and fumble recovery drills.  Other drills include those designed to improve foot speed, quickness, and speed.  But by far the most important drill for receivers is the most fundamental--ALL catches are to be made with the hands, then the ball is brought into the torso and secured.  Drills encouraging receivers not to leave their feet are also high on my list.  I truly hate when when a player makes a thirty yard gain for the team, then tackles himself by unnecessarily leaving his feet and falling to the ground.

Techniques & Drills for Offensive Linemen
Football coaches want their offensive linemen to be aggressive, strong, quick, and most of all smart.  There are many blocking techniques employed by offensive linemen.  The most important keys for offensive linemen are for them to work together as one cohesive unit, always aware of each other's responsibilities.  One of the many ways they do this is through extensive communications.
Pass Blocking
Blocking Techniques
Linemen Stances
Offensive Line Drills
Stances for Offensive Linemen
    There are three basic stances for offensive linemen, the 2-point stance, the 3-point stance, and the 4-point stance.  The two point stance has the lineman in a stance where the fingers are not touching the ground.  Neither are the player's hands to rest on the knees as this is often an indication of fatigue.  The hands should be slightly extended in front of the body, palms down, fingers flexing, elbows tight to the body, knees bent, and slightly bent over at the waist.  Weight should be centered on the whole of the foot or slightly shifted toward the balls of the feet, but never on the heels.  Feet are shoulder width apart, toes directly ahead.  Many coaches allow the offensive line to use the two point stance in obvious passing situations.  The three point stance continues from the two point stance.  The player bends over at the waist and places the three forward fingers of the strong hand to the ground.  The rear end drops parallel to the ground as the knees bend.  The head is up and looking straight ahead.  The strong side foot (the same as the hand) is one foot behind the other foot with the ball of the foot touching the ground.  The player drives off with the up foot first.  A good way to test the player's stance is to quickly remove the hand from its anchor to the ground.  If the player falls forward, too much weight was supported on the hand.  A player should be able to drop his hand to the ground, and pick it back up without obvious torso movement.  In the four point stance the player places the second hand to the ground as well.  The weight ratio between the hands and feet in the four point stance is 1-1.  This stance is often used by linemen in obvious running downs to keep the line low and firing out at the opponent.  It is also used by many power running teams as they pass very infrequently.  It is difficult to pass block from the four point stance.  A player may have a natural affinity for a particular stance, or even have modified a stance to his liking, and a coach should be sure to use the one best for each specific instance.

Blocking Techniques
    There are ten basic types of block an offensive lineman uses.  There are three Golden Rules of Blocking.  First, the blocker must keep his head between the defender and the play, maintaining proper position.  Second, the feet never stop moving.  And third, blocks are maintained until the whistle.
    The Drive Block calls for the blocker to fire out low and hard on the defender hitting him squarely between the numbers, pumping the legs vigorously and driving the defender from a specified area.  During the driving motion the open hands extend and the elbows lock.
    The Read Block calls for the blocker to make contact with the defender in the middle of the torso and "read" the defender.  The idea is the defender will choose a shoulder to attempt to go around, and the blocker then proceeds to assist the defender in that direction.
    The Position Block has the blocker position himself between the play and the defender.  If the defender to be blocked is already lined up in such a manner, this block might be referred to as an Angle Block.  If the defender has the superior angle on the blocker, then the blocker will attempt to "Hook" the defender.  This is accomplished by making contact with and sliding the head to the outside of the defender.  The blocker turns his behind to the running lane fully placing himself between the defender and the play.  The hands are extended.
    The Double Team Block is when two blockers block the same man usually to expose an area or isolate a defensive back with a running back.
    The Trap Block is when a blocker (usually a Guard) pivots the foot furthest from the direction he is going, driving of that foot and coming down the line of scrimmage in order to trap or kick out a defender left unblocked for this very purpose.  More times than not the unblocked defender will penetrate into the back field making the trap block both highly visible and effective.
    The Cross Pull Block has the pulling blocker coming from his own side of the line across the Center position to the other side.  The Pull Block occurs when the pulling player pulls to the same side of the line he is on, going even wider toward the side line.
    The Seal Block occurs when a blocker's main objective is to seal off defensive pursuit from one side of the line of scrimmage to the other.
    The Cross Block attempts to take advantage or pre existing angles at the point of attack.  Which blocker "goes first" is determined by the running lane and defensive alignments and tendencies.  Good communication between the offensive linemen is a must in order to properly execute a good cross block.
    Here is a diagram of the most common blocking techniques.

Pass Blocking(Pocket Pass Protection)
    Use a "Two Point Stance." When beginning with a "Three Point Stance," the lineman pushes
up with the down hand to get into a "Two Point Stance" position. Feet - take a small step
toward the center with the inside foot... Knees - knees flex to lower the hips... Hips - parallel to the
line... Elbows - close to the body, bent... Hands - a few inches from and even with the lineman's
numbers, thumbs touching, fingers point up, palms facing the defender... Shoulders - parallel with the line.  The offensive linemen "stiff arm" the defenders with locked elbows and open hands.  The offensive linemen then recoil, and deliver another blow.  This sequence is repeated until the pass has been thrown.  Offensive linemen do not block in pass protection until a certain count, rather they maintain their blocks for several reasons.  The pocket is designed to puss the pass rush to the outside edges of the pocket.  For this reason, the outer edges of the pocket are usually the first to break down.  When and if the quarterback feels pressure form the outside, he steps forward.  When the QB steps up, the linemen are given new angles to resume their pass blocking.
    For short, quick passes, offensive linemen do not recoil or step back.  Instead they fire off aggressively hitting the defender to the mid section.  This "Fence Blocking Technique" serves two purposes.  First, it tends to keep the defender's hands down so as not to allow the defender to reach out and bat down or tip a passed ball.  Second, it keeps the offensive linemen from stepping back and getting in either the quarterback's way or the passing lane.

Drills for Offensive Linemen
   I support Doug Mallory's concept that offensive linemen must understand the three phases of blocking:  the approach, contact, then follow through.
   The approach begins with a good start.  From a correct stance, linemen should be drilled in shifting their weight distribution from the back to the front foot.  One should be able to displace an offensive lineman's fingers from the ground without notice with the offensive player not falling forward.  A good offensive lineman comes off the line of scrimmage low and mean.  No upward movement (or raising) is tolerated.  Linemen fire out, not pop up.  A low trajectory can be perfected in practice through the use of drills.  One such drill has a coach hold a blocking hand dummy two or three feet out in front of a lineman at or slightly above the upper level of the player's helmet.  The player then comes off the ball head below the dummy and makes full scale contact with a defender.
   Some players have a natural affinity for contact.  They just know how to explode through their opponent, springing from a coiled stance.  Regardless of size they seem to possess a natural density that allows them to bring power with the punch.  Unfortunately, these players are not made by the barrel.  Fortunately, that is not necessary.  Contact is very teachable.  Keeping the head between the defender and the direction of the play the offensive lineman approaches his block at full speed never juking or faking steps.  At the final step before contact with the defender the blocker constricts his closed hands and elbows tight into the torso and uncoils into the defender extending open hands to the point of locking the elbows.  The arms and hands remain inside the opponents shoulders preferably to each outer side of the defenders jersey numbers, thumbs in or down.  At the point of contact the feet never stop moving.  The blocker leans into the defender and pumps his legs driving the defender back.
   Offensive linemen perform many different types of drills utilizing the seven man sled.  The sled teaches linemen to work together as a unit and serves as a good assessment tool for player stance, trajectory from the stance, and ability to drive an opponent from an area.

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