The pre-snap set, your offensive line should be required to get to the L.O.S. as soon as possible and get down into their two, three, or four-point stance. The center becomes a very important factor when getting to the L.O.S. and getting set in his stance. It is the center that the rest of the offensive line must set their stance on, so, the center must get to the L.O.S. in a hurry and get set.
The Stance – Guards and Tackles
A good stance no matter what level of football you are coaching is basic to sound execution. Without a good stance, your offensive line will not be able execute their assignments properly on a consistent basis. The type of stance you teach must be directly related to the type of plays you are running. It is extremely important that you put an important emphasis on a consistent stance – be able to make all necessary movements from the same stance.
Your run stance must look like your pass stance. Defensive players are always “alert” for anyone “tipping” their intentions by changing their stance. Important note; you can allow the offensive line to alter their stance only in short yardage, and obvious passing situations. The following techniques are ones we teach for a proper stance.
1. Base – Feet shoulder width apart but never wider. If the base is too wide, it tends to cause you to false step or to over extend the base on the snap of the ball.
2. Feet – “Toes” pointing slightly in, with “Heels” turned slightly out. This position will force your power through the inside of the knee to the inside of the feet. Never allow the back heel on the staggered foot to come of the ground more than ½ inch. This is important for maximum traction on the get-off.
3. Stagger – Use a short stagger of the feet to create a proper base, never have more than a two to three-inch stagger between the toe to inseam relationship between the front and back foot. Never more than a toe to heel relationship. By keeping a tight stagger between the front and back foot, you now can play with either a left or right handed, stance.
4. Elbows and Hands – Elbows should rest slightly above the knee opposite the down hand or off to the side in a ready position, this helps square the
shoulders. The hands should always be relaxed and not forming a fist, this helps in the get-off. The down hand should work off the finger tips not the knuckles (don’t be tense.)
5. Shoulders, Back, and Tail – Shoulders should always be square to the line of scrimmage, this is accomplished by setting the down hand off the inside of the knee to the down hand. The tail should be an extension of the back and not in a squatted or drooping position, by slightly turning the heels out will tend to flatten the back and bring the bottom up.
6. Head and Neck – You want the head to be an extension to the shoulders, back, and tail. You want the neck to be in a semi – bowed position, but not in a “bulled neck” position that forces the tail to drop. Focus your eyes on the top of the defender’s jersey numbers.
7. Power Producing Angles – When balancing the stance with only a slight to parallel stagger, will create power-producing angles in the ankles and knees. To get to this position, slightly roll the knees forward on the up foot, so that it is over the toe. This will place the weight on the balls of the feet. Make sure the toes are slightly turned in with heels out. The outside heel may come slightly off the ground.
8. Initial Movement – Important tips to remember while exploding out of a stance. Keep back parallel to the ground; make sure you are going forward, not upward. You always want your offensive linemen stepping with the proper foot using the footwork that fits the play called in the huddle or at the L.O.S.. It will be necessary at times to shift your weight from one foot to the other, depending on which way the play is going – this can be a mental shift rather than a physical one.
Center’s Stance and Exchange – We have found that a good stance for the center is a three-point stance with weight distributed evenly over the “full bottom” of both feet, with little weight forward. You want as little weight placed on the football as possible. The following information can be used to help your center with his specific position skills and gun snap.
1. Base – Feet slightly wider than the shoulders with the feet perpendicular to the L.O.S. – No Stagger.
2. Feet – Must always be pointed straight ahead towards the goal line, keep feet parallel to each other.
3. Shoulders Back and Tail – Gun Snap – Shoulders must be square to the L.O.S. with the back parallel to the ground. The center’s tail will rise as the peeks between the legs to visualize the snap. As the center brings his head up, the tail will drop slightly (this keeps his hips down) to facilitate the snap.
4. Initial Movement – Center must always explode of the ball with his back flat, parallel to the ground. The first step should always be with the foot to the side of the play or as it applies to the blocking scheme called for. Do Not Anticipate The Snap Count. Snapping the ball early penalizes the rest of the offensive linemen by giving the defense an advantage.
5. Position Of The Ball – The ball should be placed slightly to the right eye and forward of the center’s head. Extending the ball in front of you gives you better cut-off angles for run plays. Pulling the ball closer to you in passing situations helps your offensive line in pass protection.
6. The Grip – With the gun snap the football should always be held and snapped as if throwing the ball. Grip the ball by placing your index finger between the second and third lace nearest the front end of the ball. The fingers and palm of the hand will grip the ball on the side, so as to have complete control of the ball. The arm should be extended with your wrist straight and allow your arm to bend because this tends to drop your hips and back.
7. Effecting the Snap – The center on all gun snaps must first visualize snapping the ball to the belt buckle of the center for best results. Before the ball is snapped the center will look back through his legs for an alert from the quarterback that he is ready to receive the snap. The quarterback will alert the center that he is ready to start his cadence by raising one of his legs. Once the quarterback raises his leg to let the center know he is ready to start his cadence the center should then drop his tail by bringing his head up which will slightly drop his tail. The snap is a blind snap that’s why the center must visualize snapping the ball at the quarterback’s belt buckle. If the center doesn’t drop his butt below parallel with his shoulders square, the ball tends to rise with the possibility of the ball being snapped over the quarterback’s head.
The Little Things Make The Difference
Understanding alignments and splits as they apply to the inside and outside run game becomes an important factor, something you should always consider with any potential combination blocks is that alignments and splits can be modified to get best possible results. An offensive lineman needs to understand that a wider split helps the inside run and a tighter split, which restricts the defense helps the outside run.
As everyone knows, the One-on-One, man blocking or base blocking schemes, as they have been called, have been the most used blocking schemes to date. In 1985, when the final rule change was made to allow the use, of extended arms and hands in advance of the body, you started to see the evolution of zone blocking schemes, which allowed one blocker the ability to pass off a defender to an adjacent blocker while working in combination together. As this offense is installed we will attempt for the most part to make the entire blocking scheme zone concepts but, will us man schemes whenever possible.
Whenever we pull a lineman we are going to get man blocking schemes at the point of attack, and for the most part, everything else will be zone blocked backside. If we do not pull any linemen then the entire blocking scheme will be zone.
The definition of a zone block is and area of responsibility between two adjacent linemen. A zone combination means that two combination linemen (Ace, Deuce, Trey) will be responsible for a down first level defender working to block a second level linebacker.
OFFENSIVE LINE CONCEPTS
To be fundamentally tough and sound, each offensive lineman must understand what is required of him and have a way to master these requirements. Descriptive words can help the process. Blocking can be developed to a greater degree more than any other phase of football because it is the most unnatural task. Blocking Schemes requires patience and many hours of “Hard Work”, there are many things to learn.
The more techniques we can learn and master, the easier it will be to cope with various game situations. Repetition must be accepted as away of life for an offensive lineman. Success can only be brought about with tremendous confidence in one’s ability. Concentration, self-discipline, communication, and the willingness to pay the price are part of being a respected offensive lineman.
Determined, intelligent, and aggressive blocking is an indispensable quality of a great football team, from both a technical and psychological standpoint. It is difficult for a team, to have outstanding morale, confidence, and enthusiasm when it lacks the ability to sustain a great ground game or provide adequate protection for the passing game. As an offensive coach you must reinforce daily to your players the importance of controlling the football. A key goal that any offense should make when starting their first possession in a game is to make a first down, these makes for a psychological advantage for the offense. You must make a statement to your opponents, that indeed, you can move the football on them.
The difference between a great blocker and a fair one is the fractional time between contact and the follow through. The finishing off of any block must be constantly repeated and reinforced on a daily basis. Effective line play begins in the huddle. Upon hearing the play called by the quarterback, start to visualize your assignment and possible adjustments or calls at the line of scrimmage. Keep the snap count continually on your mind. If any of your linemen are late getting off on the snap count, then they can expect to get beat. It is impossible to be aggressive when you are uncertain. The following phrases and words will help in describing techniques and alerts.
About the Author of this post:
Jerry Campbell has over 30 years of high school and college coaching experience. He has experience as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and various position coaches. He has written numerous football coaching articles in various publications, is the author of over 30 books on coaching football, and has produced 12 coaching video series. Additionally, he is a nationally sought after speaker on the coaching clinic circuit.