Offensive linemen are often the forgotten part of a successful play, everyone watching a game likes to watch a deep touchdown pass or a long scoring run, but none of those exciting plays would ever take place without a solid, dependable offensive line.
At the youth level the difference between most teams is the skill and technique of the offensive line, simply put the better offensive line you have the better your chances of being successful are. However often coaches ignore or lose sight of this fact and do not invest the time to teach proper blocking techniques.
There are 6 different blocking types or skills that youth coaches can choose from:
Reach Blocking (Hook blocking)
Pulling Blocking (Trap blocking)
The most common used form of blocking.
Purpose is to drive or push the defenders off the line of scrimmage.
After exploding off the line the linemen makes contact with shoulder and then hands.
At the moment of contact the blocker drives his hips to raise the center of gravity of the defender and create backwards momentum.
Once backwards momentum has been established the blocker can drive this defender in any direction.
Things to watch for:
Do not make contact with hands first, blocker needs to explode into defender with shoulder pads first then explode and engage hands into center of opponents chest.
First step should be with back foot, starting with front foot will cause blocker to be over extended and off balance.
Keep pads low, do not stand straight up, the key to blocking is leverage, standing to tall will affect leverage and balance.
Can be used against a defender lined up to the inside of blocker or head up on blocker.
Used to keep an inside gap open.
Starts with a VERY short directional step to the inside with inside foot.
Blocker's primary contact is with outside shoulder to create a wedge between defender and inside gap.
Next offensive linemen with an open palm strikes defender in chest, between the numbers to create momentum and turn the defender to outside.
Offensive player then turns his own hips to stay balanced and in front of defender.
Look out for:
Offensive linemen taking to long of a first step. If this happens the player will have to take a longer second step with outside foot and will be off balanced and unable to slow the defenders momentum.
Pad level should always start low and explode up with palm strike, once pad level is up, follow through and turn with the hips and over power defender. Failure to follow through with the hips will allow defender to recover and beat the block.
The palm strike to chest should be very forceful, however DO NOT grab jersey as it will almost always be seen and the refs call it from time to time. This is one of those grey areas, practice makes perfect.
Reach or Hook Blocking
Used for defenders lined up outside the blocker or head up when an outside gap needs to be opened.
Sometimes referred to as "sealing the corner".
Use a short directional step like the angle block, except to the outside.
Blocker must get his inside shoulder to the outside of the defender very quickly to have a chance at a successful block.
After contact with inside shoulder utilize an outside hand palm strike to chest of defender to help turn him, then turn hips and drive defender inside.
Must get off the snap quickly, if defender beats the blocker its too late and often leads to offensive player grabbing a hand full of jersey and getting a penalty.
Will step with outside foot first, do not step with inside foot first as player's will cross their feet, lose balance and could trip themselves out of a block.
Pad level and balance should always below before exploding into and turning the defender.
Those are the three most common and useful blocking techniques for youth football coaches.
The remaining techniques are more specialized and should be reserved for players who have a strong fundamental base in drive blocking, hook blocking and angle blocking.
Later we will address pass blocking, trap blocking and downfield blocking separately and in more detail so stay tuned.
Please feel free to share any comments or questions you may have.
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