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Monday, March 15, 2010

Youth Football Blocking Fundamentals

Probably the single most important group on your football team is the offensive linemen. Without a solid offensive line the team will struggle to move the football regardless of how outstanding your athletes are. As the players get older and elevate to each level, the offensive linemen become a very important part of your football team.

At the youth football level usually most coaches will put the biggest and slowest players on the offensive line. That's fine, but a lot of times these players don't know their blocking assignments, can't move, and basically use their size to push their opponents out of the way. Its important that we give them a little bit more than that. In the end we will all benefit.

From day one work on their three point stance. Make sure that they have good technique and get in it properly, reset their feet until they get it. make sure they have a nice flat back, butt down, with head up. As they set in their stance make sure they don/t have too much weight on that front hand. Once you've established a good stance, now work on getting them to take their first step. Footwork is probably one of the most important thing we neglect to do with our linemen at the youth football level. If they cannot move their feet properly then we cannot expect them to get to or maintain their block. Footwork drills out of a three point stance should be done every practice.

The rule of thumb with offensive linemen is that their first step is a short six inch step followed by a second larger power step as they engage their block.

First step ties, second step wins.

Teach them to hit and stick, not to pop up out of their low stance and drive their man until the whistle blows. At the youth football level a shoulder drive block should be practiced with their head tucked on their block play side. Once they have a solid stance and are moving their feet introduce to them the holes where your going to run the football whether it be a numbering or letter system, coach them up to where the ball will possibly run based on your plays. Some coaches even name their holes such as dive, smash, slam, etc. Its important they know where the ball is going!

Once they know the hole numbering system or whatever you go by, introduce some basic blocking rules such as Gap, On, Over. Basically, your linemen will line up knowing where the ball is going and then apply their rules in order to open up a hole. The rules reflect their biggest defensive threat. Before the snap they read the D-line and by checking where the defence is aligned. First check inside gap, nobody there, so check to man on, nobody there, so check to man over, ah there he is , that's your man to block.

There are different football blocking rules you can apply based on what your philosophy is, the main thing is to give them some rules and make it easier for them. You'll notice it when your running back is exploding up the middle for big gains!