Pass Blocking – The Basics

7 Apr

OL OT kick slides (brookenovak)

Pass blocking is an offensive lineman’s toughest challenge. Coaches — and players –must understand that offensive line play is an unnatural task, a skill that is acquired through many hours of hard work and dedication. To be an effective pass blocker, an offensive lineman must take pride and have the confidence in his ability to protect the quarterback. The goal of every pass blocker is to strive to trust their technique. As long as they are sound in their fundamentals and technique it should not matter what the defender does.

There are four areas in measuring the success of offensive linemen in pass protection:The number of times the quarterback is flushed out of the pocket.

1) The number of times the quarterback is flushed out of the pocket.

2) The number of times the quarterback is hurried.

3) The number of times the quarterback is hit.

4) The number of times the quarterback is sacked.

When teaching pass protection it is imperative your offensive linemen understand the launch point of the quarterback. Why is it important? The launch point of the quarterback will change the pass rush angles of the defenders. The angles will even change from a 3-technique to a 5-technique, and so on depending on the depth of the quarterback’s drop.

In pass protection the objective of an offensive lineman is to keep his body between the defender and the quarterback’s launch point while maintaining the proper pass pro demeanor and relative position. What is relative position? The offensive lineman is keeping his rear-end to the quarterback while maintaining inside leverage and keeping the shoulders and hips square. What is inside leverage? Keeping the post foot just outside the foot of the defenders inside foot while maintaining inside leverage and never setting past the midline of the defender. Remember, a great pass blocker must be disciplined in his technique while being patient but aggressive.

A key to pass protection is how fast the offensive lineman can get from his three-point to his two-point stance without any wasted movement (the snap-up). As a coach you must train the eyes of your offensive linemen on where to look. Give them a target (inside or outside target, etc.). Offensive linemen must not lean on the defender (leaning on the hands and the head must not follow the hands); they must maintain the proper center of gravity, center of mass, as well as have a good base of support.

The feet must be outside the hips throughout the pass block, the knees must stay within the ankles and the hips inside the knees (the cylinder). If the knees rotate outside the ankles, the shoulder and hip will open up thus creating a soft hip and soft shoulder.

Play on the insteps of the feet with the toes slightly out (toe out). Why on the insteps? If a pass protector plays on the balls of his feet he will fall forward unable to redirect his center of mass. If the pass protector plays on the heels of his feet, which is the most vulnerable part of the foot, his mass is falling backwards and he will open up his hips and his shoulder because the foot will rotate out.

Also, it is important to understand that the body is a cylinder and a pass protector must stay within his cylinder in pass protection. Once the pass protector is out of his cylinder, he will loose power and balance. In other words, the pass protector pass blocks with his hips. It is important to remember that every pass set is broken into four parts: Feet, Landmarks, Punch and Knee Bend.

The Post Foot Set Foot Stagger

The Post Foot: The Post Foot is the inside foot. On the right side, it’s the left foot. Linemen on the left side will use their right foot as their post foot. Seventy percent of the weight should be on the hip of the post foot (70/30). Teach right and left handed stances.

The Set Foot: The outside foot. All cleats should be planted in the ground playing on the insteps and slightly toed out, while keeping the knee inside the ankle. If the weight is on the ball of the set foot, the offensive lineman will be caught leaning and will be off balance. In pass protection, having the ability to redirect and having balance is the key.

Art - footwork

There is a 4 step sequence that must take place for any pass block to be successful.

  1. The set

The set is the most important part of pass protection. It is important that an offensive linemen get into their proper pass protection demeanor as soon as possible (the snap up and time of domination).

It’s important to understand the different sets being taught. These are the sets I teach: power set, vertical set, settle set, short set and jump set. The set is achieved and depends on the ability of the offensive lineman to move from his stance to the proper set position as quickly as possible.

It’s also important to understand the set system and the step patterns within the set system being taught. What is a set system? The set system is the step pattern which is determined by the pass protection scheme, the defensive structure and the alignment of the defender. When setting, set to a stagger and maintain the post staggered position throughout the set. Play on the insteps with the toes pointed out slightly for balance.

  1. The mirror

After initial contact, it is imperative offensive linemen maintain the proper pass blocking demeanor. Keep shoulders and hips square; do not bail by dropping the post foot. If the offensive lineman drops the post foot, he is internally opening up the hips thus creating a soft hip and shoulder.

It’s takes a ton of practice — what coaches call “reps”– to master the skill. A ton. That’s why the  big  guys in the big league get the big bucks. They’ve done it a million times. Maybe more.

Action_OL pass pro (kyle tsui)



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