Keys to a Solid Offensive Line

The heart and soul of any good football team is its offensive line. There's no position that requires more discipline or technique than offensive lineman. Success as an offensive football team hinges on their ability to control the line of scrimmage.

To be a good offensive line requires more than just discipline or good blocking technique, it requires pride -- pride in yourself; your group and your team. A team with pride is a hard team to beat, because they're willing to do the little things that most teams aren't willing to do.

No detail should ever be overlooked, regardless of how minute it may seem. The difference between winning and losing often lies in the failure to do the little things. Not every player can be an "All-Pro," or even starter, but everyone can hustle and hit and be a good team man.

The basic fundamentals: The little things

1. The huddle. This is where every successful play begins. Listen and try to visualize your assignment; calls if any; keep the starting count in your mind. Jog to the line of scrimmage -- never walk -- this is a positive psychological advantage over your opponent.

2. The starting counts. In order to control the line of scrimmage, it's extremely important to execute the starting count. The single greatest advantage the offensive line has over the defense is that they know when the ball will be snapped and where the play is going. You want your offensive line to explode out together -- like a well-oiled machine.

3. The pre-set. Guards and Tackles should use a pre-set upon reaching the line of scrimmage.
  • Base: Shoulder-width but never wider.
  • Feet: Toes pointing straight ahead with feet parallel to one another -- the weight is evenly distributed on the balls of both feet.
  • Elbows and hands: Elbows resting slightly above the knees, with hands forming fists facing one another.
  • Shoulder, back, tail: The shoulders should be square to LOS with the back flat or parallel to ground. The tail should be an extension to the back and shouldn't be in a drooping position.
  • Head and neck: The head and neck should be an extension of the shoulders, back and tail. You want your neck to be in a semi-bowed position, not in a "bulled-neck" position that forces the tail to droop.

Offensive line drills

The little things are the basic fundamentals that pertain to offensive line play before the different techniques of blocking can be mastered, the offensive line must show tremendous discipline and take great pride in doing these little things correctly.

The fundamentals that need the constant emphasis and repetition are as follows: pre-set; stance; one-step explosion; pull technique; line up and splits; takeoff; and proper sets for pass protection. These so-called little things will not be improved by just paying lip-service to them. They need to be done as often as time will allow.

Purpose: To improve the fundamentals of offensive line play in a non-contact drill.

Equipment: Work off of lines -- back end of the end zone or a side line will be excellent -- lines will aid the players in getting into a good square-up position.

Instruction: Offensive linemen will align along the line so that they can place their hand on the line when in a three-point stance. Work the entire group at the same time so that they can get more repetition within a shorter period of time.

  • Pre-set: Good base -- feet parallel, weight on balls of the feet. (Work on snapping down together to a three-point stance).
  • Stance: Toes towards goal line -- "Z" on knee, slight stagger, weight evenly distributed on three points.
  • One-step explosion: Ability to explode out of stance on different angles: a) straight ahead; b) angle right; c) angle left.
  • Pull technique: Right -- whip and pivot; left -- jump turn.
  • Line up and splits: Guards set the lineup -- align with down hand along center's belt line. Tackles -- align on up foot and down hand of the guard.

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