Tag Archives: coaching youth offensive lineman

Pull Blocking Pod Youth Football Drill Station

After watching a few offensive DVDs the over the summer and coaching pulling drills over the years, I tweaked my pull blocking drills into my Pull Blocking Pod Youth Football Drill Station.  I also added blocks for the Split End, Tail Back and the Full Back so we can get everyone involved in the blocking drill. It is my experience that the running backs do not receive enough blocking training, so now I include them in a drill with our lineman.   Hopefully, they are picking up more blocking tips by just being in a “real blocking” drill rather than hitting bags while walking through plays with the running backs’ coaches.  I know my RBs are improving this year because my fullback this season has made a significant improvement in his lead blocking since I installed this drill along with the lead blocking pod drill station.

Pull Blocking Pod Youth Football Drill Station Drills for offensive lineman

Pull Blocking Pod Youth Football Drill Station

The pull blocking drill pod consists of 6 blocking stations; 3 for lineman and 3 for running backs and receivers.  In the above football drill diagram the orange objects are blocking dummies.  The white circles are youth football players.

You can run this drill left or right.  I switch directions after everyone has done 2 reps one way then move to the other direction.  All the lineman rotate into the drill and start in the left offensive tackle position and perform a fill block for the pulling left guard.  The left guard pulls around the dummy tackle bag to perform a seal block on the inside LB.  The right guard pulls and will either trap block the dummy or try to reach and seal the dummy based on the coaches call.  The lineman rotation is waiting line, left tackle, left guard, and right guard then end of line.  Once every lineman has done to reps to one side we rotate to the other side for two reps.

The running backs and receivers rotate from waiting line, TB, FB to Split End to end of line.  The TB performs a block on a moving dummy blitzing to the backfield, The fullback makes a block on a blitzing LB and the receiver tries to seal block the CB.  The key for the running backs in the drill is not to let them walk through the drill and bounce off the bags.  You want to explain to them to hold their blocks and “Super Glue” to the defensive players.  I also tell the RBs that the first bad guy to touch you is your block, because if you pass him up, that player usually touches and or tackles the RB, especially if you are lead blocking.    All too often our running backs whiff their blocks or just plain do not block.  As the lineman coach I try to emphasize to them that the running backs should learn to block for each other.  Blocking by the RBs is the key for big gainers.

To make the drill tougher you can start moving the dummies into the holes or laterally down the LOS making the blockers work and think harder about the blocks.  I find the key to pull blocking and blocking in space is control.  It is very similar to the type of control you need to break down on a form tackle.  The player must slow down a tad to gain control prior to impact so they do not lose their target on a whiff.

Let me know what you think of my Pull Blocking Pod Youth Football Drill Station.  How do you teach and coach pull blocking to your youth football players?  Leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you.

Play for Fun and Winning is Funner,
Coach Steve Parker
KYA Razorbacks, Keller TX
DFW / Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas

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Filed under Blocking, Football Drills, Offense

Thoughts on Choosing Youth Football Offensive Lineman

Big Center

A reader posted a comment a few weeks back asking; “What’s the best way to devise an o-line depth chart? How do you decide who plays guard or tackle?” These are two great questions and there are many strategies to develop an offensive line. Let me offer my thoughts which I am sure there will be much debate.

When I coach youth football players from 2nd grade to 6th grade, I prefer to protect the Center – Quarterback exchange as much as possible; Guard, Center, Guard. By protecting the middle we can snap the ball and the QB can make the necessary hand offs in the backfield. Your number one priority on offense is to get the snap to the QB and this is tough when your opponent knows you have less than effective guards and center. Another advantage of a strong middle offensive line is the wedge play in youth football.

Many seasons I have a play side line (strong) and a backside line (weak) so my strongest G, T and E will move to play side for better blocking. I also overload the O-line with an extra Power Tackle since pulling a backside guard seldom achieves the same success as an overloaded offensive line in my experience coaching youth offensive lineman.

Something that I learned late was that you should expect your offensive lineman to learn advanced blocking calls just like your running backs must learn running lanes, holes, and pass routes. Lineman can handle the challenges of advanced blocking techniques if you expect them to do so. Lombardi said football is blocking and tackling, so don’t forget to spend a majority of your time teaching your players how to block during your offensive time period. I know working with the running backs is very popular and glamorous but championships are won in the trenches.

And finally before moving to the individual offensive lineman position specifics, do not forget to involve your running backs into your blocking schemes. Many coaches forget to teach their running backs who to block and any adjustments for shifts or blitzes. You can’t block all 11 defenders with just your offensive lineman. Your main blocking back usually your Full Back should be able to block LBs and Defensive Ends in the open field. Make sure you teach open field blocking and how to push a pile to your running backs.

The Center

The Center is your most important offensive lineman. Every offensive play starts with your Center. Your Center must be smart, good hearing, understands ball protection, good hands, quick, and must be able to snap the football. Centers come in all sizes but I prefer big Centers so their size makes it difficult for the defense to see my smaller QB and harder to penetrate in the “A” gaps. I’ve had small Centers a few seasons and this is ok if your O-Guards are bigger and can protect the Center / “A” gaps. Lastly, your Center must be smart, know how to snap the ball and mistake free.

Offensive Guards

Since I prefer big Centers, I like my offensive guards to be medium size and very quick footed with good hand speed. Usually in youth football the “A” gaps are filled with MPP defensive players so a good Center can handle them and let the offensive guards pull, double team with the OT or track to the LBs. The OGs also must help protect the Center on mid line stunts and blitzes. We have a blocking call for “A” Gap LB blitzes to protect the middle. My play side guard will usually be one of my top blockers on the team and my weak side guard will be an expert at crab blocking (fill block) or quick enough to pull / track a play side LB / SS. As a general rule of thumb, slow FBs make great offensive guards.

Offensive Tackles

Your play side or strong side offensive tackle is usually one of your biggest lineman and maybe your best blocker, especially power drive blocking. Your offensive tackle must be able to move one or two big defensive players out of the hole with support from your TE or OG. The OT must be good at double team blocks and holding their ground when they are over powered by the defense. Your strong side OT must also be quick enough to deal with a stunting DE or OLB. I will give up some size for quickness for my play side OT. Your backside OT must be good size and able to fill block if you are pulling a OG.

Tight Ends

The TE in youth football is another position that is suited well for slow FBs or quick OTs with good hands. If you are mainly a running team, you may want to consider your play side TE another O-Tackle and not worry about catching passes. Last season, we played a weight limited lineman only player at our play side blocking TE because he was also as fast and quick footed as a FB. He was able to handle the DEs/ OLBs without many issues which allowed us to block other players with our FB. If we threw the ball, we would throw to a slot or wing lined up next to him or threw to our backside TE. At the backside TE, I prefer a tall medium sized player that is a decent blocker with good speed but has great hands for the TE quick pass play. I prefer tall TEs because QBs can find them easier over the middle on pass plays. The TEs don’t have to be fast but quick off the line.

When choosing youth football lineman, remember weight should not be your biggest factor determining offensive lineman. Look for quick feet and hands.  Our best blocker last season was our 85 pound half back / quarterback. He could easily block much slower 130 pound lineman without much trouble. We actually made up several plays called “playerX chow” so this particular HB moved to the OL so he could chow the opposing defensive player and our running backs ran over his block. Most of the time, a smaller but quicker OL will outperform a slower oversized OL. If you are drafting an offensive line, try to draft big FBs. These versatile players in youth football are diamonds.

How do you choose lineman? I would love to know your thoughts. Post a comment.

Cheers,
Coach Parker
Keller, TX / DFW / Fort Worth, Texas
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Filed under Blocking, Offense, Youth Coaching