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acsmith7062
(@acsmith7062)
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Joined: 4 years ago
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Texas
3rd - 5th
Head Coach
November 11, 2019 3:29 pm  

A little background first, I coach a 4th grade team that went undefeated in 2nd and 3rd grade.  This season we lost our first game during the regular season to another previously undefeated team, that joined our league this season (from another league that merged with ours).  We lost a close 19-16 game that could have gone either way.  Flash forward to the playoffs semi-final game where we were matched up against a team, that while bigger and more athletic than us, has never beaten us.  My kids were looking forward to a rematch with the team we lost to, in the Championship game.  We played the worst game that we have ever played.  I know that we were overlooking the team we were playing, but the most disturbing thing was that our blocking was abysmal.  Basically non-existent.  They came at us aggressively and we had leakage everywhere.  Not just our o-line, but also at the point of attack with our back and receivers.  Due to this, our offense ground to a halt.  We had never been held to less than two TDs in a game and we got shutout 13-0! 

I have always taught hands blocking, but I think I need to reconsider.  We are the smallest team in the league, and that is going to continue.  We really wilted against an aggressive defensive pressure.  They were in our backfield all day.  I would appreciate any thoughts or experience with teaching shoulder blocking vs hands blocking as a more aggressive and better technique for a team that is going to be over-matched physically on game days.  All responses appreciated!

-Chad 

"You fail all the time, but you aren't a failure until you start blaming someone else."   O.A. "Bum" Phillips


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 17031
North Carolina
High School
November 11, 2019 6:10 pm  

I have always taught hands blocking, but I think I need to reconsider.  We are the smallest team in the league, and that is going to continue.  We really wilted against an aggressive defensive pressure.  They were in our backfield all day.  I would appreciate any thoughts or experience with teaching shoulder blocking vs hands blocking as a more aggressive and better technique for a team that is going to be over-matched physically on game days.  All responses appreciated!

I don't believe in hands blocking for a run-based offense, for a variety of reasons.  We use X-Men, which is a forearms technique.  It's violent, physical, we don't get holding penalties (our fists are in our armpits), and it relies on the strongest area of the body (below the waist), instead of the weakest part of the body (the arms & hands) to drive a defender back.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Sharkbait
(@sharkbait)
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November 12, 2019 4:15 am  

Shoulder blocking between the tackles and hands outside of that, is what I teach.


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spidermac
(@spidermac)
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Posts: 2395
November 12, 2019 4:35 am  

We are a hands blocking team...even when I was running DW (I know heresy)…

We still teach that we block with our feet though...holding means you are not moving your feet and you are getting beat.

We also use a lot of different scheme adjustments to make our guys successful. We will cut a problematic defender. We will GUT or TUG tag things to get better angles (GUT = Guard under Tackle, TUG = Tackle under Guard). Sometimes we will GUT or TUG cut.

But to me, the biggest part of a successful oline is nastiness....my new 8 year old team is getting there...my last team, very nasty...in more than one game last season, we can see the dline not coming forward because we had physically beaten on them over the course of the game, and they never knew who was going to block them, or how they were going to get blocked. Oh, and our H was part of the blocking scheme, they would always spend some time with the oline during practice.

Just like a lot of coaches, my oline doesn't have the most athletic players on it...and generally speaking, from an athleticism perspective they are over matched by the players on the dline...we have to get them in a position to be able to block those more athletic players...

Angles are your friends...you have got to give the boys favorable angles to execute their blocks. We get angles that we want a number of ways:

1. Recess the line as deep as legal (helmet bisecting the Center's belt).
2. As I mentioned earlier, Tag the scheme using short pulls or cross blocks, GUT, TUG, etc.
3. Teach them to alter their steps depending upon the guy they have to block...some times that fist step has to be lateral, sometimes it has to be backwards in order for them to get a favorable angle.

The other thing that gave us a lot of mileage...we would do what we call run fit...our oline and the H would block our different schemes and for the dline and linebackers we would use our ball guys, who were much much more athletic than our oline...and yes, when we first started doing it we would end up with 4 or 6 defenders in the back field because our line was getting beat....but this is where we taught them to alter their footwork to deal with who they were blocking...it made our oline so much better...because they had to use their feet to block...

None of them suck, they just haven't found what the kid is good at yet.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
Kryptonite
Joined: 10 years ago
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North Carolina
High School
November 12, 2019 5:30 am  

We are a hands blocking team...even when I was running DW (I know heresy).

-- ??? ::)

holding means you are not moving your feet and you are getting beat.

--Yes, that's exactly what it means, Chris.  Which is one reason we don't do it.  It's far easier for a player to use poor technique (such as holding) when the fundamental (hands blocking) still allows him to, than when he can't use that fundamental at all.  What I mean is, if/when we get beat, we still can't hold because we don't use hands.  I see players use lazy technique and poor form all the time when the fundamental still allows for it, despite the number of times they've been told/coached not to do it.  It's like having poor punt coverage.  I don't have to worry about (or even work on) punt coverage, because we punt out of bounds.

I can't tell you the number of hurt fingers and wrists that my RBs have had this season from hands blocking and trying to pass protect on a LB blitz.  But that's what is taught at our high school.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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spidermac
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November 12, 2019 5:48 am  

Dave, I hear you...and teaching hands blocking comes with a whole set of challenges that shoulder blocking does not, no argument there...we got hit for holding twice last week in our semi final game...and there was no arguing...the players were holding the crap out of the bad guys, because they got off late...which is either an physical error (lazy) or a mental error (brain farted the snap count)….but...I can teach hands blocking...I tried teaching shoulder blocking and failed miserably 😛

So I learned how to be better at teaching hands...and giving the boys more arrows in their quivers to be successful in doing it 🙂 and I have to accept the bad that comes with what I am teaching, especially when the boys are younger...and coach the bad out of them 🙂 So I guess not accept it, but be resigned that is part of the process of getting there...

None of them suck, they just haven't found what the kid is good at yet.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
Kryptonite
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 17031
North Carolina
High School
November 12, 2019 5:57 am  

I have always taught hands blocking, but I think I need to reconsider.  We are the smallest team in the league, and that is going to continue.  We really wilted against an aggressive defensive pressure.  They were in our backfield all day.  I would appreciate any thoughts or experience with teaching shoulder blocking vs hands blocking as a more aggressive and better technique for a team that is going to be over-matched physically on game days.  All responses appreciated!

Chad, here is why I use our approach:

No holding penalties.  Our hands are hidden.

No finger, wrist, or hand injuries.  Our hands are hidden.

It's harder to use poor technique with X-Men.  Look at many "circle blocking drills" where it becomes a sling-fest of grabbing jerseys and feet that aren't moving.  You can't grab and swing a defender with our approach; it requires an o-lineman to move his feet.  (And we spend more time on linemen footwork than any other fundamental.)

It can't be ripped or swam by a defender.

A defender can't get separation to see the direction of the play (we are in his face, blocking his vision).

Your opponent probably practices against hands every day.  He never practices against X-Men.  That's a big advantage.

It uses the strongest aspect of any football player (below the waist; their hips, thighs, calves and feet), rather than relying on their weakest aspect (above the waist; most youth players struggle with 10 pushups and you want them to use their weakest part of their body to execute their most important responsibility?  Even most high school players can squat at least twice more than they can bench.)

It's violent, physical and painful for the opposition.

I've taught every approach that I know of: hands, shoulders, flippers.  I teach X-Men because it has worked better for us (at youth, middle and high school) than any other technique.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
Kryptonite
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Posts: 17031
North Carolina
High School
November 12, 2019 5:59 am  

So I learned how to be better at teaching hands...and giving the boys more arrows in their quivers to be successful in doing it 🙂 and I have to accept the bad that comes with what I am teaching, especially when the boys are younger...and coach the bad out of them 🙂 So I guess not accept it, but be resigned that is part of the process of getting there...

Blah, blah, blahpity blah, Chris...  You really need to go back to the Double Wing and forget all this foolishness.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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spidermac
(@spidermac)
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Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 2395
November 12, 2019 6:28 am  

Blah, blah, blahpity blah, Chris...  You really need to go back to the Double Wing and forget all this foolishness.

--Dave

Dave, I know...but it is kind of fun being the really physical spread team 😛

None of them suck, they just haven't found what the kid is good at yet.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
Kryptonite
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 17031
North Carolina
High School
November 12, 2019 7:11 am  

Dave, I know...but it is kind of fun being the really physical spread team

I dunno, man....it's like being "the really physical Girl Scout."  😉

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Vince148
(@vince148)
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Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 2337
November 12, 2019 7:13 am  

I am going to take a longer look at shoulder blocking this off-season for my team. We ran SW (8-man) and I used hands blocking. Along with the points that Dave makes, I have a sneaky suspicion that shoulder blocking will help maintain a lower blocking position as it appears that hands blocking results in the blockers coming up faster so that they can engage with their hands.


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
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Posts: 9424
New Jersey
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Asst Coach
November 12, 2019 7:30 am  

It's far easier for a player to use poor technique (such as holding) when the fundamental (hands blocking) still allows him to, than when he can't use that fundamental at all.  What I mean is, if/when we get beat, we still can't hold because we don't use hands.  I see players use lazy technique and poor form all the time when the fundamental still allows for it, despite the number of times they've been told/coached not to do it.

That's also the reason I like to coach shoulder blocking first.  But in my case it's not about holding, it's about playing too high.  I'm afraid beginners coached in hands blocking will come up too high because they can, and avoid running thru the opponent's position because once you're engaged like that, you must avoid getting your feet too close to the opponent.

However, once they're good at shoulder blocking, then I feel they can use hands, which is an advantage on some blocks.  It may take more than a season for some players to learn to play low enough.


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Bob Goodman
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New Jersey
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November 12, 2019 7:38 am  

[regarding fists in armpits, elbows leading]
It can't be ripped or swam by a defender.

How so?  What magic keeps my shoulder from getting under yours?  What keeps my far hand from going over your shoulder?


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
Kryptonite
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 17031
North Carolina
High School
November 12, 2019 7:40 am  

It may take more than a season for some players to learn to play low enough.

They should learn that in Week 1.  If they are put on the boards, they will see what happens to them if they play high.  One of the first teaching points I demonstrate (and I demonstrated it with the youth linemen at practice, last night) is if you play tall, you play weak and if you play low, you play strong.  Then to demonstrate, I stand tall and have a player push me.  I fall backwards easily.  Then I get in a football-ready power position, with my knees bent and shoulders forward.  I have the same player push me again and I don't budge.  They see the difference.  Then I have the linemen get on the boards, and starting at fit put a player in the low position and another player in the high position.  The low one wins every time.  This is an immediate teach and they learn it very quickly.  Absolutely no difference in teaching this, as opposed to any other fundamental that you want your players to be good at.  It's an every day drill.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9424
New Jersey
3rd - 5th
Asst Coach
November 12, 2019 8:06 am  

They should learn that in Week 1.  If they are put on the boards, they will see what happens to them if they play high.  One of the first teaching points I demonstrate (and I demonstrated it with the youth linemen at practice, last night) is if you play tall, you play weak and if you play low, you play strong.  Then to demonstrate, I stand tall and have a player push me.  I fall backwards easily.  Then I get in a football-ready power position, with my knees bent and shoulders forward.  I have the same player push me again and I don't budge.  They see the difference.  Then I have the linemen get on the boards, and starting at fit put a player in the low position and another player in the high position.  The low one wins every time.  This is an immediate teach and they learn it very quickly.  Absolutely no difference in teaching this, as opposed to any other fundamental that you want your players to be good at.  It's an every day drill.

But it needs to be every day, and even then they forget in the instant.  So what's wrong with having a technique that reinforces it mechanically?

Haven't we all seen, "You just repped that 5 minutes ago correctly!  Why is it wrong now?"  That's why I'm always looking for ways to make it easier.


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