Install Help Zone blocking/Plays
I will be going into my third season as OC next year. I will be coaching Fifth Grade (11u) and I want to start teaching them how to zone block. We have a few pistol plays they we had success with pulling backside guard.
Any help on how to teach zone blocking and any complementary plays that you could send my way would be greatly appreciated. I've attached a play we used last season with great success.
Okay, I am not a zone blocking guru by any stretch (no pun intended) of the imagination...
But a couple of things...I have run a pistol spread with pretty good success the last two seasons...we went with 18 inch splits, and we ran out of both single and two back sets...with and without motion, with and without pullers...in the first year when transitioning from the DW, we struggled a little bit, but repetition is the key, rep the snot out of it in practice...
Second...what front are you going to see? We had teams show us 5 down lineman and 3 linebackers...you have to get them out of that box if you want to run...so you have to be able to throw the ball to back them out...if you can get them to go into 4 down, and 2 LB's it gets easier to run. Or even a 5 2 is easier...
We taught inside zone, stretch, bob (big on big) trap and counter schemes...we decided that stretch blocking would work just as well as OZ for the outside plays we wanted to use, and one less thing to have to teach with only 6 hours of practice a week. We did this with 10 years olds and 11 year olds…
We had a drill we called fast feet, and we did it every day...basically, they would zone right, zone left, stretch right and stretch left for 3 or four yards, moving their feet and for stretch, "throwing their hats" and "wheeling their hips". We did a lot of board work for hand placement and feet placement, and worked on body position (no nose over toes for example).
Probably the best thing we did for them...was working run fits against the ball guys...moving from a compressed alignment to foot and a half splits was hard for them at first, they were slow...and the angles were bad...having the ball guys align in different fronts and then having the bigs block them helped them get faster, improve their angles, as they had to flatten steps to get across the space and get their hands on the bad guys...
We worked on "hand fighting" keeping the inside position with their hands, we also taught them to talk to each other, ask their buddy for help if they were having trouble with a particular dlineman. They would make line calls letting them know who was cutting and who they were cutting, they used hand signals to let the backs know if they were going Guard Under Tackle and the hole was going to open up tighter than normal, we taught them to hand help to a backer if they were covered, we taught them to combo to the backer and play with their eyes up so they would know who was coming off the combo to get the backer.
Okay, your 34 dive slide, I would actually call it Power...I would block it a little differently as well...I would align the H on the other side of the formation, add some deception to the play. Bring him across at the snap and have him kick the DE. Play side CGT would down block, with the Center responsible for a backside 2 or 1 tech, G getting a 0 or playside 1 tech, T getting a a playside 2 or 3 tech...the back side G would pull and climb looking inside out for LBs. The back side T would hand help the C on the 2 tech and climb to the LB.
Your receivers...unless the bubble is a big part of your offense, and you are going to freeze DBs with the bubble, have them become blockers get them into the middle of the field hunting DBs and LBs.
I used the term "hand help"...to me, that is a violent punch to the shoulder of the guy as you go by him on the way to the LB, get his shoulder to turn with the violence of the blow.
None of them suck, they just haven't found what the kid is good at yet.
This is how I teach zone. I've coached it several ways. This, I feel, is simpler.
Two things to remember about Zone.
1. Zone is just blocking whatever's in your playside gap. Base block a defender on Inside Zone. Reach him on Outside Zone. That's all. Don't overcomplicate this.
2. The classic Zone Read, the way most people run it, is really just reading the backside DE for a naked bootleg so he doesn't tackle the runner on zone. That's all. Start there to wrap your mind around what the heck is going on with this play and it becomes a lot easier to master.
As far as complimentary plays, you can get pretty much an entire running game based off Inside Zone.
Inverted Zone Read (RB goes across QB's face on a sweep path and QB reads him for a keep on the zone inside)
Zone Speed Option (zone block away, pitch off the backside DE)
Zone Counter (have a WR or other back kick out the backside DE while everyone else blocks zone--RB will start the other way, then wind back behind the BST).
The play you drew up is what most would call "Power" and it compliments the zone well by downblocking instead of base blocking. You'll need a way to get the ball off tackle (which this does) as well as outside (which the different reads can do), plus a little bit of a passing game to make defenses respect your spread receivers.
If you're spread, you're going to need to throw the ball a little. Having a couple of WR screens on each side of the zone can give you an RPO, if your kids can catch a bubble or hitch screen. You would also want at least one good PAP off the zone, which could be as simple as a bootleg with a drag coming from the other side.
If you base out the backside DE you can read the LB or insert a FB on him to create an Iso play, but you likely won't want to do that if you're new to zone and coaching 11u. KISS.
We have successfully taught Zone blocking at 10's. There are a few simple things to keep in mind.
1) Concentrate on how to block first. The who part comes easier, so focus on punch & steps.
2) RB's must understand how & where to run. Jump cuts are important, so is 1 cut & go. Zone must be a no loss play the back can not dance.
3) Coaches must understand the progression of the offense & how to use Zone to exploit a defense.
Hope that helps.
"Champions behave like champions before they're champions: they have a winning standard of performance before they are winners"Bill Walsh
I am not a zone blocking guru by any stretch
I swear that's a funny one. ;D I'm going to use that someday.
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