One thing I get asked a lot about is teaching young offensive lineman how to drive a defender. First thing I will tell you is I don’t have all the answers. I truly believe a wise man is someone who knows they don’t know it all and is willing to continue to learn. I’m going to share with you some things that I believe in and what I try to teach.
The biggest thing we have to teach first is for guys to understand and feel where they are strong at. If they are not in a strong position they won’t be able to drive anything. Typically we are the strongest when our joints are bent 45 degrees. I always hammer with my guys the law of 45. I preach it starting from our stance and into our blocking, both run and pass. A good alignment for our body is bending 45 degrees at the ankle joint, knee joint, and the hip joint; with your toes out and knees slightly pulled in to create a direct line of force between your inseams and your knee. One thing to do is have the OL athlete get into his stance but stay in the 2 point version of it. Then go around and kind of give the earthquake test by trying to lean on him. This gives him that feeling “Am I in a strong position?” If they are putting force through there inseams correctly and in a good position bending 45 degrees at joints, they typically will find there sweet spot. You may have to adjust the width of their stance and their stagger as well. Lastly, we also want to teach the upper body to be at its strongest, by torqueing the elbows in and having that joint bent 45 degrees. See Picture below.
After we get OL athletes to understand and feel where they are strong at and understand a powerful position, we transition to working on putting force into the ground to create movement. One of my favorite drills to use every day to help create this feeling is what I call “Energy Drill”. In order to move a defender you have to be able to create energy. This Drill starts with getting in the position you see in the picture above. Toes out, slight stagger, and pushing through your inseams with knees pulled in slightly to create that line of force. I use 2 commands in this drill. First one is to activate, the defense puts pressure on the offensive lineman by leaning on them and applying pressure. I talk about joint centration. This is where all your joints are in line and firing ready to go. The first part of the drill is an activation part. This again is where they feel where they are strong at and activate all the muscles that go into putting force into the ground correctly. On the second command, they work on winning the stale mate and drive the defender out of there. In order to do that they must not false step by stepping backwards, but continue to apply force through the ground, torqueing the elbows to create some movement. As the OL athlete gets some initial movement the pounding of the feet will follow. The OL athlete will continue to put force through the ground through their powerful steps. A cue to use with the upper body is make the elbows disappear. From behind if their elbows are screwed into the block you won’t be able to see the elbows.
This again is one of my everyday drills, because it reminds and creates muscle memory to my OL athletes of joint centration. You will hear me say “bring all those muscle fibers to the table,” “activate them all,” and “bear down on it.” Then as they drive the defender it continues to create muscle memory of applying force through the ground correctly to move a defender. It’s important for the defenders to apply force against the offensive lineman too, because if not they don’t get the feeling of what it takes to move a defender. To me this is where it all begins. A video of this drill is below. Reach out and give me feedback. I will continue on this Series of drive blocking and would love to answer questions as I go.