O Line Blocking Assignments For Offensive Linemen

Jim sent the following question:

What are some simple but effective blocking schemes I can introduce my team’s offensive line this fall? I coach fifth- and sixth-graders, so they are ready to handle more, but I’m not sure how much more.

Hi, Jim.

There are a couple of rules that I learned over the years when coaching offense. The first is to make every player’s assignment clear and concise. The goal is to eliminate the “I thought” response concerning the blocking by a player on any given play.

We also want to decrease hesitation that comes when a player is not sure what to do or who to block. We want our players to keep the advantage of knowing when the play begins and to be moving on the snap.

For your age group, start by teaching three basic run blocks: drive (straight-ahead block designed to drive the defender back off the line), angle (blocking to the inside on the first defender on the line, stopping penetration and pursuit) and hook (blocking to the outside on the first defender on or off the line).

As an example, any time we called a play that required a lineman to drive block, his rule for the player that he would block is:

  • In (any defensive lineman lined up in the gap to your inside)
  • On (any defensive lineman lined up in front of you)
  • Linebacker (any linebacker lined up in front of you or to your inside)

For the center, the drive block rule is adjusted to:

  • Off (any defensive lineman lined up in the gap opposite the side of the play
  • On (same as above)
  • Linebacker (same as above)

The instant the offensive lineman breaks the huddle and moves to the line of scrimmage, he can begin to determine which defender is his to block based on the order above.

The second rule is to have blocking assignments for the offense grouped so that the player learns one rule for a group of plays that you want to include in your offensive scheme.

In this area, would include all plays run in the guard-center and guard-tackle gaps – for example 10-11 QB sneak, 32-33 fullback plunge, 24-25 halfback dive or 34-35 fullback slant. In this way, we can group eight inside running plays all with the same blocking assignments for the offensive line at the side of the attack.

Later, we can add a 24-25 halfback dive cross where the tackle and guard cross block with the tackle first and a 34-35 fullback trap where the offside guard pulls and blocks the first defender who shows.  

Group off-tackle plays the same way: 26-27 halfback power with a double-team block by the tackle (drive rules) and tight end (angle rules). A 36-37 fullback belly uses the guard and tackle hook rule and tight end drive rule.

Finally, our wide outside runs are: 28-29 halfback sweep with tackle and tight end angle rules with a guard on lead pull, 28-29 halfback toss with a guard hooking, a tackle pulling and a tight end on an angle block. Later you might consider 8-9 hole QB options.

In review, I suggest the following:

  • Design your scheme and blocking rules to match and reflect the blocking techniques you are asking the offensive players to execute.
  • Try to group your blocking schemes to be utilized in specific areas of your formation that you desire to attack.
  • Add descriptive terms to the play call to change the overall blocking scheme you want the team to use.

Fewer plays run with precision and an attacking mentality is far better than an offense with many plays where the players are confused and play with hesitation.

Good luck this year, Jim. Keep it fun for the kids and enjoy the challenge and experience.

Coach Tom Bass

Coach Tom Bass, a 30-year NFL coach and a technical writer and advisor for USA Football, also is the author of several football coaching books, including "Play Football the NFL Way" (St. Martin's Press), the only authorized NFL coaching book, "Football Skills and Drills" (Human Kinetics) and "The New Coaches Guide to Youth Football Skills and Drills" (McGraw Hill). If you would like to order a personalized autographed copy of Coach Bass' books, copies of his printed “In-Depth Coaching Clinics” or “NFL or College Sport Maps,” visit: www.coachbasssportmaps.com.

TagsCoach High School Tackle football

Offensive Line Blocking Techniques

The game of football is won at the line of scrimmage. If you control the line of scrimmage you will control the game. Offensive line blocking techniques like run and pass blocking need to be practiced every single practice.

Run Blocking Technique

• Explode forward through target, shooting hands inside with thumbs up. The aiming point is the numbers/arm pits of the defender.
• Feet should always be pumping. Keep the feet alive.
• Helmet underneath your defenders helmet, keep head up. Do not lead with helmet.
• Feet shoulder-width apart-short six inch steps while engaged-choppy feet.
• Drive- sink the hips, sky the eyes. Short choppy steps finish the block.
• When blocking on an angle (down blocking), make sure your OL take a leverage step towards the defender. They will also need their head across the defenders face. Drive through the outside hip/shoulder of the defender.
• Attitude! The offensive line is all about attitude. Be physical and finish the block.

Pass Blocking

  • Inside gap responsibility first.
  • Wide base, good arm extension.
  •  Short choppy steps- step into defender.
  • Nice wide base.
  •  Hands inside-jolt defender full arm extension.
  • Hold ground. Even though offensive linemen cannot go down field, that doesn’t mean they can’t step into the defender. We tell our kids to step into the defenders. Many times when youth football linemen step back to pass block, they will get bulled over.  Attack the block, do not step back.
  • To discourage interior penetration you can move your line splits down to 1 foot or to zero splits and have the linemen step down. We usually are at 2 foot splits. If we are weaker on the offensive line we will tighten up our splits on pass plays. This will suck the defense in.
  • Have quick hitting/crisp passing plays.  You cannot ask your linemen to pass block for too long.

(See Also)Pass Blocking Scheme

Line Splits

Line splits are a vital aspect of offensive line blocking techniques.

Credit Image: beaumontenterprise.com

• If you are undersized up front, choose a blocking scheme that will utilize double team blocks.
• Bring the splits down to 1 foot or to zero. This will allow you to double team interior defensive linemen.
• You can also widen the splits. Widening the line splits will spread the defense out horizontally. Spreading the defense out horizontally will create great blocking angles and natural running lanes inside. Sometimes going zero line splits is not a good idea. It will suck the entire defense inside. This will sometimes create a mess inside- making it difficult to find running room inside.
• It is your job as the coach to select the proper line splits for your offensive linemen.

Snap Count

Utilizing the snap count is another underrated and under utilized aspect of offensive line blocking techniques. Mix your snap counts up from the first day of practice. If you practice it enough your players will learn not to go off-sides.

• Slow down the defensive rush by mixing up your snap counts. Make the defense watch the ball rather than just allowing the defense to react and time your snap count. If they are able to time your snap count your offensive will be in trouble.
• Have fast counts and long counts.
• Have a quick silent count.
• Every offensive drill should begin on a snap count.

Blocking Scheme

Utilizing your blocking scheme for effective offensive line blocking techniques.

• If you have smaller offensive linemen you can use a down blocking scheme. This will have every offensive linemen block down. This will allow for excellent blocking angles on defensive linemen.
• GOD blocking scheme (most common): Gap-On-Down means the offensive linemen is responsible for securing their inside gap first. If there is no defender in the offensive linemen’s inside gap, he blocks a defender over. If there is no defender over, the O-linemen blocks down on next defender (or even a linebacker).
• Base blocking, big on big. I never have my kids base block. It is asking too much from them. What I personally do is we down block on interior defenders and kick-out  the edge defenders on inside plays. We will seal or crack the edge defenders on outside attacking plays.

Here is a link to additional offensive line articles.

(See Also)Getting into a Three Point Stance 

(See Also)Skip Pulling for OL

(See Also)Pulling Offensive linemen in Youth Football | Technique 


Article Name

Offensive Line Blocking Techniques


The game of football is won at the line of scrimmage. If you control the line of scrimmage you will control the game. Offensive line blocking techniques like run and pass blocking need to be practiced every single practice.


Coach Jeff Hemhauser

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