The defensive end in football is one of the most critical positions in the defensive scheme. The successful play of a defensive end will make the job easier for several other guys on the defensive unit. In a typical scheme there are two defensive ends, one on each side of the formation. Some teams utilize a “weak” and a “strong” defensive end, that will switch sides based on the strength of the formation. The job of a defensive end actually follows the job title; hold down the end on the line of scrimmage and don’t let anything outside.
A great defensive end has strong legs and quick on his feet. He has to be able to get separation from whichever blocker (or blockers) are trying to get past him. He’s able to quickly read (sometimes before the snap) whether it’s a pass or run play and adjust his rush accordingly. The most basic coaching tip for the defensive line is the stance. There are only three stances a d-lineman can get in: a two-point, three-point and four-point. Most defensive ends will start in a three-point stance. Let’s take a look at the differences in stances:
A 4-point stance is a great stance if you are trying to stop the run. It is effective against the pass, but not quite as good as the 3-point stance. To get into a 4-point stance, have your athletes spread their feet shoulder width apart and take a half step back with one foot so their back foots big toe should be lines up in the middle of the up foot. Then have them squat and put both hands on the ground then walk both hands up two small steps so that their back is level, head is up, so they should have a level plane from their head, shoulders, and hips. From this angle, the athletes will have a 45 degree angle on the snap and this will put your defensive linemen’s feet on the line-of –scrimmage after the snap and help with the leverage.
A 3-point stance is an adaptable stance because it is able to change between stopping the pass and the rush. To get into the 3-point stance, again spread your feet shoulder width apart, then with your inside leg take one step back where your inside foots big toe is lined up with your outside leg’s heal. Now bend down and walk your hands out two small steps. Your inside hand should be the down hand and it should be in line with your back foot. From this position, the athletes will be able to fire out of their stances at that 45 degree angle which will give them the leverage they need to win their individual battle.
The 2-point stance is used primarily by fast defensive ends and outside linebackers and only on passing downs. Unless a defensive lineman can run a fast 40 time, he should not use the two-point stance.
SB Nation and About.com contributed to this report.
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