If you want to be a good defensive player, you must be able to shed blocks. Offensive linemen try to block defensive linemen and linebackers so they can’t get to ball carriers or rush the quarterback. Defensive backs must be able to get off blocks to make tackles in the open field. If a player cannot shed a block, he is not able to make a play on the ball or ball carrier which makes him irrelevant and ineffective during the play.
Shedding the high and low block are the most common. When shedding the high block it is important to:
- Align your feet with the shoulders of the blocker. This is called the “same-foot same-shoulder” principle, and will help you change direction while escaping a block.
- Extend both arms fully when engaging a blocker. Using the hands effectively is one key to shedding blocks.
- Strike the shoulders of the blocker with the hands. Your thumbs must be pointed up, and the strike is quick and powerful. The goal is to stop the momentum of the blocker and to not allow him to get his hands into your body. This is called “locking out.”
- Disengage the backside arm. For example, if the ball carrier is running to your left, disengage your right arm from the blocker
- Push the blocker across your body and out of the way using your still-engaged arm. For example, if the ball carrier is running to your left, push the would-be blocker to your right using your left arm. You also can drive your disengaged arm through the hip of the blocker and under the opposite arm of the blocker in an uppercut motion. This is called a rip move.
When shedding low blocks, it is important to:
- Focus your eyes on the blocker when he is coming in low.
- Place your hands on the top of the helmet or shoulder pads of the oncoming blocker.
- Thrust your feet, or hop backward. Keep your shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage. This will give you leverage on the blocker.
- Push, or “stuff,” the blocker into the ground using your hands. Step 3 will give you extra momentum and leverage for doing so.
Out of the entire defense, linebackers are more likely to shed blocks because they have the opportunity to get to the ball on every play from the line of scrimmage or break through on a blitz. There will be blockers along the linebacker’s path to the ball and it’s important he has good block shedding technique in order to take on blockers, shed them, and get to the ball. It is important for all of the defense to know how to shed blocks in order to put more pressure on the pass or run.
The Coaches Chair and Livestrong contributed to this report.
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