Individual Skills and Drills in the Option Practice (OL)
In my previous posts we have discussed more group and team practice concepts. I wanted to take the time to circle back and discuss individual skills and fundamentals that are essential in preparing players for option football. Let’s start by discussing offensive line fundamentals.
Stance and alignment are big starting points for teaching OL play. Stance should be shoulder width apart and as we begin to teach stance, we ask our lineman to jump up, on the whistle, and land and look at their feet. Typically, body dynamics create a shoulder width landing area for their feet and this becomes a great starting point when teaching stance. As we continue in teaching alignment, we instruct the players that there should be a small stagger of heel to instep between the feet with the inside foot furthest back. The next alignment is the player’s inside hand is down as it relates to which side of ball he is positioned. For example, a right guard would have his left foot back and his left hand down, like a defensive line stance in the fact that the butt is above the shoulders, forming a good “Z” bend power angle in the body with the heels slightly off the ground.
Alignments, or depth of the lineman in relation to the ball, are also critical in successful scooping and one-on-one blocking. We want to align the offensive lineman’s helmet on the centers hip, because as most state rules indicate that he becomes a lineman only when an offensive lineman’s helmet breaks the plane of the center’s hip. With this alignment, the player is in an optimal position to allow for proper scooping angles as well as angles for proper explosion when a covered offensive lineman must single block a defensive lineman. The final aspect of positioning deal with offensive line splits, which are critical in option football. We utilize a 3-foot split between all lineman from the center out. These splits allow us create vertical rush lanes and horizontal width for our B Back to be successful.
Step Progressions are Indy drills that emphasize a player’s first steps and the rolling the backside knee of an offensive lineman to the ground. These initial steps utilize the power angle created after the first up and over step on a base block. As we teach, we want to emphasize pushing the knee down towards the ground to load the hamstring and hips so it is easier to explode through a defender on the second step. These are great drills to do on a board and under a chute, if you have one.
As we progress, we want to emphasize a fast second step and hand placement drill. Here, if we can get our second step in the ground faster than the defender can get his first step in the ground, we win. So we progress and build on the step progressions by now adding a quick second step after our first up and over step, making sure we keep a good Z bend in our body and keeping our pad level low by flexing ankles, knees, and hips. Drill by Hand placement is also an essential element for offensive line play. There are certain hand placements and aiming points we discuss with our lineman and those hand placements and aiming points change based on the blocks that are to executed. Sample single blocks are Base, Down, Pull. Sample two person blocks are, Double Teams, Scoops.
Permian Drill is a great drill to execute the base block for Guards and Tackles. For example, a covered playside guard will need to base block a defender on inside veer. We use the same techniques and terminology as we do on the step progression board drills. The aiming point on permian drill is the screws of the helmet down the midline of the defender at breast plate level. You want to shoot your hands to the armpits and use the power Z you created in the body by rolling your backside knee to the ground and moving the defender, where he wants to go. The two key points here are the physicality of the block and taking the defender where he wants to go. In an even front, that defender covering the playside guard is the action key on IV for the B back. You always want to alleviate the anxiety of one on one blocks by having an action key, thus allowing the guard to tee off on the defender without worrying about getting beat, especially inside.
CAG, TAT, TAG are line call terms for double teams blocks within the schemes. CAG = Center and Guard, TAG = Tackle and Guard, and TAT = Tight end and Tackle. It's important that you have you lineman communicate before the play. They should yell out the defenders techniques, if they are covered or uncovered and any double team blocks that need to occur. For instance, on 12/13, all the lineman should be yelling ie. 5, 2i , 3, 5, then if needed the playside guard might yell TAG to the PST, which indicates a double team between the PSG and PST. We rep this a couple of different ways. We can use heavy bags, a sled, or bodies depending on what you have available. The main emphasis on double team blocks is to identify who is the drive player and who is the control player. The drive player is the offensive lineman that has the defender that needs to be double teamed covering him. The control player is the adjacent offensive lineman who isn’t covered but is in the double team. The drive player must establish dominance on the defender but using his permain drill techniques. The drive player must also step with his inside foot as he must be prepared for a linebacker plug. The control player uses an elongated 1st step (advantage step) with the inside foot closing the distance between yourself and the drive player. Its is very important to keep your toes pointed toward the goal line, this coaching point will keep the shoulders square, allow the lineman to work up field and for a backside linebacker if the down lineman works away. Because you are the control player, and have outside leverage, you will never come off the down lineman unless the the down defender crosses the face of the drive player or the backside backer fast flows over the top. In some instances, nether player will come off the block and can really establish dominance at the point of attack.
Scoop Drills are also critical line blocks in the option offense. We use agile bags and towels to help aid in teaching these blocks. If the offensive lineman scooping is uncovered, the first step should be a flat step that gains horizontal space. You want the lineman to take away as much of the split as you can with their first step. Their aiming point on the first step should be their ear hole to the near knee of the adjacent down lineman. The second step should gain ground and should start to get the backside shoulder pad past the near knee of the adjacent defensive lineman. The third step should take your ear hole across the far knee of the defensive lineman and start to gain control, the fourth step is a superman step, which throws you arms through the far leg of the defensive lineman. In some instances we wouldn't throw on the fourth step as we may want a vertical climb to second level defenders. If the offensive lineman scooping is covered then the first step should attack the far knee of the defensive lineman, and rip the back arm through the far thigh board, and climb to second level defenders. Vertical alignment is a big help in creating good scoop blocks. If the offensive lineman are off the ball and in the proper splits scoop blocking can be accomplished easier.
The Veer Drill (JT Drill), the scoop drills, and G/Trap drills, as well as all the above drills can be found by accessing this hudl preview: http://www.hudl.com/presview/220924 and http://www.hudl.com/presview/240108. Please make sure to use the old internet explorer as Chrome, Edge, and Firefox no longer support these presentations.
Our next blog post will continue with QB/B Back Indy Drills and as always feel free to discuss blog posts or ask questions on our forum page located here: http://flexbonenation.proboards.com/ If you have any questions please feel free to contact me on twitter @runthetriple or my email address firstname.lastname@example.org