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Pulling: Leading the Charge on Outside Runs

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    Sports Tips

Pulling: Leading the Charge on Outside Runs

Pulling is an essential skill set for guards in football, particularly when setting up outside runs. This maneuver requires a blend of agility, precision, and timing to open lanes for running backs. This article delves into the technique of pulling as a left guard, focusing on key aspects such as footwork, timing, and targeting defensive players in space.

The Mechanics of Pulling


Footwork is the foundation of an effective pull. The initial steps are crucial:

  1. Stance: Begin in a balanced three-point stance, with your weight evenly distributed and feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. First Step: Lead with your inside foot, a quick 6-inch step to open your hips.
  3. Pivot and Drive: Pivot on your inside foot, swinging your outside foot around. This motion should be fluid, like opening a door, keeping a low center of gravity.


Proper timing is what turns a good pull into a great one. Here’s how to perfect it:

  1. Snap Recognition: React to the center snapping the ball, but avoid false starts. Develop a keen awareness of snap counts and cadence.
  2. Synchronization: Your pull movement should sync with the quarterback's and running back's actions. Practice with your team to ensure cohesive execution.
  3. Burst Speed: Once the initial steps are complete, burst into the open space quickly. Speed is crucial to getting in front of the play and engaging your target defender.

Targeting Defensive Players

Identifying and hitting your target is the climax of a successful pull:

  1. Reading Defenders: Identify the most immediate threat to the play. This is usually an outside linebacker, defensive end, or a cornerback coming down in run support.
  2. Angles and Leverage: Approach the defender with the right angle. Aim for leverage, hitting him on the inside shoulder to seal off the running lane.
  3. Engage and Drive: Upon impact, maintain a strong base and drive the defender away from the play. Keep your hands inside the framework of their body to avoid penalties.

Practice Drills

Here are a couple of drills to hone the pulling technique:

Drill NameObjectiveDescription
Cone DrillEnhance agility and directional changesSet up cones in a zigzag pattern. Practice pulling through the cones, focusing on sharp cuts and quick pivots.
Target Hit DrillImprove targeting and impact accuracyUse a blocking sled or a dummy as the target. Simulate the pull and engage the sled/dummy on your coach's signal.

Coach's Corner: Wisdom for Aspiring Left Guards

  1. Stay Low, Stay Powerful: Low pads win. Keeping a low center of gravity ensures that you maintain power and balance through the pull.
  2. Eyes Up: Always keep your head on a swivel. Scan the field for potential defensive threats and adjust your target if needed.
  3. Consistency is Key: Repetition builds muscle memory. The more you practice your pull motion, the more automatic it becomes during game situations.

Player Insights: Voices from the Field

Interview with All-Pro Left Guard

Q: What's the biggest challenge when executing a pull? "A: Timing is everything. You have to be fast but under control. Hitting your target on the move without over-committing is a real art."

Q: Any specific tips for young players? "A: Always work on your footwork. Quick feet can save you even when you mess up the timing. And remember, agility over bulk — the game's moving towards speed."

Pulling as a left guard is an art form that combines technical skill, athleticism, and intelligent playmaking. By mastering footwork, timing, and targeting, you can lead the charge on outside runs, creating game-changing plays for your team. Keep practicing, stay disciplined, and always seek to elevate your game.