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Pulling: Leading the Way on Outside Runs

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    Sports Tips

Pulling: Leading the Way on Outside Runs

Executing an outside run play successfully relies heavily on the technique and precision of the offensive line, particularly the left tackle. Pulling as a left tackle requires a meticulous blend of footwork, timing, and the ability to locate and neutralize defensive players in space. Let’s break down these critical components:

The Art of Pulling

Pulling involves the offensive lineman, usually a tackle or guard, moving laterally to lead block for the running back on outside runs. Here, we’ll focus on the left tackle’s role in this dance of agility and power.

Footwork: Keeping It Clean

Proper footwork is the foundation of an effective pull. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Initial Step:
    • Kick Slide: Start with a quick, sharp kick slide away from the line of scrimmage to avoid any immediate engagement with nearby defenders.
  2. Crossover Steps:
    • Maintain a low center of gravity and use short, powerful crossover steps to create lateral movement. The goal here is to keep your hips square to the line of scrimmage.
  3. Turn and Burn:
    • As you approach the edge, pivot your inside foot towards your target. This pivot should be fluid to maintain momentum and balance.

Timing: The Invisible Clock

The success of an outside run can hinge on the split-second timing of your pull:

  1. Snap Read:
    • Anticipate the snap count like a hawk. The moment the ball is snapped, your first step must be explosive.
  2. Synchronize with Backfield:
    • Ensure your movement aligns with the running back’s path. Consistently practice with your backfield to achieve seamless synchronization.
  3. Hesitation Be Gone:
    • Do not hesitate in the pulling motion. Any delay can disrupt the flow of the play and give defenders the opportunity to clog running lanes.

Targeting Defensive Players: Clearing the Path

Once you’ve mastered footwork and timing, the final piece of the puzzle is effective targeting:

  1. Pre-Snap Read:
    • Identify the key defensive players who could potentially disrupt the play. This often includes outside linebackers or defensive ends.
  2. Point of Contact:
    • Aim for a strong, solid contact at the defender’s numbers. Use your hands to steer them away from the intended running lane.
  3. Seal the Edge:
    • Once engaged, your goal is to either drive the defender out of bounds or turn them inward, creating a clear path on the outside for the running back.

Pulling Techniques Table

To aid in understanding, here’s a concise table summarizing the primary techniques in pulling as a left tackle:

TechniqueKey ActionsTips
Initial StepKick SlideStart explosively, avoid early defender contact
Crossover StepsShort, powerful lateral movementsKeep hips square to scrimmage, maintain balance
Turn and BurnPivot inside foot towards targetFluid pivot to maintain momentum
Snap ReadAnticipate and react instantlySynchronize with snap count
Synchronize with RBAlign movement with running back’s pathPractice consistently with backfield
Pre-Snap ReadIdentify potential defensive disruptors (OLB, DE)Quick assessment of defensive alignment
Point of ContactStrong, solid contact at defender’s numbersUse hands to steer defenders
Seal the EdgeDrive defender out of bounds or turn inwardClear the path for running back


Pulling as a left tackle on outside runs is more than just a physical act—it’s a symphony of movement, timing, and strategic targeting. Mastering this skill can transform any outside run into a game-changing play. Embrace these techniques, practice rigorously, and lead the way to victory!