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Handling Stunts and Twists: Staying on Assignment

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    Sports Tips

Handling Stunts and Twists: Staying on Assignment

Defensive stunts and twists are the bread and butter of many defensive coordinators aiming to disrupt the offensive line and create havoc in the backfield. For offensive linemen and their coaches, handling these tactics requires a blend of communication, quick recognition, and strict assignment discipline. Below, we delve into expert strategies to help you stay on top of your game.

Understanding Stunts and Twists

Stunts involve defensive linemen crisscrossing or looping around each other to confuse the offensive line. Twists are a type of stunt where one defensive lineman engages a blocker, and another loops around into the vacated gap. These plays aim to free up a defender and pressure the quarterback or disrupt the running game.

Strategies for Success

1. Effective Communication

Communication is paramount in managing stunts and twists. The offensive line must operate as a cohesive unit, constantly sharing information about potential threats.

  • Pre-Snap Adjustments: Watch for pre-snap tells from the defense. Defensive line alignments or shifts can indicate an impending stunt or twist.
  • Line Calls: Establish universal line calls for different scenarios. Use these calls to alert each other of possible stunts or twists. For example, a simple "T" call can indicate a potential twist.
  • Constant Chatter: Keep talking post-snap until blocks are secured and the play is complete.

2. Quick Recognition

Recognizing stunts and twists quickly is crucial to neutralizing them effectively.

  • Film Study: Consistently study game film to identify patterns and tendencies in the opponent’s defense.
  • Live Reps: Practice live scenarios against defensive stunts and twists regularly. The more reps, the better the recognition.
  • Key Reads: Train your linemen to watch key indicators, such as the stance and initial movement of the defensive linemen.

3. Maintaining Assignment Discipline

Maintaining assignment discipline ensures every lineman knows their responsibility and adheres to it, even in the chaos of a stunt or twist.

  • Gap Integrity: Emphasize the importance of maintaining gap integrity. Each lineman must know their primary and secondary gaps at all times.
  • Pass-Off Technique: Develop and drill effective pass-off techniques. Ensure linemen can smoothly transition and hand off defenders to avoid blown assignments.
  • Stay Patient: Drill the importance of patience. Jumping to conclusions or biting on fake movements can lead to disastrous results.

Example Scenario Breakdown

Consider a basic stunt known as a T-E stunt (Tackle-End stunt):

  1. Pre-Snap: Center identifies a potential stunt and makes a "T" call.
  2. Snap: Defensive tackle engages the guard, pushing inside.
  3. Twist: Defensive end loops behind the tackle into the vacated space.
  4. Response: Guard solidifies his inside block and immediately passes off to the center, who picks up the tackle. The tackle quickly adjusts to pick up the looping end with the guard taking help if needed.

Practice Drill:

A simple but effective drill to practice stunts and twists involves:

  1. Choose Pairing: Pair up linemen in groups (e.g., guard and tackle).
  2. Stunt Simulation: Defensive players simulate common stunts (e.g., T-E, E-T).
  3. Movement: On the snap, simulate defensive line movements while offensive linemen practice pass-offs and maintaining gap discipline.
  4. Rotation: Rotate defenders often to simulate different opponents’ stunts.


Successfully managing defensive stunts and twists demands rigorous preparation, seamless communication, and disciplined execution. By incorporating these strategies into your training regimen, your offensive line can stay one step ahead of the defense and keep the play alive.

Key PointsStrategies
CommunicationPre-snap adjustments, line calls, chatter
Quick RecognitionFilm study, live reps, key reads
Assignment DisciplineGap integrity, pass-off technique, patience

Remember, in the trenches, it's all about teamwork and trust. Stay on assignment, stay disciplined, and dominate the line of scrimmage.

Happy blocking!