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Maintaining Pad Level: Staying Low and Powerful

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    Sports Tips

Maintaining Pad Level: Staying Low and Powerful

In the gridiron game, dominance often hinges on one critical aspect: keeping a low pad level. Whether it's the ferocious battle in the trenches or stonewalling a blitzing linebacker, mastering pad level is crucial for success in both pass protection and run blocking. Let's dive into advanced techniques and coaching wisdom to keep your pad level low and your power high.

Why Pad Level Matters

Pad level is all about leverage. When you stay low, you use the natural force and strength of your body to control and overpower your opponent. High pad levels can leave you off-balance and susceptible to being overpowered or knocked off your block.

Key Principles of Pad Level:

Bend at the KneesKeeping knees bent maintains balance and leg power, essential for both pass protection and run blocking.
Flat BackEnsures your body weight is evenly distributed, providing a sturdy base to drive power through your hips and into your opponent.
Head Up, Eyes ForwardPrevents overextending and keeps you in control, ready to react to your opponent's movements.

Techniques for Maintaining a Low Pad Level

Pass Protection Techniques

  1. Set and Strike:

    • Set: At the snap, take short, quick steps while keeping your back straight, knees bent, and chest low.
    • Strike: Engage with your arms, keeping thumbs up and elbows in to prevent defenders from getting into your body.

    Coaching Tip: Drill the "Kick Slide" technique to keep your pad level low while moving laterally.

  2. Anchor Technique:

    • Drop your hips and sink lower when absorbing a bull rush.
    • Plant your outside foot and drive through your legs to neutralize the defender's momentum.

    Player Insight: Practice against a sled or heavy bag to work on sinking your hips without losing balance.

Run Blocking Techniques

  1. Drive Blocking:

    • Fire off the line with a low stance, keeping your head up and eyes on your target.
    • Engage with your hands inside the defender's chest plate, focusing on driving through your hips and legs.

    Coaching Tip: Use "half-speed" drills to enforce technique without the hesitation that comes with full-contact drills.

  2. Combo Blocks:

    • Work in tandem with your line mate to double team an initial defender.
    • Ensure you maintain a low pad level to control your initial block before moving to the second level.

    Player Insight: Communicate with your line partner to ensure neither of you rises too quickly during the transition.

Drills to Enhance Pad Level

The Chute Drill

  • Purpose: Forces players to come off the line low.
  • Setup: Use a low chute or two hurdles spaced close together.
  • Execution: Fire out under the chute, maintaining a flat back and bent knees.

Mirror Drill

  • Purpose: Enhances lateral movement while maintaining pad level during pass protection.
  • Setup: Partner up with another player and face off.
  • Execution: Mimic your partner's movements while keeping pad level low.

Coaching Wisdom

A low pad level doesn't mean sacrificing agility or speed. Emphasize explosive movements that begin from the ground up. Strong, flexible hips are vital for maintaining a low pad level while still allowing for quick, dynamic moves on the field.

By consistently drilling these techniques and principles, players can achieve a low pad level that translates to dominating performances on game day. As the adage goes, "low man wins," and with these strategies, you'll be the one winning the battle in the trenches.