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Pulling: Leading the Way on Outside Runs

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    Sports Tips

Pulling: Leading the Way on Outside Runs

When you think of a right tackle in football, you might envision a hulking figure, immovable in pass protection. However, one of the most dynamic and exciting roles for a right tackle is the ability to "pull" on outside running plays. This technique requires finesse, timing, and athleticism to execute effectively. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of this crucial skill, blending player insight and coaching wisdom.

Understanding the Pull

Pulling is a technique where the right tackle (RT) moves laterally or diagonally across the line of scrimmage to block defenders in space, opening up lanes for the running back. The RT's ability to get out in front and clear the path is pivotal for the success of outside runs like sweeps, tosses, and off-tackle plays.

Key Components of a Successful Pull

  1. Footwork
  2. Timing
  3. Targeting

Footwork: Foundation of the Pull

The first step in perfecting the pull is mastering proper footwork. The RT must pivot smoothly and take calculated steps that allow for rapid lateral movement without sacrificing balance.

Steps for Effective Footwork:

  • Step 1: Kick Slide
    • Push off with the inside foot (right foot for RT) and slide the left foot laterally. This helps in opening the hips.
  • Step 2: Crossover Step
    • The right foot should then cross over the left foot. This motion should be quick and seamless.
  • Step 3: Acceleration
    • After the crossover, accelerate by taking short, controlled steps to maintain balance and speed.
    Footwork StepDescriptionKey Focus
    Kick SlidePush off inside foot, slide laterallyHip mobility
    CrossoverRight foot over leftQuick transition
    AccelerationShort, controlled stepsBalance & Speed

Timing: The Synchronization Act

The success of a pulling play is highly dependent on timing. The RT must time their movement to align with the snap count and the trajectory of the running back.

Best Practices for Timing:

  • Anticipate the Snap: Develop a keen sense of the snap count to avoid false starts or delayed reactions.
  • Watch the Ball: Key your movement on the snapping of the ball, not just auditory cues.

Timing Drill:

Use a tennis ball drill to enhance reaction times. Position a coach or teammate to drop a tennis ball simultaneously with the snap. The RT's goal is to react in sync with the ball drop.

Targeting: Hitting the Right Marks

Once the RT is in motion, the final piece is targeting—identifying and engaging the correct defensive player.

Steps for Effective Targeting:

  • **Scan the Field: ** The RT should keep their head on a swivel, identifying the first defender in space.

  • **Engage & Drive: ** Upon identifying the target, the RT must engage decisively using proper blocking techniques—whether it’s a pancake block, seal block, or drive block.

  • **Adjust on the Fly: ** Defensive players will try to evade your block. Be prepared to adjust and sustain your block until the runner is clear.

    Targeting StepDescriptionKey Focus
    Scan the FieldIdentify the first defender in spaceSituational Awareness
    Engage & DriveUtilize proper blocking techniquesExecution
    AdjustBe adaptable to defensive movementsFlexibility

Pro Tips and Tricks

  • Film Study: Regularly review game film to understand defensive tendencies and alignments.
  • Conditioning: Stay in top shape to maintain the agility required for pulling.
  • Communication: Work closely with your guards and center to perfect timing and coordination.

Player Wisdom:

“As an RT, pulling is all about mindset. You’ve got to be aggressive but patient, powerful yet nimble. It’s about marrying brute strength with ballet-like precision.” - Veteran Right Tackle

Coaching Insight:

“Teach your tackles to visualize the play. If they can see themselves executing every pull with precision in their minds, they’re halfway there.” - Offensive Line Coach

By mastering the technique of pulling, a right tackle can transform the dynamics of outside runs, opening up endless possibilities for the offense. Whether you’re a player on the field or coaching from the sidelines, embracing the intricacies of this skill will elevate your run game to new heights.

Happy Blocking!