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Run Blocking: Opening Up Running Lanes

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    Sports Tips

Run Blocking: Opening Up Running Lanes

Effective run blocking is the backbone of a successful ground attack in football. Offensive linemen must master various strategies and techniques to open up running lanes for their backs. In this comprehensive guide, we'll blend player knowledge with coaching wisdom to discuss key elements such as understanding blocking schemes, maintaining leverage, and driving through defenders.

Understanding Blocking Schemes

At the heart of effective run blocking is a solid grasp of blocking schemes. These schemes are the blueprints for how linemen coordinate to create running lanes. Let's break down some of the most common types:

Blocking SchemeDescription
Man BlockingEach lineman is responsible for a specific defender, engaging one-on-one battles in the trenches.
Zone BlockingLinemen block areas rather than specific defenders, aiming to create cutback lanes for the runner.
Pulling & TrappingLinemen pull from their usual positions to block defenders from different angles, often unexpected
Gap BlockingGuards or tackles target specific gaps to create running lanes, regardless of the positioning of defenders.

Man Blocking

  • Assignments: Each lineman targets a specific defender to neutralize.
  • Technique: Focus on individual battles, using strength and technique to overpower opponents.

Zone Blocking

  • Flow: Linemen work together to move in unison, blocking anyone in their zone.
  • Benefits: Creates opportunities for the runner to find multiple lanes, depending on how the defense reacts.

Pulling & Trapping

  • Movement: Linemen move from their initial positions to create unexpected angles and leverage.
  • Surprise Element: Catch defensive players off guard, clearing paths for explosive plays.

Gap Blocking

  • Target Specificities: Focuses on clearing predetermined gaps.
  • Effectiveness: Forces defenders into less advantageous positions.

Maintaining Leverage

Leverage is the key to controlling the line of scrimmage. Here’s how to maintain it:

  1. Low Pad Level: The lower man wins; keeping your pads low gives you leverage and power.
  2. Hand Placement: Aim for the inside shoulder and keep your hands tight to control the defender.
  3. Base and Balance: Keep a wide base and balanced stance to maintain stability.

Driving Through Defenders

Once you’ve established leverage, the next step is driving through your defender:

  • Leg Drive: Power through with your legs to move the defender backwards.
  • Finishing Blocks: Don’t just initially engage — strive to maintain the block until the whistle.
  • Stay Agile: Even while driving, be ready to adjust based on the runner’s path.

Technique Drills

To help your linemen stay sharp, incorporate these drills into practice:

  1. Sled Push Drills: Emphasize leg drive and maintaining low pad level.
  2. Double-Team Drills: Practice working together to dominate bigger defenders.
  3. Angle Blocks: Train on hitting defenders from various angles to simulate game conditions.


The mastery of run blocking is both an art and a science. Combining the understanding of blocking schemes, maintaining proper leverage, and effectively driving through defenders will elevate any offensive line's performance. Whether you're a player looking to hone your skills or a coach striving to teach these techniques, this blend of strategy and nuanced execution can transform your team’s running game. Happy blocking, and may your running lanes always be open!