Being a great offensive lineman is simple. In fact, most battles upfront on the line of scrimmage are won or lost based on three simple key fundamentals.
Now, don't make the mistake of confusing simple with easy. Being a great offensive lineman is not easy. You have to do the little things right and strive to be as perfect as possible. Simple simply means that it is not complicated.
As an offensive lineman, you don't have to be the strongest or fastest out there, but you do have to work hard at the little things. The good news is, working hard is something you can control (as opposed to having God-given talent).
At The OH Line Academy, we pay close attention to these key fundamentals at our camps, and even film sessions. By understanding and utilizing these three key fundamentals to your advantage, you will always be a step ahead of your opponent.
1) Aiming Point
Your aiming point on any run or pass block is the spot at which you are targeting your pad or punch. In order to be successful as an offensive lineman you need to be detailed and focused on this aiming point.
As the old saying goes, "wherever your eyes go, your body follows" Some easy landmarks for an aiming point are the numbers on an opponent's jersey. But being detailed and focused does not mean staring at the whole number. Rather, you need to direct your eyes to a particular spot on that number. In fact, you should be trying to focus on one particular mesh hole on that number. THAT is detailed.
Focusing your eyes on an aiming point allows you to track movement and not fall for a move your opponent tried to put on you to get off your block. If your eyes are down or not focused on that aiming point, all it takes is one move and your opponent will be past you, making a tackle.
2) First Two Steps
An offensive lineman's first two steps are often what makes or breaks a block.
In the run game these first two steps allows you to get to your aiming point and build momentum to drive the defender off the line of scrimmage. Your first two steps should be quick and violent.
Think of it this way - the first step essentially lines you up to be square with your aiming point. The second step is the power and force behind your run block. This is what actually drives your opponent off the line of scrimmage.
In the pass game, your first two steps are called your pass set. Your pass set is the position you put yourself in relative to the defender after you come out of your stance. If you over set against your defender, you give up in the inside move. If you underset and don't get out of your stance, you'll get beat on the edge.
To improve your pass set, try to maintain a proper relationship with the defender that protects the inside. For centers and guards, align your outside eye with your defenders inside ear. For tackles, align your outside ear to your defenders inside ear (or your crotch to the defender's hip).
3) Win the Leverage Battle
When you're on the offensive line, there are two ways to gain leverage against your opponents: vertically and horizontally.
Vertical leverage is more commonly known as pad level. If you want to win this battle, you need to get low—but how you get low is important. If you're bending at the waist, you're doing it wrong. To gain vertical leverage, bend at the knees and hips.
Horizontal leverage is all about getting inside hand position on your opponent. When it comes down to it, the man with inside hand position wins. To gain horizontal leverage, you need to practice resetting your hands inside on your defender. It is very common in high school football to see an offensive lineman get beat on a run or pass block because their hands are outside of the defenders frame. In some cases, it almost looks like he's trying to hug the defensive lineman! Offensive lineman don't hug. They block. Get your hands inside.
When run blocking, keep your elbows in and your hands square to the defender. This will help you gain horizontal leverage. If you feel your hand slip outside of your defender, replace your hand back inside by bringing it back under the shoulder pad.
When pass blocking, keep your hands inside while punching by touching the outside of your thumb/palm. If you did a good job identifying your aiming point, all you have to do is punch the spot.
Being a great offensive lineman isn't easy, but if you practice and utilize these three key fundamentals in run and pass blocking, you will be well on your way to being a dominant offensive lineman.
The OH Line Academy provides the best offensive lineman training in Columbus and Central Ohio. Our football camps, practices, film study, and strength and conditioning programs are all dedicated to developing middle school, high school, and collegiate offensive linemen. Want to dominate Friday night? Join our football academy today!