Pulling and Kicking Out: The Keys to Success

 

Being an Offensive lineman is tough. We don't get to score touchdowns, we don't often get chosen as homecoming king and we seldom get our names put in the newspaper or called over the loudspeaker, save for holding and false start penalties. The game pays us off in a much more subtle way, and its almost never an immediate payoff.

Our version of the game winning touchdown run is the explosive pancake block, or a dominating drive block that blows a wide-open hole for the ball carrier to run through. The opportunity to make such plays aren't presented on every play, and when they do come around they aren't always presented as sure bets before the snap even happens. 

Pulling to kick out is a rare situation that you can be sure that you'll get that opportunity. 

These are the types of plays that OL play the game for. A violent hit on an often unsuspecting player that can result in big highlight runs featuring you, right at the point of attack!

It would be a shame to EVER miss on this kind of opportunity.

Here are some tips to help you ensure that you are on the winning side of the coin for this dream of a block:

 

1) GET SOME DEPTH (BUT NOT TOO MUCH)

Any time you pull, there is the threat that you get knocked off of your track by penetrators against the down and fill blockers that you're pulling against. The more gaps that you're covering, the higher the risk is. So, it stands to reason that the further you are pulling, the more depth you're going to need initially in your pull. On the kickout block, too much depth can be a problem as you close in on your target (see number 2) so be careful not to overdo it. The trap is a short pull, so you can get virtually no depth. But, on the counter or long trap, consider getting about a yard back before closing in on the inside of your target. Which brings us to number 2..

 

2) TAKE AN INSIDE-OUT TRACK

The fastest way to lose a kick out block is to have the defender cross your face into the hole. After establishing your initial depth, waste no time getting back up field so that you aren't leaving space for this to happen. The playside G and T should be taking their down blocks and/or double teams at least a few feet upfield, so once you clear the center, look to skim your path back into the original line of scrimmage near the G and T as shown in the picture. "Inside-out" simply means taking a track that puts the OUTSIDE half of your body onto the INSIDE half of the defender's body. 

 

3) USE THE SHOULDER... FOR SAFETY AND VIOLENCE


For obvious reasons, (concussions/long term health) you should aim to initiate contact with your helmet as little as possible. In this case, that leaves your options to using your shoulder pads or your hands. Blocking with the hands has plenty of benefits; on countless occasions that is the weapon of choice... but here, with such a high speed collision, they tend to get in the way and soften the blow of the contact. The two factors that need to be present for run blocking with the shoulder are A) extreme violence/speed in contact and B) heavy directional blocking i.e, protecting the B gap vs the C gap. This block includes both situations so the shoulder is a sure bet for success. Just remember to run the feet and bring the hips, hitting through the target and not just to him. Every bit of pad-level will help here, and never stop your feet!