Offensive Line by Blain White
Offensive Line Stance – The Feet

Submitted by Blain White
Lakin Kansas

With today’s more complicated and finesse based offenses, we have asked our linemen to perform more and more tasks that were previously considered unreasonable or even impossible for a lineman. With that in mind I find it difficult to believe that some coaches are still teaching the same techniques that were popular with the straight ahead power offenses, where the main job of the offensive lineman was to fire off straight ahead and drive block his opponent.

Most offenses that we see today require each of the linemen to be able to pull, trap, reach block, zone block and down block either right or left. At the same time they have to come off of the ball straight ahead with incredible quickness and power on a drive block or take a power step and retreat into a pass blocking position. Add this to the various different types of pass blocking and you are asking your linemen to perform skilled position tasks while putting them in a prohibitive stance.

I, along with many other coaches, have remedied this by making a minor adjustment to the stance of the linemen. Most of us were taught to stagger our feet in a toe-to-instep or toe-to-heel relationship. While this is a good stance for firing straight off of the ball, it is not so practical when the player is expected to move laterally, at angles, forward, or backward on any given play.

I have experimented with different stances with my players and have found, without a doubt, that the best foot placement for the offensive linemen is a toe-to-toe relationship. This allows for a comfortable and balanced stance. Most will agree that excellent offensive line play begins with an excellent stance. Part of this excellence is the confidence of the player that he has an advantage over his opponent. I strongly believe that a toe-to-toe relationship at the base of the stance gives your linemen that needed advantage. The toe-to-toe stance allows for a quicker, more powerful initial step as well as the versatility to move in any direction.

My initial purpose for this change was solely for the ease of footwork for my players. I have, however, realized considerable improvements that resulted from the change that were not related to the footwork. Some of them are:

Balanced stance – the hips and shoulders tend to be square to the body more so than in a traditional stance.
Reduces right-hand or left-hand dominance. It is easier for the player to get into a stance with either hand down.
Player can shift more or less weight on the hand without tipping off the opponent.
Player is less likely to stand straight up when settling into drop back pass protection.
Pulling or trapping linemen are less likely to lean in direction of initial step.
Less leg fatigue.
More likely to step with the correct foot first.
Better pulling/trapping technique
Initial step is shorter and more powerful – thus reducing overstepping on the initial power step.

When I first began teaching this technique many of my players had trouble getting their feet in the correct position. Remember, linemen are creatures of habit. Repetition will prove effective. When I was just about to give up and go back to the traditional stance with some of my players, I noticed a dramatic improvement in their play. It was at that point that I realized the payoff.

The drill that I use to get them used to getting into this stance is to have them break a huddle and sprint to a marked line with both toes on the line, then proceed into their stance. I do this every practice when we go through our stance and starts period. Our players wear trenches in our practice area from this drill.

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