The Importance of Proper O-Line Stance
Whether you run a Veer, Wing-T, Triple-Option or some other variation of an old drive blocking offense, it’s essential that your linemen get into the proper stance. A faulty stance will telegraph to defenders what the offensive plan is for a play.
A good stance will have the feet shoulder width apart and slightly staggered toe to instep.
Getting in a proper stance is the most important step for any offensive lineman. This will give them the power and stability they need to block defenders from multiple directions, allowing them to play in a variety of different schemes.
The first step of a good stance is to get your feet shoulder width apart and in line underneath your armpits. This is called the athletic stance and it helps to keep your lower body compact and strong.
It also helps to push your outside knee into a neutral position, making sure you are square to the line of scrimmage and parallel to the ground. You can also cock your hand back, much like a cowboy preparing to shoot a pistol in a duel, which will help you jolt your opponent with power coming from the hips up.
This is an important skill for OL to learn, as it will allow them to block against all types of rushes and still have good foot quickness against the best pass rushers in college and the NFL.
Keeping the shoulders square to the line of scrimmage is critical for pass protection. Any tilt or twist can tip off defenders to what the offensive linemen are about to do.
Getting the feet properly staggered is also important for pass protecting. The feet should be about shoulder-width apart in a three point stance with the inside foot being about on a line under the armpits. This stance will allow the offensive lineman to sink their tail and get in an athletic stance with good balance.
Many power running teams (Army/Navy and most Air Raid offenses) will use line splits that are much wider to give the offensive linemen more explosion coming out of their stance. This will help them win the battle of the run game vs the pass game. However, if the feet are too narrow the offensive lineman will lose leverage and power. They need to be able to move forward and backward at a high rate of speed while maintaining their balance.
Having balanced knees that aren’t over-extended or collapsed will help the offensive lineman keep their weight back on their feet. It will also allow them to move around the defender without giving away their intention to pull, drop, or fire off low. In the NFL, most offensive linemen suffer concussions on average from contact at the line of scrimmage when they aren’t in a two-point stance.
A good stance is essential to protecting the quarterback. It must allow the offensive lineman to move after the snap and provide power against a defender. It should also be stable, allowing them to maintain balance while striking. Guards should be able to keep their hands up at waist level, while tackles need to be in a staggered position where the toes of their outside foot is even with the heal of their inside foot (the cylinder). The center post-snap needs to essentially turn into either a guard or tackle depending on what play they are blocking.
Offensive linemen must be balanced, comfortable and ready to block defenders when they move off the snap. This starts with the feet, which must be positioned in proper two point or three point stances.
In a two point stance, the player’s hands should be in front of their body with fingers flexed, elbows tight to the body and shoulders squared to the LOS. The feet should be shoulder width apart with the toes directly ahead.
A new study has found that offensive linemen who begin their blocking in a two-point stance absorb 40% fewer head acceleration events than those who start from a three-point stance. The research, led by Purdue University engineers Thomas Talavage and Eric Nauman, used data from the Spring League (a professional-level developmental league). The researchers observed linemen during their initial movements off a snap. Their results were published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. The findings are encouraging for coaches, as it suggests that defensive linemen can make their first moves without the threat of a significant injury.