The Types of Blocks in American Football

Knowing one type of American football block from another can help you impress a diehard fan or want to play on the offensive line. Here’s the lowdown on some of the most common block types in football:

  • Chop block: The legal variety is used within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage to slow the opposition’s pass rush. A lineman blocks down low with his shoulders and arms, attempting to take the defender’s legs from underneath him and stop his momentum. If this play occurs 3 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage, the blocker is penalized 15 yards.

  • Cut-off block: Generally used on running plays, which are designed to allow a defensive player to come free, or untouched, across the line of scrimmage. After that happens, an offensive lineman deliberately gets in the way of this on-rushing defender. This block is sometimes called an angle block because the offensive lineman hits the defensive player from the side, or from an angle.

  • Double-team: Two linemen ganging up on one defensive player. It’s more common on pass plays when the center and a guard work together to stop the penetration of a talented inside pass-rusher. However, the double-team also works well on running plays, especially at the point of attack or at the place where the play is designed to go. The double-team blockers attack one defender, clearing out the one player who might stop the play from working.

  • Drive block: This one-on-one block is used most often when a defensive lineman lines up directly over an offensive lineman. The blocker usually explodes out of a three-point stance and drives his hips forward, delivering the block from a wide base while keeping his head up and his shoulders square.

  • Man-on-man blocking: The straight-ahead style of blocking, with a defender playing directly over you and you driving straight into him. Most defenses use four linemen, so man-on-man blocking is common on pass plays, with each offensive lineman choosing the opponent opposite him, and the center helping out to either side.

  • Reach block: An offensive lineman reaches for the next defender, meaning he doesn’t block the opponent directly in front of him but moves for an opponent to either side. The reach block is common on run plays when the play calls for a guard to reach out and block an inside linebacker.

  • Slide block: The entire offensive line slides down the line of scrimmage — a coordinated effort by the line to go either right or left. It’s a good technique when the quarterback prefers to roll or sprint right, running outside the tackle while attempting to throw the football.

  • Trap block: The offensive line deliberately allows a defensive player to cross the line of scrimmage untouched, and then blocks him with a guard or tackle from the opposite side or where he’s not expecting it. The intent is to create a running lane in the area that the defender vacated.

  • Zone block: Each lineman protects a specific area or zone. Even if the defensive player leaves this area, the blocker must stay in his zone because the play or ball may be coming in that direction and the quarterback wants that area uncluttered. Blocking in a zone is generally designed to key on a specific defensive player who’s disrupting the offensive game plan.

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