Pass Techniques
Splits And Stance - Footwork - Aiming Points And Landmarks - Executing And Finishing the Block

Defensive Games

Splits And Stance

Linemen’s splits are the spacing between adjacent linemen. Splits are generally determined according to the play called and the blocking assignment. There must be some level of consistency in your spacing from your line mate in order not to be obvious in certain situations. There is a minimum, maximum or smart split for each play. Generally a two-foot split can be used to help create natural running lanes.

Your alignment on or off the ball can be used as well. You must also know the rules. In the CFL your head and shoulders must be parallel to the line of scrimmage and must be within one yard of the line of scrimmage.

The use of these tools will not make the block for you but they will put you in a better position to make the block.

After you have approached the line of scrimmage and aligned yourself, you must now get in a good stance. Your stance is the base from which all the action starts. The key to a good stance is that you must be able to perform all actions from it. Whether it is pulling, run blocking, or pass blocking, you must not telegraph what you are doing or where you are going.

The keys to a good stance are:

  • Feet – Your weight should be on the balls of your feet with your feet staggered (based on position) and about shoulder width with your toes pointing straight ahead.
  • Knees – You should be on your insteps (the insides) of your feet with your knees not out and outside of your frame.
  • Back – Your back should be slightly angled up and not quite parallel to the ground. This will keep your leverage down and allow you to rise up through the block.
  • Head – Your head should be up but you should not be straining to see your opponent. Your eyes must be up.
  • Hands And Arms –
  • Your down hand must reach the ground while you maintain a comfortable and effective position. Fingers of down hand are spread to produce a tripod effect.

Your other arm can either rest on knee or beside your knee with your elbow tucked in. Your weight should be distributed over the three points on the ground with not too much emphasis put on your hand as this will make you lean and unable to perform pulling or pass protection.

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In the Canadian game where there are only 3 downs, the passing game has a much greater emphasis. The ability to pass block is somewhat of an art that requires great discipline and execution. A pass block is usually won or lost in the first few steps regardless of whether contact is made or not. Your feet and body position are that important to pass blocking.

The ability to anticipate the defenders moves must be developed, along with being able to make the proper adjustments or counter moves, without hesitation. In order to do this you must know your opponent inside and out. This takes hard work, study, concentration and dedication. The key to pass blocking is desire. You must refuse to lose.

The first step to a good pass block is your “set”. An offensive lineman must set quickly to get into a good position to take on the defender. Your set will depend on alignment and capabilities of your opponent. Getting and maintaining proper body and head position is a necessity.

There is a spot from which each pass is thrown and you must know where this spot is in order to protect the throwing area until the ball is released. On basic drop back pass the quarterback is directly behind the centre at between 6-10 yards. In order for the quarterback to throw the ball effectively he must be free of harassment or pressure and be able to see downfield. The centre and guards maintain the depth of the pocket while the tackles are responsible for maintaining the width of the pocket.

A few key points to remember:

  • Explode out of your stance and set quickly.
  • Maintain good body position, with your knees bent; head up and back with only a slight bend to prevent you from over extending.
  • Keep your hands up and ready to strike.
  • PUNCH! You must deliver a forceful blow to your opponent’s chest to try and stop his momentum. Strike from down to up in a lifting manner.
  • Never quit until you hear the whistle. Stay after your man.

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Aiming Points And Landmarks

Your set will vary by your position and the defenders alignment. As a general rule:


  • Head up technique; set to snapping hand.
  • Shaded technique; set to the crotch of the defender.
  • Must maintain the depth of the pocket by keeping the defender as close to the line of scrimmage as possible.


  • Inside technique; power set to split the crotch of defender. Stay square.
  • Head up technique; pick up and put down outside foot. Stay square.
  • Outside shaded technique or wider; kick maintaining inside presence and possibly alert twists.


  • Set quick, low and off of the line of scrimmage.
  • Must maintain the width of the pocket; therefore widen defender with body presence before settling with depth.
  • Never give up inside position, lock your crotch to inside leg of the defender.

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Executing And Finishing the Block

In order to effectively pass block, you must be able to maintain you body position. You must set with you knees bent, back slightly angled, and head up. Your hands must be in a position to deliver a blow or punch at all times. Your punch must be deliberate and explosive to the chest of the defender with the base of your palms. Always keep your thumbs up and out when you punch, which will also bring your elbows inside which will allow you more power.

Your feet must be very reactive to your defenders movements. You have to be planted to deliver a blow, but your feet cannot be stuck in the mud. Offensive lineman often lose one on one battles even though they had a great set and punch, but left their feet still as the defender kept on gaining ground.

Finish requires heart and determination. An offensive lineman must refuse to lose, and never accept defeat.

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Defensive Games

The key to stopping any kind of games or twists is to stop the penetration. If you allow a defender to get up the field and get offensive linemen on different levels, they will win every time. You must also keep you shoulder as square a possible to the line of scrimmage.

When you have the penetrator, in order for you to be able to react to the looper, you must forcefully ‘snap’ off of the defender to get in position to handle the defender coming around.

The lineman with the looper must always communicate by yelling to his line mate. Twist, switch, etc. will alert your line mate that something is happening.

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