One thing that offensive lines struggle with at all levels is how to adapt the blocking schemes for the upcoming opponent. One way to decrease these questions is to use less blocking schemes so that the offensive line is comfortable against different looks. While this eliminates much of the confusion, lots of times the line will have questions at the start of the week. We use a variety of different teaching tools to discuss how we will be handling the upcoming front and to address different styles of learners and ensure that our whole unit knows their assignment.
Weekly Progression For Preparing the Offensive Line
We start the week by going on a whiteboard and showing what we expect to see and how we want to block it. This is a great whole group instruction and is especially helpful for the visual learners. To make things a little more concrete we will also use poker chips and set up the expected front and how we plan on blocking it. This tends to work very well for the tactile learners but is an effective tools for visual learners as they start to see how we will form the wall on our gap plays.
From here we will go onto the field and walk through our new installs. This is done with the whole team against air. While I would like to say the line is a focus during this time, it is mainly a time for the skill players. The majority of our plays are based around 2-3 run blocking concepts so there isn’t much new learning for the line. After this period the line will work on their blocking techniques through their Everyday Drills. Here there is almost no attention paid to the upcoming opponent, instead the focus is on the skills that we will need to make our blocks.
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We finish practice with a tempo period on bags. Here the line will get a chance to go through the run schemes against the looks we expect to see. This is a good time to see the base level of our offensive line and how much they understand each scheme. While this is happening our offensive line coach is standing behind the team with a play sheet and marking down each one that the line makes a mistake on. During this period the goal is tempo so we are not correcting mistakes then. Instead, we take notes of what plays we need to correct and then address them during our barrels period.
During our barrels period we will take the offensive line, quarterback and running back and have them take off their pads. We then set up barrels to represent the defensive front. We’ve used a lot of different things for barrels including trash cans and water storage barrels but the best by far are the orange construction barrels that have the handle on the top. Once we have our barrels set up we will go through all of our main running schemes against the barrels. This is a time when the linemen are allowed to ask any questions and get clarification on what they are doing. Once we have moved through the schemes we will go back and rerun any play we made a mistake on.
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By going through our new run game installs in a systematic way we ensure that we have addressed the learning needs of our whole offensive line. This has been a system that has developed over time, we have changed our approach to meet the needs of our players. I’m sure as time goes on we will continue to change and add different approaches to prepare our players to do their best.