Gap vs. Zone Run Blocking Schemes

gap vs zone blocking scheme

In football there are two main types of blocking schemes. These two are Zone Schemes and Gap Schemes. These are both effective schemes and can be very good for teams, but as a play caller it’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses of each scheme and how they fit into your toolbox as a play caller.

Gap vs. Zone Run Blocking Schemes

Zone Blocking Scheme 

A Zone scheme is based around the idea that the line will be responsible for the gap to the side the play is going. They are not blocking a man but an area. This means that they will run their path and deal with any defender that shows up. The idea with this scheme is for the offensive linemen to stay attached to the defender that is in their zone. They do not need a physically dominant block, instead they need to ensure that they cover the defender up and create a clean read for the running back.

Gap vs. Zone Run Blocking Schemes


One of the key elements of this scheme is the running back. In the Zone scheme the running back has to be able to understand the blocking assignments and how they fit into his path. We give our running backs an aiming point where he is going to try to get to. If he gets to this point and the hole is open he will attack downhill. If he see that hole being close he will look to cut it back and get directly up field.

Related Content: Inside Zone Wham Series 

Gap Blocking Scheme 

The other type of blocking scheme is a gap blocking schemes. A gap scheme uses leverage to give the offensive linemen an advantage over physically superior defensive linemen. In a gap scheme the offensive linemen on the playside will block down, or away from the gap where the runner is going. This will leave one defender unaccounted for outside of the gap where the ball is going. The offense will pull a lineman from the backside of the play to block this defender out. The result is a hole that develops between the pulling offensive lineman and the down blocks that should combine to form a wall.

Gap Blocking

The running back in the gap scheme is equally important as in a zone scheme. While he will not have as many reads, it is more difficult to get him to stay tight to the wall and stay patient. We tell the running back that he wants to ride the wall as tight as possible. If he can stay tight to the wall the pulling lineman will knock any defender out. Because the wall blocks come earlier in the play and have the advantage of leverage, they tend to be more stable blocks than the kick-out block. This makes it a smoother surface for the running back to base his path on. We tell the runner that he is going to ride the wall through the box. Once he clears the box he should have one Safety to beat.

Related Content: Zone Blocking Plays for Youth Football 

Gap and Zone schemes both have an important role in an offense. As a general rule Gap schemes are more effective if your offensive linemen are not physically as strong as the defensive linemen and can help to deal with stunts and twists. Zone Schemes are great ways to feature a runner with great vision and punish fast flowing linebackers.

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