Skip Pull Technique for the Offensive Line
“Skip” pulling is a type of pull that emphasizes keeping shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and keeping eyes on the defense. Also, it allows the linemen to pick up any defenders that might slip through the cracks at the point of attack. The “Skip” pull is a terrific technique to teach your guards while using a “gap” scheme for your Power-O, Shovel, or Inverted Veer plays. Also, it is useful in “Pin and Pull” schemes for Outside Zone, Stretch, or Toss plays.
To credit my source, I have been using Mike Devlin’s method of teaching the “skip” pull to my offensive linemen. Coach Devlin has been an offensive line coach in the NFL for the past few seasons, most recently with the Houston Texans.
- Normally, my offensive linemen will have their heels at equal depth in their stance. Neither foot is staggered. However, if one of the lineman is “skip” pulling, then I will tell him to stagger his outside heel about 1.5-inches back. The lineman will now be forced to step with his outside foot first. This is such a subtle change that the defense will have a tough time picking it up for tendency reasons.
- The lineman’s first step out of his stance will be with his outside foot. Approximately, it will be a 2-inch back step keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. Do not let the lineman pop up.
- For the second step, the lineman will step with his inside foot, gaining depth and width towards the pulling side. I like to call it the “gather” step.
- For the third step, the lineman will slide his outside foot towards his inside foot, thus forming the “skip.”
- For every step thereafter, the lineman will be on a course towards the desired landing spot.
Skip Pull Drill
- One Step
- The offensive lineman will take his normal stance while knowing which way he is pulling. He must know this in order to stagger the correct heel.
- On first sound, the lineman will take his first step back with his outside heel, holding in place afterwards. Shoulders must stay low to avoid “popping” up. This drill can be done in the chute.
- Have the lineman get in his stance again, and repeat two more times. Make sure to pause each time to make sure that he is low and not being lazy.
- Two Steps
- Same as above except on the first sound, the lineman will take his first step and on the second sound, he will take his second step with his inside foot. His gate will be open and it will look as if he has no leverage, but it will force him to keep shoulders square and he will not have to worry about making contact until later in the pull.
- Have the lineman hold in place and make sure his shoulders are still low. He might pop up a little bit, but make sure he hasn’t stood straight up.
- Same as above. Repeat two more times and make sure to pause each time.
- Three Steps and Finish
- The first two sounds will be the same as above. On the third sound, the lineman will finish his pull by bringing his outside foot with him, forming the “skip,” and get to his desired landing spot. Some players will skip twice to get to their spot and some will use the “karaoke” technique.
- I would use cones to set up where the desired landing spot would be. Make sure to tell your lineman to avoid going upfield until he has hit the cone.
- Put the first three parts of the drill together and have the lineman “skip” pull from cadence in full speed. The younger, more unathletic linemen will take longer to grasp the concept than your older, more experienced players.
- Repeat Steps 1-4 going in the opposite pull direction.
Eventually, you will see that the first, second, and third steps will almost move in unison. The more reps that the lineman gets, the more he will get used to this movement. You will begin to see it “click” in some players during the first week of drilling, but some you might not see until later on in the season. It takes time, patience, and reps, but the benefits are worth it.
(Watch Right Guard on the Game Film)
- Key Coaching Points
- Shoulders square at all times, keeping eyes up and staying low.
- Must take back step first, then gather.
- Emphasize the FINISH!!! Have a defender hold a bag and make sure the lineman brings his hips. into his block at the 2nd.
- Work on steps and progression first, then full movement into bringing it altogether.
- Remind linemen that they can work on this before and after practice.
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