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The Types of Blocks in Football: The Complete List

Posted by AJ Forbes on

One of the most confusing things about football is the terminology involved with it. It’s easy to get lost in semantics if you are not on the same page with the people you’re talking with. That confusion can be amplified when discussing Offensive Line play and the different blocks that they are responsible for executing on any given play.

This article is written in an effort not only to inform the masses about different types of blocks but to grow the appreciation for the responsibilities of the guys in the trenches.

Trap Block

A Trap block involves leaving a defensive lineman unblocked at the snap and then kicking him out with another lineman.

An Offensive Lineman or Fullback aims for the upfield shoulder of the Defensive Lineman in an effort to maintain inside leverage. The ball generally hits right behind this block.

The trap block is exactly what it sounds like, and it's typically used for plays such as Trap and Wham

Trap Block

The example above depicts the Trap block on a Trap play. The Right Guard climbs through the A-gap bubble to leave the 3-tech unblocked at the line of scrimmage.

After this happens, the Left Guard open pulls and aims for the upfield shoulder of the Defensive Tackle as the Center back blocks on the Nose Tackle. Between the down block and the Trap block is where the running lane develops.

Base Block

Base blocks are any 1-on-1 block between a blocker and a defender. They can occur in the run game, as well as in pass protection. Not only are the 1-on-1 blocks, but they are blocks that require the blocker to establish and maintain inside leverage.

Oftentimes, they are considered one of the more difficult blocks to execute due to the fact that the blocker has no help.

Base Block

On the left side of the diagram, there is an example of a Right Guard and a Right Tackle on the “man side” of a half-slide pass protection. As the Center slides away to the left, the Left Guard is responsible for blocking the Defensive Tackle in front of him without any help.

The same can be said for the Right Tackle. On the right side, there is an example of a Right Guard in a similar situation except in the run game. He could be on the front side of an inside zone or locked up on a man-on-man scheme, but regardless, he is still responsible for that Defensive Tackle.

Reach Block

The Reach block is a block that is executed in order to establish and maintain outside leverage on a defender on the front side of a run play.

At the snap, the player executing the Reach block takes a drop step on a 45-degree angle that sets his hips on that same angle. The blocker targets the outside shoulder, or the “far point”, of the defender and works on that 45-degree angle until he can get his helmet to that far point. It’s at this point where the defender is considered “reached”.

Reach Block

Reach blocks are almost exclusively used on perimeter runs. The example above depicts a Center reaching a Nose Tackle on an Outside Zone play. His goal is to get his helmet to the far point of the Nose Tackle and run with him to maintain outside leverage throughout the play. If he accomplishes these things, the Nose Tackle will be unable to pursue the ball carrier. 

Down Block

A Down block is an angle block on an inside Defensive Lineman or Linebacker on the frontside of a run play.

It’s called an “angle block” because the Offensive Lineman or Tight End executing it has favorable pre-snap leverage that he can maintain throughout the course of a play. The Offensive Lineman or Tight End aims for the near shoulder of the Defensive Lineman as he takes a 45-degree angle step down toward the defender.

Down Block

Down blocks are popular in gap run schemes with multiple down blocks and pullers. The diagram above shows a Right Tackle blocking down on a 3-tech with the ball going to the offense’s right side.

Since the ball is going to the right, the Right Tackle has great pre-snap leverage on the Defensive Tackle to keep him from where the ball is going. Down blocks are usually accompanied by either another down block or a pull from the Offensive Lineman inside of it. 

Log Block

The Log block is when an offensive lineman pulls and seals a defender inside of him to the frontside of the blocking scheme.

This can either be a reaction to a defender or a pre-determined means of executing a block depending on the type of play being run. If it’s a reactionary block, a player performing a kick out block of some kind realizes he can’t execute the kick out; therefore, he pins the defender to his inside.

If it’s pre-determined, it’s generally game-planned where the offense knows the edge defender won’t allow himself to get kicked out; therefore, the blocker gives the illusion of a kick out to force the defender inside. Either way, the ball is taken outside of the log block. This can be executed by an Offensive Lineman or a Tight End / Fullback. 

Log Block

One of the easiest examples of a Log block is a Guard’s kick out block on Counter, which is diagrammed above. The Guard’s initial goal is to pull and establish inside leverage on the edge defender by aiming for the upfield shoulder, creating a running lane to his inside hip.

If the edge defender “wrong-arms”–meaning he takes his outside arms and rips through to spill the play–the Guard cannot establish that inside leverage. By logging the edge defender, the Guard switches his aiming point to the far shoulder and pins the defender to the inside. 

Pull

A Pull is a generic term that describes when a blocker (usually an offensive lineman) takes himself from one position and runs around another offensive player to another position.

This can be done in a multitude of ways for a multitude of plays. A pull can be taking one player from one side of the formation to the other in an effort to gain a numbers advantage (i.e. Power or Counter). It can also be taking a player on one side of the formation, keeping him on that side, but changing where he’s blocking to gain a leverage advantage (i.e. Toss or Buck Sweep).

Offensive Lineman Pull

The diagram on the left side depicts a Guard pulling around the Center and up through the B-gap between the Right Guard and Right Tackle. This is the type of pull that occurs on Power and is meant to gain a numbers advantage at the point of attack.

On the right, there is a diagram that shows the Right Guard pulling around the Right Tackle and getting to the perimeter. This is the type of pull that would occur on some variation of Sweep to get an extra blocker out on the perimeter. 

Veer Block

A Veer block is where the blocker takes a drop step with their inside foot and rips through the defensive front with the goal to climb to the second level and block the linebackers. 

It is almost exclusively used in under-center triple option offenses. It’s a block executed on the playside of Veer Option . In order to properly perform a Veer block, the splits–or horizontal spacing–between the Offensive Linemen need to be relatively wide. This can be seen when you watch teams like the military academies (Army, Navy, and Air Force) play on Saturdays.

Veer Block

The above diagram shows a Right Guard and a Right Tackle executing Veer blocks against an Odd front. Both are taking a drop step with their left foot and ripping their right arm through the defensive front as they climb to the second level. The Right Tackle, in particular, is in a difficult circumstance due to the alignment of the Defensive End, so he has to emphasize that rip after gaining horizontal leverage at the snap to clear him. For the Right Guard, if the Nose Tackle slants his way, it essentially becomes a running combination block with the Center. 

Combo Block

A Combo block is a generic term that describes two offensive players (usually Offensive Linemen) blocking a first-level defender to a second-level defender.

It can occur on the frontside or backside of a play and on an inside or outside run. Depending on the play, a combo block can even vary on the angle of the first-level block by emphasizing vertical or horizontal displacement on the first-level defender.  

Combo Block

One example of a Combo block is between a Center and a Right guard on Inside Zone. The two are working together to displace the Nose Tackle while they keep both pairs of eyes on the second-level defender they are double-teaming to. Either player can come off the first-level block and block the Linebacker, but that is dependent on what the Linebacker does.

If the Linebacker comes downhill through the B-gap, the Right Guard comes off and leaves the Center to block the Nose Tackle; if the Linebacker flows over the top of the Nose Tackle to the left, the Right Guard works for more verticality on the double team as the Center keeps an eye on the Linebacker with the intention of coming off. The primary coaching point for the blockers is to keep their eyes on the second level while they block the first level with their hands and feet.

Drive Block

The Drive block is a type of one-on-one block (or base block) that is specific to the run game.

At the snap, the blocker is responsible for taking a defender and “driving” him off the line of scrimmage. In order to perform this block, the blocker needs to establish and maintain inside leverage on the defender throughout the course of the play. 

Drive Block

In the diagram above, the Right Tackle executes the Drive block on a Defensive End. This can happen on any inside run where the Tackle is responsible for the C-gap defender. In terms of footwork, there are two different ways to perform a Drive block.

He can drop step with his right foot and immediately attack the defender or he can take an initial inside step to ensure inside leverage, then go attack the defender. Which footwork is used can depend on the coach’s philosophy on teaching the block, the specific play that is being run, or the defender that the Drive block is being executed on. 

Double Team Block

A Double Team Block is the first part of a Combo block.

As previously mentioned, a Combo block is a generic term that describes two offensive players (usually Offensive Linemen) blocking a first-level defender to a second-level defender.

The Double Team is the first-level block in that situation. In some offenses, such as the Double Wing, there is no such thing as “coming off at the second level”. In that scenario, the Double Team’s sole purpose is to overpower one defender at the point of attack and move him off the line of scrimmage.

Double Team Block

The above diagram depicts a Double team between a Right Guard and a Right Tackle on a 3-tech. The Double Team consists of two parts: the “post player” and the “trail player”.

The post player (the Right Guard in this case) is the uncovered blocker and is responsible for establishing initial contact. As the post player sets up the defender, the trail player (the Right Tackle in this case) comes and adds to the double team, whether that be near-point contact on an inside run or far-point contact on an outside run. This post-trail relationship can be seen in any first-level Double Team. 

Scoop Block

A Scoop block is a specific type of combo block on the backside of a run play.

It can be seen as the backside version of a Reach block where both players involved in the Combo are looking to gain leverage on the far point of both the first and second-level defenders. This type of block can be seen in traditional Veer Option or on different variations of zone runs. Additionally, it follows the same post-trail principles discussed in the Double Team section.

Scoop Block In the above example, the Left Guard and Left Tackle have a Scoop block on the Defensive Tackle to the Linebacker over the Guard. While both players take deep drop steps–nearly parallel to the line of scrimmage–the Left Guard is responsible for establishing initial contact as the post player with a far shoulder aiming point.

The Left Tackle has the same far shoulder aiming point as the trail player and looks to take over the Defensive Tackle to allow the Left Guard to climb for the Linebacker. The second-level block has the same far-shoulder aiming point as the first-level block. Ideally, the Left Guard and Left Tackle are able to establish a backside seal that prevents either backside defender from getting involved in the play. 

Cut Block

The Cut block consists of diving at a defender’s legs–whether it be a run or pass–in an effort to get the defender down on the ground.

A blocker might want to get the defender on the ground for a variety of reasons: to get his hands down for a quick pass, to immediately stop any kind of pursuit to the ball at the line of scrimmage, or to attempt to salvage a block where the blocker lost leverage. 

Cut Block

Though it’s a rudimentary block, there still requires some teaching to do it well. One of the more prominent reasons to execute a Cut block in the modern game is to get first-level defenders’ hands down so the Quarterback can make a quick throw.

To do this, the Offensive Linemen take an initial set to sell a pass for the defender, then he dives at the near thigh of the defender closest to him. Even if the defender doesn’t get down on the ground, he will undoubtedly extend his arms down to the Offensive Lineman attempting to cut him. This is all that’s needed in this particular circumstance to have a successful block. 

Crack Block

A Crack block is a block where a perimeter player comes back toward the core of the formation with the intention of blocking an interior defender, like a Linebacker.

When we talk about angle blocks in the run game, most of the time we are talking about Offensive Linemen. However, the same idea can be applied to the perimeter. These blocks usually come when the offense is running some version of a perimeter run or quick screen. 

Crack Block

A prime example of the Crack block (sometimes called a crack-back block) is what former Auburn and current UCF head coach Gus Malzahn does with his Buck Sweep concept out of the shotgun. In the example above, the slot takes an upfield departure at the snap, but then immediately targets the upfield shoulder of the Linebacker in the box.

He targets the upfield shoulder so that the Linebacker doesn’t work over the top of the block on a better pursuit angle, and forces him to either stay blocked or work underneath. As the slot works down on the Crack block, there are pullers that are coming behind him to block the Nickel or Safety that were lined up over him. 

Kick Out Block

The Kick Out block is similar to the Trap block, except the block occurs one gap wider outside of the Tackle.

It requires a blocker–whether it be an Offensive Lineman, Fullback, or Tight End–to travel across at least one gap to an edge defender where he then establishes and maintains inside leverage on the run.

He’s responsible for canceling out that edge defender and creating a wider running lane in the C-gap. If that edge defender wrong-arms and dives underneath the Kick out, the Kick out then turns into a Log block. 

Kick Out Block

A pulling Guard on Counter is generally the most known kick out block, but another version of a kick out is the H-Back’s responsibility in Split Zone. In Split Zone, the Offensive Line blocks one direction on their zone paths while an H-Back comes across the formation to perform a kick out on the backside edge defender.

The example above depicts an H-Back coming across the formation and targeting the upfield shoulder of the Defensive End coming off the hip of the Right Tackle. After making contact, he continues to run his feet so that the Defensive End isn’t able to shed the block. His job is to secure the integrity of the C-gap and widen the running lane for the Tailback in case of a cutback.

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