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Offensive Line Play: The Proper Stance

Offensive linemen need to be balanced at all times. The stance provides stability and power against a defensive lineman. If a player is not in a proper position to move after the snap of the ball effectively, the rest of the play could be affected.

The key elements of an offensive line stance are depth of stance, correct hip alignment, and proper weight distribution. If these three areas are in the right position, the athlete will effectively move to their post-snap landmark with the maximum force generated from the lower body.

This article will detail the proper stance for an offensive lineman to maximize efficiency and protect the quarterback.

Offensive Lineman Depth

Many offensive linemen have trouble identifying how low they need to get in their stance.

Some get too high in their stance because this position feels more comfortable to them. As a result, they do not have proper leverage or generate maximum force coming off the ball.

Others have the coaching cue low man wins ingrained in their head, and as a result, they get so low that they have to raise post-snap or lose the ability to move effectively coming out of their stance.

This is one of the more difficult areas of the stance to coach because there is no one answer across the board. Every athlete’s body is built differently, and in turn, the depth of every stance will be slightly different.

An effective way to determine the proper depth of stance is to start an athletic position with your palms on your front hip flexors.

Start to push your hips back and sink your butt with hands naturally moving down your quad and eventually passing over your knees.

Once the angle of your wrist folding over your knee and the knee bend angle naturally match each other, you are at the proper depth. If a space between the wrist and knee develops, you are too low.

Offensive Lineman’s Hip Alignment

Hip alignment is crucial to gaining ground towards your landmark out of your stance, regardless of the play.

If your hips are in proper alignment, you have to change the amount of force through your drive leg and adjust the angle of your course with your catch leg to get to where you need to be, rather than changing your stance depending on the play.

Your hips will follow your knee, which also tends to follow your foot, so proper knee and foot position will dictate your hip alignment.

First, both feet should be slightly outside of shoulder width, creating a sturdy “A-Frame” base.

Starting with your inside leg closest to the ball, this foot and knee should be pointing directly toward the line of scrimmage.

With your outside leg, bring the outside foot back with your toes aligned to the halfway point of the opposite insole of the inside foot.

Next, turn the outside foot to a 45-degree angle. This will allow for a proper pass set with that foot taking you on a 45-degree angle in your set.

However, if you stay in this position, your hip will be flaring open, causing your gate to open in a pass set and not enough force being generated to move effectively when moving inside in the run game.

To get the outside hip in a proper alignment, the athlete must pull their outside knee back into a neutral position getting as perpendicular to the line of scrimmage as possible.

Weight Distribution

This stance area tends to be an issue for younger offensive linemen but still applies to all levels.

The number one thing to remember when thinking about weight distribution is an offensive line stance. A defensive line stance is drastically different as the movement required by the two positions is also extremely different.

First, weight should be evenly distributed between the heels and feet. It is important to have the entire foot or “every cleat in the ground.”

If your entire foot is not in contact with the ground pre-snap, it is tough to get it their post-snap, and if you can get it there, it is wasted movement.

This is because the larger the surface area generating force through the ground, the more power will be generated, allowing you to move the defender.

The other big point to focus on with weight distribution is the ability to pick up your hand in a three-point stance. There should be no difference in weight distribution between a two and three-point stance.

The only difference between the two is simply placing the outside hand on the ground.

An effective way to see if a player has too much of a forward lean or unequal weight distribution out of a three-point stance is to pull the down hand out from under them in their stance.

If they fall forward, they need to shift their weight back.

The Center’s Stance

The center has a slightly different stance as he is aligned directly over the ball. There is no inside or outside foot to refer to, nor do they have the ability to drop one foot slightly behind the other.

The goal for the center post-snap is to essentially turn into a guard depending on which direction they are moving. The center must slightly open both hips as a guard would with his outside leg to do this effectively.

To do this, start in the same athletic “A-Frame” position with both feet parallel to each other.

Then pull the toes up and rotate on both heels until both feet slightly point out for the hips to turn into a slightly open position. This allows for the center to effectively pass set in either direction or effectively generate upfield or lateral force in the run game.

The same rules for depth and weight distribution apply with the center simply resting his hand on the ball to snap it.

Conclusion

The stance is the base building block of offensive line play. For an athlete to effectively carry out their block, they must be set up for success from the start.

If the athlete can determine the proper depth of their stance, get their hips in a proper alignment, and their weight correctly distributed, they will effectively move off the ball and maximize the force generated to move defenders.

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Other Points to Consider

  • It is important to actually take time during practice to go through step by step on how to get into a proper stance.
  • Brush up on the stance throughout the year, as this can be a forgotten but crucial aspect of offensive line play
  • Teaching this stance helps take the head out of the block, promoting player safety.
  • Don’t arch the back in the stance; pretend there is a rod running from your butt to your neck in the stance.

Related Questions

What Is A Pass Set From An Offensive Lineman?

A pass set is away an offensive lineman block to protect the quarterback on a pass play. There are many ways to teach a pass set, but usually, they move at a 45-degree angle to cut off the defender’s path to the quarterback.

Can Lineman Be Too Big To Get Into A Stance?

The size of offensive linemen isn’t as important as many think. Sure there are benefits to functional strength and size, but the technique is the main emphasis oversize. Average size varies by level, but most NFL linemen are roughly 6’3″ and around 300 pounds.

Offensive linemen should be able to bend and move in different directions to be effective. Size doesn’t play a factor as much as speed and flexibility do.