Running The Power Play In Football – Complete Guide

By vIQtory

The power play in football is one of the most influential plays in football. Teams are starting to use the power play from both spread and traditional offenses. What is the power play, and how do football teams use it?

The power play in football requires “gap” scheme blocking with a pulling guard to block out the defensive end. Once the hole opens up, a fullback or a tight end will block the play-side linebacker.

We’re going to examine the power play from different personnel groupings. If you’re unfamiliar with personnel groupings, look at our short write-up to understand how coaches use players to create different formations to run power.

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Running The Power Play From 21 Personnel

First, to understand the power play thoroughly, you must learn the “gap scheme” rules. In short, the offensive line & tight end will be blocking any player in their gap away from the play, also known as a “down block.”

A down block is a leverage block that (oddly enough) doesn’t need a whole lot of force to complete the block. Learn more about our gap schemes and how they can be implemented into your offense here.

In the diagram below, you’ll see power from 21 personnel – meaning 2 running backs and 1 tight end. For example, the defense we will use will be a standard 4-3 with an Over front to the tight end.

Power in football
Power From 21 Personnel

We will use the I-pro formation with the fullback and halfback stacked behind each other. When running the power, it’s all about angles and approaches for each block, especially for the fullback and pulling guard.

The fullback is used as the kick-out block, which requires the fullback to get on the inside hip of the defensive end/ outside linebacker and drive him out.

The guard wraps tight into the hole and hunts down the unblocked linebacker. Here is an example from 21 personnel:

power in football
Power From 21 Personnel

Every player not involved in the kick-out or pull blocks is “gap” blocking away from the play.

Typically, coaches will have their guard tackle double the 3 techniques to the play side or follow their “gap” rules and go for the backside linebacker.

We diagramed it above with the double team on the 3 technique and slid off to the middle linebacker.

Variations of the power play that we’ve seen are a kick-out block from the backside guard and the fullback blocking the outside linebacker.

This variation gives a better angle on the kick-out block and lets the fullback run straight for the linebacker. We’ve diagramed this version below.

Power play in football
Power From 21 Personnel

Below is a video version (if you learn better through video and explanation) from on blocking the power.

What version of power do you run from 21 personnel? We’d love to hear in the comment section below!

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Running The Power Play From Spread Personnel (12 & 11)

As the game has become more athlete-centric and spread out, offenses started to adopt inside and outside zone schemes.

However, coaches slowly started to adopt the old-school power play into the newer spread systems.

From spread personnel, instead of using 2 running backs and 1 tight end, we’re going to diagram in 12 personnel (1 running back and 2 tight ends) or 11 personnel (1 running back and 1 tight end). 

Power from spread offense
Power From 11 Personnel

Just like we used the fullback to kick out the defensive end, here we’re using the H-back to kick him out. The other players follow their “gap” rules and go down, blocking away from the play.

The backside guard will pull and lead up the hole to the linebacker.

Similar to the alternate example above, we switched the kick-out block to the backside guard and had the H-back lead up through the hole in the diagram below.

power in football
Power From 11 Personnel

Teams have gotten creative and run power from 12 personnel, having a tight end and an H-back into the game. Below are some cutups from Chip Kelly’s power game when he was with Oregon. 

Another power play variation from the spread is using a skill slot player to kick out a defensive end.

New England Patriots use this variation from time to time, with Julian Edelman motioning from the slot to kick out an outside linebacker or defensive end.

This gives teams the flexibility to run power from the spread, forcing the defense to fit runs with defensive backs, which is not ideal.

How To Stop The Power Play In Football

The power play, when executed correctly, is extremely tough to stop. The first thing to look at is how the team is blocking the power.

One technique is disrupting the tight end or tackle, trying to down the block on the middle linebacker by pushing him or getting hands on him.

Disrupting the lead blocker/kick-out block is also important. Closing the hole that the running back can run through will often make him bounce laterally or put his head down for a 2-3 year gain.

Aggressive play from the linebackers and squeezing down the hole from defensive ends will help clog up the power play.

The Difference Between Power Play And Power Scheme

The power play is a gap scheme play that involves players down blocking away from the play, one player to kick out the defensive end, and one player to lead block for the running back.

The Power scheme, also known as “big on big” blocking, requires linemen to double team and remove the defensive lineman off the line of scrimmage.

Keep Learning

Learn more about spread offense runs plays from the articles below.

Spread Offensive Run Plays – Complete Guide

The Basics Of The Oklahoma Trey Counter

How To Run Counter In Football – Complete Guide

The Gap Scheme & How It’s Run In Every Offense

Complete Outside Zone Guide & Tutorial

Complete Inside Zone Guide & Tutorial

What Is Power Read In Football? Install Guide

Power is a play that’s often run by both spread and power schemes. It’s a play that puts the defense at a disadvantage if appropriately blocked.

The front side of the offensive line will run what we call a gap scheme and the backside hinge, along with a puller leading up through the front side. This play has been around for 50+ years and will continue to be around as long as football is played.

About the author

Chris Haddad is the founder of vIQtory Sports. Chris has coached football for 12+ years and continues to coach at the high school level. He continues to study and provide valuable content for those looking to learn more about this wonderful game of football.