Building an Offensive Line: 5 ways to help linemen work on their own into the offseason

By Keith Grabowski | Posted 11/14/2016

Helping our offensive linemen become bigger and stronger is a priority every offseason. Their ability to improve movement on the field is directly related to moving weights.

However, bigger and stronger can’t be limited to just the weight room. They must find a way to continue to build their footwork, leverage and hand work, all of which are necessary for success.

During the season, we dedicated each Thursday special teams period for a “work on your own” session in which players worked together in pairs or small groups to improve technique, work on problem areas or against a specific defender technique that they expect to see in the next game. As the season progressed, my role as a coach was to move around and work and provide feedback as they made adjustments and accomplished their objectives.

With this teaching model in place, player can continue this work daily until we come together again as a group. The desired effect is that by August they will not only be bigger, faster and stronger, but they also will be more technically and fundamentally sound.

Since players have been trained to see and help make adjustments through our culture of learning they now begin to serve as coaches for each other, which has shown to be an effective way to improve their own understanding of the game.

Here are five areas that offensive lineman can focus on during the offseason:

  • Footwork. Initial footwork in most of our progressions does not involve any contact. Give your players a list of plays and the footwork they are working.
  • Hand work. Hand placement is critical for an offensive lineman. This can be done on a padded column, heavy bag or on teammates at a controlled pace. We work our refit drill quite a bit, which acclimates our linemen to keeping their hands inside and continually refitting their hands to win the block.
  • Hip work. We believe in working hip mobility drills year round. We do these in a rack with a bar as well as on hurdles. In addition, we do a fit and lift drill in which our players start in a fit position and, on the whistle, activate their hips to lift their partner off the ground. This is a great functional strength drill.

In just 10 to 15 minutes a day, a committed group of linemen can make huge improvements on their own. When you have a group of bigger, faster, stronger linemen who also have better understanding and technique, you will be way ahead of your opponents next August.

SEE ALSO: Read more of Keith Grabowski’s Building an Offensive Line blog series

Keith Grabowski has been a football coach for 26 years, currently serving as an offensive assistant and technology coordinator at Oberlin College in Ohio. He previously was a head coach at the high school level for eight years and the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Baldwin Wallace University. Grabowski serves as an advisor for several sports technology companies. He is a columnist for American Football Monthly and writes his own blog at He’s the author of “101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays” and five other books available on and operates Coaches Edge Technologies. Follow him on Twitter @CoachKGrabowski.