Resources to help you learn offensive line play

By Keith Grabowski | Posted 6/5/2019

Coaching Fundamentals & Basics

Simple blocking rules for your youth and middle school offensive line

Coach Tom Bass identifies a simple scheme to use as a starting point for teaching young offensive linemen to block.

Use Your Hips!

Using the hips is fundamental in offensive line play, yet it is one of the skills that seems to be hardest to develop. This article illustrates a progression for teaching the use of the hips to help win leverage in a block.

In-Season Fundamentals Refresher

Many times, the pace and demands of the season take the focus away from fundamentals and continued skill development. Utilizing a bye week or intentionally pulling back a little to focus on fundamentals can be very productive in helping the offensive line succeed in the later part of the season.

A Glimpse into How Bill Bedenbaugh, OL Coach Oklahoma Sooners, Develops Technique

Coach Bedenbaugh shares his philosophy of putting in quality work and focusing on daily improvement rather than winning a national title.

Remember these three philosophies when training offensive linemen

Duke Manyweather is considered to be at the forefront of optimizing offensive line training. He’s also a personal trainer to many NFL offensive linemen. He shares ideas on how to train offensive linemen.

Four Keys to Pass Protection

Coach Steve Ciocci, shares the importance of great pass protection and his four keys to success.

Skill Development of Offensive Line

Make Sure Your Equipment is Helping You Develop Technique

Coaches of offensive linemen always look to use the tools available to them.  Evaluating the equipment that is available against the skills that are being taught can show some gaps in what is desired and what the equipment is reinforcing. 

Freshen Up Your Drills

Three elements to evaluate when looking and drills for teaching offensive line. With the internet providing plenty of content on blocking and drills, understanding what your offensive line needs especially in regard to your scheme is critical.

Add Skill Development to Year-Round OL Development

For a long time, offensive line development focused on only the weight room as the major factor for improving. With an evolution in the teaching the skills of contact and blocking, linemen can work year-round to develop their skill on the field without having to use any football equipment.

A Work on Your Own Plan for OL

Linemen develop in different ways because of several factors, including their role in scheme, their level of experience and even body type. This article shares ideas on using an individualized approach to both in-season and offseason offensive line skill development.

Bob Wylie’s Approach to Developing Players

A coach’s job is to know his players. Coach Wylie’s approach to how players develop as well as a few ideas on utilizing that understanding to create better practice plans is discussed.

Mindset & Mental Processes

Coaching the Mental Rep

Sam Parker, offensive line coach at Division II national runner-up Ferris State, learned an effective method for developing players from newly named New York Jets offensive line coach Derek Frazier. Coaches always stress the importance of getting mental reps to players when they are not in a play or drill, but few have defined exactly how that is done.

Two-Time Pro Bowler’s 10 Commandments of OL Play

For this former NFL offensive linemen, it is all about respect. The approach to the game is important, and he shares his mindset in this article.

What Texas OL Coach Herb Hand Looks for in a Lineman

Herb Hand joined the Coach and Coordinator podcast to talk about a wide variety of topics. One of those topics was what he believes are the most important attributes to succeed as an offensive lineman. Those are shared in this article.

Mental Conditioning for Offensive Line

State champion Rich Alercio explains the importance of keeping the offensive line unit sharp mentally. He shares his method for doing this year round.

Pre-Snap Routine Elevates an Offensive Lineman’s Game

Two-Time Pro Bowl offensive lineman explains the importance of a pre-snap routine for offensive linemen. Using a routine helps in performing high stress tasks built upon consistency.

Scheme Application

Fit Your Scheme to Your Personnel

Offensive line is a highly technical position. Fitting the scheme to personnel is as important as it is to fit a quarterback into a system. This article presents a thought process for defining what the strengths and weaknesses of personnel are and how to maximize talent.

Building Upon Concepts - Zone Scheme Application

Like other positions, a successful offense is built upon teaching the concepts of the play in a way which the players have a strong understanding of how the scheme works. This article illustrates a progression for learning in the zone schemes.

Building an Offensive Line: Principles of Gap Responsibility

Understanding gap responsibility is of utmost importance in both the running game and pass protection. These types of blocking schemes are successful only when linemen can clearly see the defenders who become their responsibility as the play moves and develops. This article gives specific ideas for teaching gap responsibility.

Blocking Techniques - Run Game

Effective Down Blocks

The down block is effective in many schemes. Here is an effective and safer way to teach the down block at any level. It emphasizes removing the head as a blocking surface and allows the offensive lineman to have answers for both a penetrating and reading defensive lineman.

How the Gallop Technique Works

The gallop is an offensive line run blocking technique. It is a Bill Callahan and Larry Zierlein staple (among others) that is used to close ground more quickly than traditional footwork in the running game. It requires an explosive drive out of a two- or three-point stance with dynamic weight transfer from the outside to inside leg moving laterally or at a vertical angle to gain ground and fit on a defender in tight quarters. Detailed explanation and analysis video is included in the article.

The Backside-Drag Hand in Outside Zone

The backside, or “drag,” hand on the front side of outside zone is a critical component for covered offensive linemen to accomplish their block. The technique has been heavily taught by the likes of Texas OL coach Herb Hand, former Broncos OL coach Alex Gibbs and Redskins OL coach Bill Callahan.  The article explains the technique and variations, including video analysis.

Jump Hook Technique for Reach Blocks

In the running game the jump hook technique is basically another way to reach, hook or pin a defender inside when the runner has an outside track. This article shows the details and includes video analysis.

Teaching the Square Pull for Traps

The square pull is the classic trap pulling style, done by opening the play-side foot away from the line of scrimmage. This article covers footwork and fit as well as a progression for teaching the square-pull technique.

The Slingshot Technique

On the backside of running plays, particularly outside zone, offensive linemen are tasked with executing a cut-off block to deny the pursuit angle of defensive linemen at the first level or linebackers at the second level. The article focuses on utilizing the slingshot technique to cut off a defensive lineman. Detailed explanation and video analysis is included.

How to Win Back a Stalemate Situation

Learning to properly use leverage helps win the block in situations when a stalemate occurs. The technique is explained in this article.

Pass Protection Techniques

How Offensive Tackles Keep Edge Rushers on Their Toes

Analysis article of how Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari mixes his sets to gain an advantage on edge rushers.

Carolina Panthers Kick-Slide and Read and React Drill

The drill helps players to improve footwork and teach offensive linemen the correct way to set up for a kick-slide pass protection. The initial kick-slide is then followed by a change of footwork for a lateral slide in order to handle any potential stunts. Drill setup and key coaching points for the drill are within the article.

Carolina Panthers Hand Accuracy Drill for Offensive Linemen

The purpose of this drill is to focus on the offensive line’s accuracy of the hand strike during pass protection. Drill setup and key coaching points are explained.

The Art of the Strike: Three Techniques Offensive Linemen can Use to Fend Off Pass Rushers

The different strike variations covered in this article: independent hands (inside/outside/alternate strikes), two-handed strike and baiting. Video included.

How NFL Offensive Linemen Use the Snatch-and-Trap Technique to Stop Pass Rushers

The snatch-and-trap technique is used by offensive linemen in pass protection as a counter to pass rushers with uneven weight distribution. Defenders who have too much weight in front of their body don’t have a proper base of support to stabilize their frame, which causes them to be susceptible to the snatch-and-trap.

Multisport Approach to OL Athlete Development

These articles discuss how offensive line participation in multiple sports can build their athletic skills and help them play in the trenches.

A Background in Wrestling Proves Beneficial for Linemen

Shotput Skills Translate Well to Football

OL Analysis

OL Profiles and Stories

These articles highlight the lessons that linemen have learned from the game.

Tony Mandarich - Finding Redemption Through Football’s Life Lessons

Former Pro Bowl offensive lineman Jeff Saturday becomes high school football head coach

Alex Mack models the perseverance that all young athletes should strive for

Evaluation of Offensive Line Performance

Retired College Coach Tony DeMeo's Four Aces grading system

Having a grading and feedback system for your players is important for both their learning and motivation. Retired college coach Tony DeMeo recently shared his “Four Aces” system of player grading. This is a system he utilized with all positions over the course of his career, and it offers a thorough evaluation system for the offensive line.

A simple, objective solution for how to grade and evaluate offensive linemen

Today’s coaching climate demands complete transparency between players and coaches, including answers that are more black and white than gray. While the media has for decades talked about “quarterback controversies,” any position can turn into a controversy without an objective system for naming starters and slotting backups correctly. This article outlines a simple system for grading practice and games to ensure that the best five players for the job are on the field.

You Need Objectivity in Measurables

Former CFL Lineman Angus Reid was impacted by his coach Dan Dorazio. The excerpt explains how Dorazio evaluated the performance of the offensive line. It provides a great example of motivation created by effective evaluation.

Offensive Line Coaches and Former Linemen on The Coach & Coordinator Podcast

Bobby Johnson-American International University

On the podcast, Johnson talks about the importance of culture, evaluating and celebrating the offensive line and using the scout team, among other topics.

Herb Hand - Texas Longhorns

In this episode, Coach Hand talks about how he builds a culture with his offensive line, what he looks for in a recruit, how to create work- balance and much more.

Oklahoma Sooners Bill Bedenbaugh

Bedenbaugh and host Keith Grabowski talk about teaching blocking technique, developing younger players and Bedenbaugh’s experience with the USA Football Contact System[GP2] .

John Strollo - Physics of Offensive Line Play

John Strollo is not your typical line coach. You will hear about vectors, circular force, levers, fulcrums and many terms that sound scientific, but as explained by Coach Strollo, they just make sense.

Jim McNally - Retired NFL Coach

To this day McNally is active in coaching in his yearly retreat as well as the ever-popular C.O.O.L clinic. Though he has spent years developing his craft as a coach, he is constantly looking for innovations in offensive line play. Currently he consults for the Cincinnati Bengals. His knowledge of offensive line play is second to none.

Jason Eck - South Dakota State

Jason Eck discusses the importance of making decisions as a family and how his commitment to his family inspires his players.

Joe Ashfield - Rice Owls

Ashfield and host Keith Grabowski talk about his playing experience, coaching overseas and developing as an offensive line coach.

Matt Jones - Linemen Lunch

Coach Jones and host Keith Grabowski talk about his philosophy coaching the offensive line, safe blocking techniques and his social media presence with #LinemanLunch.

Jonathan Himebauch - Tampa XFL

Coach Himebauch discusses his extensive coaching career, player relations and building his unit culture.

Tony Testa - West Virginia Wesleyan Head Coach

In the podcast Testa discusses the OODA Loop concept, walk-through periods, film room, communication and team culture. 

Ben Hammer - Rock Island (Ill.) HS Head Coach

Hammer discusses RPO, game planning and communication.

Brian White - Hampton University

White discusses offensive schemes and one-word play calls and more.

Jason Lewis - Heidelberg University

Division III leader in pass protection, Lewis talks about how to protect the quarterback and offensive changes.

Geoff Dart - University of Mount Union

Multiple national champion offensive coordinator and OL coach shares his philosophies and strategies.

Doug Patterson - St. Cloud State University

Patterson discusses how to help players take ownership of the learning process, making the most of positional meetings and why coaches — not players — should be on the hook when a player makes a mistake on game day.

Sam Parker - Ferris State

Host Keith Grabowski and Coach Parker discuss the Bulldogs’ offensive success, importance of involving all the players and how Coach Parker’s professional skill set helps him develop his players. Included in this is his strategy for gaining the mental rep.

Nate Leonard - Former Duke Assistant

Coach Leonard gives insight on his culture for his unit at Duke. He shares ideas on technique for blocking the backside of the power scheme.

Jack Mewhort - Retired NFL Lineman

Jack Mewhort discusses methods that were most effective from his perspective as a player as well as offensive line play and technique.

Angus Reid - Retired CFL Lineman

In this podcast Reid highlights what the game of football does for young people and the everlasting impact he received from his coach in the CFL which, Keith believes should be a coach’s ultimate goal.

John Rose - Retired HS Coach

Coach Rose, whose expertise lies in offensive line play, breaks down his approach to coaching the offensive line, including building from your established scheme, creating drills that benefit your team’s specific approach on game day and why true player confidence comes from preparation, not pregame speeches.

Dan MacKay – Burlington (Mass.) HS

In this episode of the USA Football Coach and Coordinator podcast, Keith Grabowski is joined by Coach Dan MacKay, head coach at Burlington (Mass.) High School. Grabowski and Coach Mackay discussed how Burlington increased their rushing offense this past year and improved as a football team.

Run Blocking Skills and Drills Videos

Northwestern Wildcats zone-block unison drill

Teach offensive linemen to work in unison in order to reach second-level defenders.

Northwestern Wildcats 3-on-3 zone blocking drill

Teach three adjacent offensive linemen to block in tandem against three defensive players.

Northwestern Wildcats 2-on-2 zone block combo drill

Teach two offensive linemen to work in tandem to block two defenders.

Carolina Panthers double-team drill

Teach offensive linemen how to properly execute a double-team block against a defensive lineman using the "getting skinny" technique.

Pass Protection Skills and Drills Videos

Miami Dolphins pass blocking to second-level stunt

Teach offensive linemen how to defend a second-level stunt.

Carolina Panthers kick-slide and react drill

Teach offensive linemen the footwork needed to turn the kick-slide pass protection into a lateral slide to handle defensive stunts.

Carolina Panthers hand accuracy drill

Teach offensive linemen how to properly execute a hand strike in pass protection.

Carolina Panthers two-man stunt drill

Teach adjacent offensive guards and tackles how to block a two-man stunt.

Green Bay Packers continuous set drill

Teach offensive linemen the proper footwork that comes with pass protection.

Green Bay Packers punch, punch, run by drill

Teach offensive linemen proper hand placement and footwork that comes with pass protection responsibilities.

Northwestern Wildcats vertical set board drill

Teach offensive lineman to make proper vertical drops.

Northwestern Wildcats helmetless continuous set drill

Teach offensive lineman to come to balance and pass block without a helmet to remove the head from the block.

Miami Dolphins continuous set pass blocking

Work on the pass blocking technique of your offensive linemen by stressing hand placement and footwork, specifically their set and punch with this drill from the Miami Dolphins.

Miami Dolphins set and punch drill

Miami Dolphins offensive linemen practice a set and punch pass blocking drill that coaches at any level of the sport can teach their players.


Arm yourself or your entire coaching staff with the most effective and sophisticated systematic approach for blocking and defeating blocks, with material for both line and skill position coaches.