Offensive Line Blocking Assignments In Spread

In our spread offense, offensive linemen are expected to be able to reach, drive, pull and trap block.

We work on these types of blocks daily with the following drills.

Reach block

In a reach block, the linemen must be able to work their body across a defender who is lined up to the right or left of them and then turn and/or drive them. In this drill, all linemen are given a specific play to block.

At the beginning of the season, when the players are only allowed to wear helmets, stand-up dummies can be used to simulate the front of a 40 or 50 defense.

During this phase, it’s important to eliminate any excessive steps.

When the players are allowed to fully equip and have contact, the boxes of various defenses can be utilized during the drill.

When evaluating look for the following: stance, linemen splits, quickness, footwork and the ability to execute assignments.

Trap block

For any offense to reach its full potential, guards must be able to trap block. This drill involves the following:

Teaching the steps of the pull: If the guard pulls right, his first step is a hard step with the right foot back and to the right. If he pulls, left it’s the opposite.

The drill begins with a snap by the center. The guard pulls to the side called and blocks by placing his hands on the upfield side of the defender, driving the defender both out and back.

When evaluating, look for the following: stance, splits, footwork, speed, intensity, execution and duration.

Drive block

In any offense, the ability to drive an opponent back is paramount. This drill can be done with a single man, two-man or five-man sleds.

The linemen fire off on the snap and gain control of their opponents, taking six- to eight-inch power steps while maintaining a low body technique with the chest over the thighs and keeping the back flat. During the block, linemen keep their hands inside the torso of their opponent.

When evaluating, look for the following: splits, footwork, body angle (Was the chest over the thighs? Was the back flat?), hand placement, speed, intensity and duration.

SEE ALSO: Applying the Heads Up Blocking fundamentals

SEE ALSO: Utilize this drill to focus on the key coaching points of a counter pull


In a pull block, linemen must be able to get off the ball quickly, get in front of the ball-carrier and either kick out or drive block an opponent.

Teaching the steps of the pull: If the guard pulls right, his first step is a hard step with the right foot back and to the right. If he pulls, left it’s the opposite.

On the snap, the pulling guard pulls to the side called and reads the defense. This will tell him whether he is to kick out a defender or turn upfield and lead for the ball-carrier.

When evaluating look for the following: stance, splits, footwork, speed, intensity, execution and duration.

Chris Booth is the head football coach at Peterstown Middle School in West Virginia. He has had four books and nine videos published by Coaches Choice – available here– and will have a youth drill book published later in 2016.

Jim sent the following question:

What are some simple but effective blocking schemes I can introduce my team’s offensive line this fall? I coach fifth- and sixth-graders, so they are ready to handle more, but I’m not sure how much more.

Hi, Jim.

There are a couple of rules that I learned over the years when coaching offense. The first is to make every player’s assignment clear and concise. The goal is to eliminate the “I thought” response concerning the blocking by a player on any given play.

We also want to decrease hesitation that comes when a player is not sure what to do or who to block. We want our players to keep the advantage of knowing when the play begins and to be moving on the snap.

For your age group, start by teaching three basic run blocks: drive (straight-ahead block designed to drive the defender back off the line), angle (blocking to the inside on the first defender on the line, stopping penetration and pursuit) and hook (blocking to the outside on the first defender on or off the line).

As an example, any time we called a play that required a lineman to drive block, his rule for the player that he would block is:

  • In (any defensive lineman lined up in the gap to your inside)
  • On (any defensive lineman lined up in front of you)
  • Linebacker (any linebacker lined up in front of you or to your inside)

For the center, the drive block rule is adjusted to:

  • Off (any defensive lineman lined up in the gap opposite the side of the play
  • On (same as above)
  • Linebacker (same as above)

The instant the offensive lineman breaks the huddle and moves to the line of scrimmage, he can begin to determine which defender is his to block based on the order above.

The second rule is to have blocking assignments for the offense grouped so that the player learns one rule for a group of plays that you want to include in your offensive scheme.

In this area, would include all plays run in the guard-center and guard-tackle gaps – for example 10-11 QB sneak, 32-33 fullback plunge, 24-25 halfback dive or 34-35 fullback slant. In this way, we can group eight inside running plays all with the same blocking assignments for the offensive line at the side of the attack.

Later, we can add a 24-25 halfback dive cross where the tackle and guard cross block with the tackle first and a 34-35 fullback trap where the offside guard pulls and blocks the first defender who shows.  

Group off-tackle plays the same way: 26-27 halfback power with a double-team block by the tackle (drive rules) and tight end (angle rules). A 36-37 fullback belly uses the guard and tackle hook rule and tight end drive rule.

Finally, our wide outside runs are: 28-29 halfback sweep with tackle and tight end angle rules with a guard on lead pull, 28-29 halfback toss with a guard hooking, a tackle pulling and a tight end on an angle block. Later you might consider 8-9 hole QB options.

In review, I suggest the following:

  • Design your scheme and blocking rules to match and reflect the blocking techniques you are asking the offensive players to execute.
  • Try to group your blocking schemes to be utilized in specific areas of your formation that you desire to attack.
  • Add descriptive terms to the play call to change the overall blocking scheme you want the team to use.

Fewer plays run with precision and an attacking mentality is far better than an offense with many plays where the players are confused and play with hesitation.

Good luck this year, Jim. Keep it fun for the kids and enjoy the challenge and experience.

Coach Tom Bass

Coach Tom Bass, a 30-year NFL coach and a technical writer and advisor for USA Football, also is the author of several football coaching books, including "Play Football the NFL Way" (St. Martin's Press), the only authorized NFL coaching book, "Football Skills and Drills" (Human Kinetics) and "The New Coaches Guide to Youth Football Skills and Drills" (McGraw Hill). If you would like to order a personalized autographed copy of Coach Bass' books, copies of his printed “In-Depth Coaching Clinics” or “NFL or College Sport Maps,” visit:

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