Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blocking Progression

Often times we coaches (myself included) get so caught up in schemes, wrinkles, adding new things, the defense we are facing, but we fail to address the most important thing of all ... fundamentals.
I know I am guilty, as I am sure many are across the world, as the season goes on you start having more team time, and less individual time.  The quality of your indy work diminishes and I know throughout this season I kept feeling like we just weren't getting better week to week, or over the course of the season.

I had the pleasure of hearing a number of great speakers this weekend at the San Francisco (really Concord my home town) Glazier Clinic.  The best of which was former YV and Clovis East Coach, and current Clayton Valley HC Tim Murphy.

He is a widely known DW guru.  This year he switched to a shotgun DW and had even more success.  Blew everyone away, won our section for Division II and came up 1 play short of winning the right to represent NorCal in the state playoffs.  Oh by the way he didn't even get hired until the middle of spring ball.

Anyway he is an awesome coach and I got to check out a bunch of his presentations over the weekend.  His team came to my camp last summer and I knew they would be good.  They're coming again this year and it will be awesome to have them.

Anyway back to the point, he gave a great talk on his blocking progression.
What I was most happy about was the fact that what I taught this past year was really almost identical to the way he taught it.  I have seen some of his earlier videos so I was close to doing things his way.

This technique for an on block is the foundation for everything they do, and a great phrase he said was "a block is a block"
this was in reference to a coach asking about different techniques for different blocks... this progression is the basis, the difference between blocks just comes from stepping at different angles, and working your head to a certain side.

I am going to go through the entire blocking progression below:

I started my blocking progression like most do, stance, first step, second step.  However Murphy actually teaches his progression from the fit position and works backwards.

1. They start teaching everything from the "fit" position.  Good pad level, back at a 45 degree angle.  Hands locked on shoulder pads, thumbs up, elbows in.  Good bend angles in hips, knees and ankles.  One important point is that he has the scout defender hold the blockers elbows in.  This is to help reinforce the elbows in for the blocker.  Keeping elbows in is a more powerful position than you are in when the elbows are flared up/out.

2.  The next step is to start from the "load" position.  The blocker will have a flat back with their arms loaded or cocked back.  Their hands are somewhere between their mid thigh and hip. On command the player will step and deliver a blow with the knife or base of the hand and get into that fit position... the hit and back have to be at a 45 degree angle... can't go straight up.  45 degrees is the most powerful angle and we want to make contact on that 45 degree angle with great pad level.

3.  The 3rd part of the progression is to begin from the stance.  The stance should be with a flat back.  On command they will take their first step and load the hands.  Important points... he teaches keeping the off hand in a 3 pt stance to be down near the down hand.  "fist by the wrist"  This is to keep the load even on both sides.  They must keep a flat back when they freeze after their load step.  He will sometimes have a kid stand over the with their hand 2 inches above their back in their stance.  On the load step if their back touches the hand the kid knows he has risen too high.
> then comes the 2nd step and delivering the punch on the 45 degree angle
> this gets us into our fit
from there we will start the final step: Drive

4. they start in a perfect fit and on command they drive the scout defender pounding the entire foot into the ground, weight on inside of foot.
command is "fit" > player gets into perfect fit
"show me" > player twists defender to show coach his grip on shoulder pads, thumbs up elbows in
"drive" > player begins pounding feet driving down the field
"lockout" > player violently bench presses to finish the block... back goes flat again, finishing him to the ground (only get this perfect block a few times a game but practice it anyway)

They will work this step by step progression and from there go to 50% speed putting all the steps together
from 50% they go to 90%
Finally 100% all out on the drive block

They also practice drills they call "Stick Like Glue Series"

Sidewinder drill - drive block (can adjust % of effort) scout guy begins snaking side to side as he is driven back.  Blocker has to work his feet to stay on the block and not get out of control.

Spin Drill - drive block, scout defender chooses a direction to spin, blocker has to redirect and stay on the block

Pop up Drill - drive block, defender throws blocker down onto ground, pop up and continue to block, repeat

He teaches a solid progression and maximizes what his players can do.  His OL was SMALL, but they ran the heck out of the ball.

They work this progression relentlessly.  At our Summer camp, when the other teams were repping team stuff in their independent practice time, his guys were working progression over and over.

He said he works the progression every week, all year long, even 5 weeks deep into the playoffs.

This progression is not solely for the OL.  He makes every player on the team do this, including his QBs.  Every player has to learn how to block and to be a great blocker in his offense.


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