What Does A Guard Do In Football?

Football Guard

A guard (G) in football is a position that plays on the offensive line. There are two guard positions on the offensive line, the left guard (LG) and the right guard (RG). The guard positions are on either side of the center and before the right and left tackle positions at the end of the offensive line. Guards are sometimes referred to as offensive guards.

Location on the Field

A guard starts on the offensive line, right on the line of scrimmage and close to the middle of the formation. Guards play close to the ball, blocking for the quarterback by covering the central gaps.

Left Guard

The left guard plays directly to the left of the center. Left guards usually stand on what is known as the “strong side” of the field, as that is also the side on which the tight end often lines up, adding an extra offensive player to that side. However, the strong side is not always the left side, and is simply a term for whatever side the tight end lines up on.

Right Guard

The right guard is positioned to the center’s right. Right guards stand on the “weak side” of the field, as the lack of a tight end on the weak side makes it more vulnerable to the defense.


The guard's task is to protect the quarterback and running back from being tackled and to block the oncoming defenders. Just like every position on the offensive line, the guard is a vital position for the offense’s productivity. Guards are the players that keep the closest defenders away from the quarterback, so they have as much time as possible before making a decision on whether to pass or run the ball. Although the guard plays an offensive position, they need to be trained defensively in order to be helpful to the rest of the team.

Guards have to be great multitaskers, too. They have to block off defenders (who are also trying to block them) and try to create holes for the ball carrier, all while keeping tabs on the field and their teammates’ positioning. This role can change on the fly depending on the circumstances of the game, which is why guards have to be calm under pressure and adjust to how their opponents play.

Pulling Guards

A unique responsibility of guards is a blocking technique called pulling. In addition to quickly blocking at the line of scrimmage, guards may be asked to “pull” by leaving their typical blocking position and moving to serve as a blocker on the opposite side or the field or downfield. Pulling is a useful offensive tool as it can confuse the defense and throw them off balance. This movement is called pulling because it is designed to pull one or more defensive players to a different part of the field.

Guard Skills

Guards on both sides are tasked with defending the quarterback on passing plays and the running back on running plays. The attributes guards must have are strength, size, footwork, and spatial awareness.

Strength: Since they have to go up against defensive linemen and linebackers, who are some of the strongest players on the field, it is important for guards to be strong. Upper body strength is needed to push away defenders looking to tackle the ball carrier, and lower body strength is needed to stay on their feet throughout the entire play.

Size: Defensive linemen and linebackers are also some of the largest players on the field. To stand a chance against these large defenders, guards must be stout themselves. Most guards in high levels of football are close to 300 lb and over 6 feet tall.

Footwork: Guards must be strong and quick on their feet to adjust to moves made by defenders. Defenders will attempt to make quick moves and misdirections to throw off blockers. Guards must have excellent footwork to counter these moves and stay in a blocking position.

Spatial Awareness: As a unit, the offensive line operates close to each other in order to fill gaps. Guards must be aware of where those gaps are and fill them as quickly as they can. They must know where the center and tackle that flank them are at all times.

Notable NFL Guards

  • Larry Allen
  • Joel Bitonio
  • Joe DeLamielleure
  • Russ Grimm
  • John Hannah
  • Steve Hutchinson
  • Jerry Kramer
  • Chris Lindstrom
  • Larry Little
  • Tom Mack
  • Zack Martin
  • Shaq Mason
  • Randall McDaniel
  • Mike Munchak
  • Quenton Nelson
  • Michael Onwenu
  • Will Shields
  • Wyatt Teller
  • Gene Upshaw


What is a left guard and a right guard in football?

The left guard and right guard in football are the offensive linemen who line up on either side of the center. As the name describes, the left guard is positioned on the center’s left, and the right guard is at the center’s right. While the center snaps the ball, the left and right guard cover the central gaps, protecting the quarterback by preventing defensive tackles from breaking through the line.

What are the G, LG, and RG positions in football?

These three abbreviations all refer to guard positions. G stands for a guard, while LG designates left guard and RG means right guard. Some teams, media outlets, and offensive formation diagrams refer to both left and right guards simply as G, or guard. However, for some formation diagrams and statistical records, the distinction between left and right guard (LG vs. RG) is made.

Is a guard an offensive or defensive position?

A guard in football is a position on the offensive line. Thus, guards play on offense. Both the left and right guards are in charge of protecting the quarterback on passing plays and the ball carrier on running plays.