Football Blocking

Football Blocking

What is Blocking in Football?

Blocking is a technique in which an offensive player uses their body to obstruct the path of a defender. Blocking in football is also a part of special teams plays. A blocker will do their best to hinder a defender’s path to the passer or ball carrier, depending on the play. Blockers do this by creating contact that will prevent the defensive player from moving towards the player with the ball, preventing a tackle.

How to Block

Blocking requires proper form. To execute a block, a blocker first sets their stance, with feet shoulder width apart, hands ready at their waist, shoulders back, and head up. Then, as soon as the snap is made, they take an explosive first step toward the defender known as the get off. Next, the blocker will strike, taking a second step and initiating the block with their outstretched arms, contacting the defender in their chest. Finally they finish the block by lowering their waist, keeping a wide base, and controlling the defender with their arms.

The NFL rulebook states that blockers may use their entire body unless restricted by a rule. As such, legal blocking may include the use of the head and shoulders as well as hands and the outside of the forearms.

Blocking has a few restrictions. Contact applied to the defender must be under the neck and can be on the outside of the defensive player’s body, though the blocker’s hands must move to the inside of the defensive player’s body soon after they begin to block. This is to prevent a material restriction, which generally includes the grabbing of a defensive player and manipulating them in some way, such as tackling, twisting, or bringing them to the ground.

Illegal Blocking Techniques

Blocking techniques that result in a penalty include contact at or above the neck area with the hands, a block to the back, and material restrictions.

There are exceptions to some of these rules, such as blocking in the back, which is normally illegal. Instances when blocking in the back is legal include loose ball recovery, the defensive player turning to present their back right before the block occurs, and hands placed on the side of the defensive player.

Other illegal blocking techniques include clipping, illegal crackback blocks, chop blocks, illegal “peel back” blocks, and blocks below the waist on kicks and changes of possession. In some situations, however, certain techniques are legal, such as the “peel back” block, which is legal when the blocker hits the frontside of the defensive player.

List of Blocking Penalties

Below is a list of the types of penalties that are related to blocking in football:

Types of Blocks

A number of different blocking strategies exist that may give a blocker an advantage over his opponent, whether it be a more isolated approach or a team effort. Here are some of the most popular types of blocks:

  • Man-on-Man Block
  • Double-Team Block
  • Zone Block
  • Drop Block
  • Chop Block
  • Cut-Off Block
  • Trap Block
  • Slide Block
  • Reach Block

Positions That Block

While every offensive player performs blocks occasionally, some players block more than others. Just about the entire purpose of offensive linemen is to block for the pass or run. The left and right tackles, left and right guards, and center make up the offensive line and are big enough to block throughout the entire game.

Running backs, fullbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends are also all capable of throwing blocks to either help the ball carrier or protect the quarterback, though it is not their primary responsibility.

In special teams play, there are a number of players they may block as well. The long snapper, for example, becomes a blocker for the kicker or punter. The upback is a special position that also protects the punter by blocking. On a return, a number of players help to block for a kickoff or punt returner.


What is blocking in football?

In football, blocking is a technique in which offensive players physically impede defenders from tackling the ball carrier or quarterback. Blocking is a crucial offensive skill, as without it, many offensive plays would end without gains or progress down the field. A good blocking offense can easily open up scoring opportunities for their ball carriers.

What does a block do for the ball carrier?

Blocks mainly help ball carriers by opening up lanes for them to run through, and by stopping defenders from reaching them in order to make a tackle. Blocks performed by the offensive linemen on the defensive line can push defenders out of the way, creating gaps or paths between them for the ball carrier to exploit. Meanwhile, blocks by offensive backs and tight ends prevent members of the defensive secondary, like linebackers or safeties, from tackling the ball carrier after they break away from the defensive line.

What was the best blocking offense in NFL history?

The question of which offensive line in NFL history was best at blocking is hard to answer, and subject to much debate. However, one team which deserves recognition for their offensive skills are the 1995-1999 Denver Broncos, led by legendary coach Mike Shananhan. Shanahan’s Broncos led the league in rushing ability throughout the late 1990s as a result of their ability to protect quarterback John Elway, which helped them win two back-to-back Super Bowls (Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII). Other well-renowned offensive lines in NFL history include the 2001-2006 Kansas City Chiefs, the present-day Dallas Cowboys, the 1958-1967 Cleveland Browns, and the 1970s Miami Dolphins.