What is Blocking in Football?
Blocking in football generally takes place on the offensive side of the ball as well as special teams plays. A blocker will do his 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 therefore preventing a tackle.
Legal Blocking Technique
Blocking has a number of restrictions that make it difficult to do well legally. The NFL rulebook states that blockers may use essentially their entire body unless specifically 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.
Contact applied to the defender must also 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 he begins to block. This is to prevent a material restriction, which generally includes the grabbing of a defensive player and manipulating him in someway, such as tackling, twisting, or bringing him to the ground.
Illegal Blocking Techniques
Blocking practices that will 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 is the case with blocking in the back, which is normally illegal. Instances when blocking in the back is legal includes loose ball recovery, the defensive player turning to present his back right before the block occurs, and hands placed on the side of the defensive player.
Other specific illegal blocking techniques to be aware of include clipping, illegal crackback blocks, chop blocks, which are never allowed, 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.
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. Some of these include man-on-man blocking, double-team blocking, and zone blocking.
Positions That Block
Some players tend to 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 necessarily 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 another position that also protects the punter by blocking. On a return, too, a number of players help to block for a kickoff or punt returner.