AFM RSS Feed Follow Us on Twitter       

   User Name    Password 
      Password Help

Article Categories

AFM Magazine

AFM Magazine

Learning to Read Blocks

© More from this issue

Click for Printer Friendly Version          

By John Groll, Defensive Line Coach
Bedford High School (MI)

Football has been a part of my life for the last thirty years. In those thirty years, I have played or coached every position except quarterback and defensive line.  Last year, our high school hired a new football coach and he hired me as the new defensive line coach in our 4-3 defense. I would like to share how I teach our D-linemen to read various blocks.

            I started by asking the questions, “What do I want our players to do and, then, how am I going to teach it?” I learned as both a coach and teacher, the better I teach, the better the students will perform. I have become a firm believer in coaching game situations. The drills taught should be the skills used.

          To start coaching the D-line, I began developing a progression of what was going to be taught.  Every resource I used had basically the same progression: stance, get-off, hands, read, escape, and tackle. I would like to share what we do at the read step of the progression.

            In our 4-3, we align in a shade at every position. We do not want to be head-up and deal with a full blocker. We are aligned to the outside shoulder most of the time at every position (9 tech, 3 tech, shade on weak side of center, and 5 tech). From our outside shade, I want our players to key the V of the neck. The V is the area between the neck and the shoulder and it will tell the D-linemen what to do on every play. I teach the V as the gap our D-linemen are assigned to. If the shoulder goes inside, the gap has shifted inside. If the shoulder goes outside, the gap has widened. For example, a 3 tech aligns in the strong B gap. When a guard reaches to the outside, the running back is going outside of the guard. The B gap has moved wider, so the 3 tech needs to be wider. The V is the gap we need to defend, not the two or three feet that exist when the offensive guard and tackle are set at the line of scrimmage. We move when the V moves. I never tell my players to look at the ball. With their head inside, they get-off too slowly.  We move when our closest blocking threat moves. By keying the V, our get-off is much quicker.

         When we started working on the V of the neck concept, players understood what we were reading, but they struggled with the idea that the V is the gap they are assigned to.  To make it easier to read the V, I placed a sticker (I used old name tags) or taped the base of the V on our D-linemen (because we worked against each other during individual). I will teach the players to target the sticker and stay aligned to where it moves. We start with three reads; straight, inside, and outside. When the target comes at our D-linemen, we will fire into the drive block. When the target goes inside, we are going to squeeze inside. When the target goes away, we are going to lock the outside arm and shuffle our feet to the outside to maintain our outside alignment. Once those three blocks have been mastered, we will add pass blocking and cutting. When the sticker rises up, we will pass rush.  When the sticker goes down, it’s a cut block.  I believe at the high school level, reading run is the most important thing for a defense. That is why we start with only three reads.
         Last year, we worked on reading blocks every day and we really improved reading blocks once my players understood the concept of the moving gap. By adding the visual of the sticker, I think the concept of reading blocks and maintaining gap assignments will be easier to teach and make defensive linemen more effective.


AFM Videos Streaming Memberships Now Available Digital Download - 304 Pages of Football Forms for the Winning Coach


Copyright 2024,
All Rights Reserved