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fordhamBy Mike Kuchar, Lead Research Manager, X&O Labs

New research reveals two new methods coaches are using to help “clean up” the read for the ball carrier in zone run schemes. The “drag hand” and the “heavy hands” technique are two methodologies coaches are using this season to make the read more simple for the back. According to coaches, the use of these two techniques alone have significantly improved efficiency in both the inside and outside zone run concepts.


By Mike Kuchar

Lead Research Manager

X&O Labs


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Drag Hand/Backside Hand Technique

fordhamOn the outside zone scheme, it’s important to teach backside hand and shoulder placement in order to seal off any penetration.  In order to do this, Hand teaches what he calls the drag hand technique.  “As the offensive lineman takes his stretch step to the outside V of the neck, his backside hand placement is the thing that will slow him down enough to catch the 5-technique defender if he slants inside.   “The aiming point of the drag hand technique is the backside peck of the defender.  That movement will stop the penetration of the defender inside.  The Tackle cannot come off the ball with no concern of the defender slanting inside.  He uses the drag hand to catch and hold the defender so he cannot penetrate.”

Joel Rodriquez, the offensive line coach at Fordham University stresses this point to his play side Tackle because more often than not, he will be involved with the “read” of the back.  More often than not that Tackle will more than likely be involved with the read of the back,” said Rodriquez.  “If a one on one scenario, that offensive lineman must get facemask across defender’s facemask on contact and carry a heavy backside arm.  I

Heavy Hands Philosophy

Finally, there is a certain amount of emphasis placed on training the uncovered blocker to assist the covered blocker in the combination scheme and that’s done so by using what Joel Rodriquez, the offensive line coach at Fordham University calls “heavy hands.” This is in reference to helping to take over blocks on the front side of outside zone.  



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  • The coaching points behind the “back hand” technique used by veteran offensive line coach Alex Gibbs on the wide zone concept.
  • A video tutorial by longtime NFL offensive line coach Bill Callahan on the drag hand technique.
  • The coaching points that Fordham University offensive line coach Joel Rodriquez uses to train his play side Tackle to help clear up the read for the back in the Rams outside zone concept.
  • The “heavy hands” technique used by uncovered lineman in the wide zone scheme, which helps to alleviate combination blocks at the point of attack.
  • Video tutorials on both these concepts and much more.

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According to the coaches we spoke with, the use of these two techniques can variably improve your zone run schemes.  Since the ball carrier is such a integral component of the zone run game, helping him identify the read can inevitably produce more efficiency in both the inside and outside zone run concepts.  




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