The most essential thing we as coaches can do to help our players on the field is to give them the tools/techniques they need to be successful. Two of the most fundamental tools a defensive player needs are the ability to get off the ball and destroy blocks. Coach Patterson tells his guys all the time that they understand that a player may get blocked but it is unacceptable to stay blocked. Block destruction is a fundamental key to winning on defense. Read the report....
By Greg Patterson
Inside Linebackers Coach
Hueytown High School (AL)
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The most essential thing we as coaches can do to help our players on the field is to give them the tools/techniques they need to be successful. Two of the most fundamental tools a defensive player needs are the ability to get off the ball and destroy blocks. We tell our guys all the time that we understand that a player may get blocked but it is unacceptable to stay blocked. Block destruction is a fundamental key to winning on defense.
Our catch phrase for block destruction is “Shock/Lock/Shed”.
As with most every aspect of this game, leverage is a fundamental key to success. We begin our teaching progression by teaching proper leverage for the position. Although we teach all of our players to keep low pad level (low hips) and head up (see what you are striking), there are slight variations from what a DL does vs what a corner does to defeat a block. Usually, the variations are strike point and the type of block they are trying to defeat. It is easy to lose focus on our player’s stance (feet) during these drills so we relate as many things as possible to how we are tackling.
We teach a good base with feet shoulder width apart, attack with near leg and near shoulder, head up, and eyes on target. We feel that this carry over in teaching principles from tackling to block destruction and vice versa helps our players perfect their technique.
Teaching Progression/Coaching Points
We simply use a wood board (1x6x14) to teach eye discipline and hand placement. When we begin the teaching progression, we like to use these boards instead of a hand shield to begin the teaching progression because it forces our players to keep their elbows tight and their thumbs up. The boards are easy to grab which helps us to emphasize our need to grab cloth to properly shed the blocker.
To study film of this drill, click on the video below:
6 Point Explosion Drill
We begin by using our 5-man blocking sled with a player in front of each of the 5 pads approximately 2 feet away from the pad. Players have their toes, knees, and fingers on the ground with their buttocks as close to their heels as possible. There should be a slight arc in the back. The players are loaded and ready to spring forward. On the whistle, each player explodes forward driving off their toes, striking the pad with the heel of their hand. Their thumbs should be up, their tight elbows, and they must fully extend their arms and drive hips forward on contact.
To study film of this drill, click on the video below:
We repeat the process listed above with the exception that each position does the drill from their normal position specific stance. (i.e. – DL – 3-point stance)
Once our players have mastered the board drill and the 6-point explosion drill, we move on to our most used drill for block destruction using a 1-man sled.
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- Film of the Board drills that Coach Patterson uses daily.
- Film of the 6-point explosion drill that Coach Patterson uses daily to teach separation from blockers.
- Film of the Shock/Lock/Shed drill that Coach Patterson uses and the variations he’ll implement based on position and scheme (three-down vs. four-down fronts).
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We say it every day, “You may get blocked, but it is unacceptable to stay blocked.” This is our mantra and our motivation to stay diligent in teaching block destruction techniques. We feel that these three drills and the techniques explained above are the three primary drills needed to build a strong foundation for our players to be successful at defeating blocks. In today’s game with contact is being limited, the versatility of the 1-man sled drill allows for so many adjustments to teach our players good technique while still limiting the amount of full contact. Placing the jersey on the sled has been a huge benefit in being able to actually grab cloth and violently shed a block. This has helped to more accurately simulate live action versus a sled. The most essential thing we as coaches can do is to prepare the players with great technique. On defense, we feel great technique in block destruction prepares our players for success on game night.
Meet Coach Greg Patterson: Coach Patterson began coaching in 1998 as an OL/DL coach at Sumiton Christian School (1A). He served as Defensive Coordinator two seasons from 2007-08 and Head Coach four seasons from 2009-12. In 2013, he accepted a position as the OL coach at Minor HS (6A) in Birmingham, Al. From 2014-16, he served as the DL coach at Walker HS (6A) in Jasper, Al. This past season he served as the Inside Linebacker Coach at Hueytown HS (6A).