How to Defend Against the Bull Rush in Football

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The bull rush is a football maneuver that is most often completed by defensive linemen. It attempts to use surprise and brute force to overwhelm an offensive lineman as part of the defensive player's pass rush. The bull rush can be a very effective tool but, for those who know how to do so properly, it is relatively easily defended against. Here's how to defend against the bull rush.

Things You'll Need

  • Strength
  • Quickness
  • Composure

How to Defend Against the Bull Rush

  • Recognize the bull rush for what it is. This can be difficult. The major way to tell is that the defensive lineman will not try to use any tricks or lateral movement. Instead, they will simply try to run right through you.

  • React quickly. The key to defending against the bull rush is quick reaction time. If you hesitate, it'll be too late. You'll be on your back and so will your quarterback. So, react quickly to maximize your chances.

  • Get low. A low center of gravity is the key to defending against the bull rush. Bend your knees and lean forward into the defensive lineman, allowing their weight to help support you. This will let you get your feet into position underneath you.

  • Don't back-peddle. In most pass protection set you'll back-peddle, trading space for time to make sure that your quarterback gets the ball off. If the defensive lineman tries to bull rush you, don't back-peddle at all. If you give up a little ground you're apt to give up a lot when you're being bull rushed.

  • Set your feet and use your weight. Dig your cleats into the ground and set your weight against the defensive lineman. This will give you time and should counteract the forward momentum your opponent has towards the football.

Tips & Warnings

  • The best way to defuse the bull rush is by the use of the chop block. So, if you're facing a defensive lineman who tries to bull rush you time and time again, start chop blocking them on each pass play. Doing so will make them hesitate to use the same old trick each time.
  • If the defensive lineman gets the best of you on a bull rush, simply get your hands in under their shoulder pads, hold them into yourself, and fall backwards. Doing so will cause them to fall as well and keep them from getting to the football. Remember, though, you have to be sneaky about this because it's a textbook case of holding.
  • Don't ever put your head down when defending against the bull rush. Doing so is extraordinarily dangerous and may result in permanent spinal injuries.

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