Learning how to shed a block is a key skill for any football player on the defensive side of the ball. The maneuver requires a defensive player who's engaged with an offensive player attempting to block him and keep him away from the ball to use his body and hands to avoid the block and attempt to tackle the ball carrier. If a player cannot shed a block, he is not able to make a play on the ball and is thus rendered ineffective during the play.
Watch the offense after the ball is snapped to determine which player (or players) is going to try to block you. Depending on your position, different offensive players may attempt to block you. Players on the defensive line usually directly engage with an offensive lineman, whereas linebackers may be blocked by linemen, tight ends or even running backs coming out of the backfield. Wide receivers could block cornerbacks and safeties on some plays, as well.
Run around the attempted block if there is room to do so. Avoiding the block is the quickest and easiest way to ensure the player can remain free to make a tackle.
Push back on the blocking offensive player if he reaches you and attempts to make a block. It is crucial to use your hands to maintain a distance between the blocker and yourself. Position your hands either on the front of the blocker's chest or on the sides of his shoulder pads to avoid being engaged by the blocker and pushed out of the action of the play. If the blocking player is attempting to grasp at your chest or shoulders, use your hands to knock down the blocker's arms to prevent a good grip.
Use your hands to guide the blocking player to either side, depending on where the play is developing. An alternative way to shed the block, if possible, is to push the blocking player over. However, when dealing with typically large offensive lineman, such brute force may not be possible. A more reliable method is to use the forward momentum of the offensive player to push him aside and away from the action.
Tips & Warnings
- Practice these block-shedding techniques before games, and continue refining them over the course of the season.
- Photo Credit Football official standing next to football image by Pezography from Fotolia.com
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