How to Play Right Guard

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Playing on the offensive line in football is both mentally and physically challenging. On every play you will collide with opponents, using your head as a primary point of contact. Before each play begins, you have only a few seconds to identify the defense and determine what your assignment is for the play that has been called. Many people are surprised to learn that offensive linemen are typically the smartest players on the field.

Things You'll Need

  • Football equipment
  • Cleats
  • Lineman gloves
  • Stand to the right of the center. The alignment of the right side of the line is your responsibility. Place your toes in line with the back of the center's feet. This will ensure that you are in a legal alignment, though your coach may move you up or back depending on your offensive scheme. Your scheme will also dictate how far away from the center you should be.

  • Protect the gap between yourself and the center. You cannot allow a defensive tackle or linebacker to penetrate the gap. Offensive schemes can be complicated and diverse, but no scheme allows defenders to attack this gap unblocked. Help yourself by using a right-handed stance regardless of which stance is more comfortable to you. In a right-handed stance, your right foot is back slightly and your right hand is on the ground. This stance protects your inside most efficiently.

  • Stagger your feet only slightly or not at all. A large stagger in your stance makes your first step slow and prevents you from stepping with your inside foot first, which may be required on some plays. With a small stagger, you can step with power quickly in either direction. Not only will this make your own movements more efficient, but it will allow you to shift your weight from one foot to the other without your opponent noticing and giving away your path of attack.

  • Attack defenders with a low pad level. If your helmet and shoulder pads are beneath your opponent's pads, you will have leverage, making it easier to drive him backward. On contact, your facemask and hands should be the only thing that come in contact with the defenders. Do not block with your shoulder because it is too easy for defenders to slide off of these blocks. As you hit your target, roll your hips forward and up, creating an arch in your back and standing up your opponent.

Tips & Warnings

  • Much of what you do as a right guard will be determined by your offensive scheme and your coaches. The best thing you can do is know your assignment and the assignment of the left guard on every play to make yourself more versatile.
  • Injuries are common to right guards. Other players will fall around your legs on both sides, making knee injuries more likely.

References

  • "101 Offensive Line Drills for the Zone Offense"; Stan Zwieiel and Steve Dinkel; 2008
  • "Coaching the Offensive Line: By the Experts"; Earl Browning; 2010
  • Photo Credit Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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