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Coach Mike S

Shoulder Or Hands For 9 Year Old O-line

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Hey guys, new to this site. Was looking for opinions on which technique is better for 9 year old O-Lineman to learn, shoulder blocking or hand blocking. I would say any trap blocks should be shoulder blocks w/hat in the hole. It seems kids tend to stand up more when they hand block. I plan on teaching both. Just looking for anyones opinion on this. Ive Asst Coached 2 yrs and this will be my 2nd yr as a head coach and Im going to coach my line. Thanks to anyone who has input on this!

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Hi Mike,

It's been my experience that shoulder blocking in youth football is pretty much old school, but if you are set on teaching it, so be it. The key to trap blocking is speed, not the usual step/power/explosive hand blocking move. I would only use shoulder blocking with traps as long as the blocker is much faster & more comfortable using it, providing his head is in front and the D-lineman is caught off guard. Like you said, players tend to stand up while hand blocking but they also tend to drop their head and have bad foot position and balance shoulder blocking. At 9 years old, I would teach hand blocking only because you have so much more to teach, such as responsibilities. Adding another technique at that age would only serve to confuse them more and teach them bad habits. We used to equate shoulder blocking to being in a bullring; when the blocker lowers his shoulder like a bull, it only takes the matador one step to make him miss.

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Hi Mike,

It's been my experience that shoulder blocking in youth football is pretty much old school, but if you are set on teaching it, so be it. The key to trap blocking is speed, not the usual step/power/explosive hand blocking move. I would only use shoulder blocking with traps as long as the blocker is much faster & more comfortable using it, providing his head is in front and the D-lineman is caught off guard. Like you said, players tend to stand up while hand blocking but they also tend to drop their head and have bad foot position and balance shoulder blocking. At 9 years old, I would teach hand blocking only because you have so much more to teach, such as responsibilities. Adding another technique at that age would only serve to confuse them more and teach them bad habits. We used to equate shoulder blocking to being in a bullring; when the blocker lowers his shoulder like a bull, it only takes the matador one step to make him miss.

Gary, thanks so much for the info! Ive only been teaching hand blocking technique with lineman so far. I have had so many people tell me that I have to teach shoulder blocking also. I agree that its old school. I just kept thinking maybe Im wrong. Everything you said makes perfect sense. There is definately enough stuff to teach as it is and not alot of time to do it. I also love the bull and matador analogy. Im definately going to use that one on some people. Thanks again for your help!

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You are quite welcome, glad I could help. I went from shoulder blocking to hand technique after attending many football clinics. It is amazing that high school & college blocking techniques are much the same, just the schemes & responsibilities are vastly different. Six of my coaches & I will be attending a youth coaching clinic in Pittsburgh the end of May. This is my 16th year and have been the offensive coordinator for the past 14 years as well as serving as head coach, but it seems most of my time is spent line blocking because so few people truly understand it. Going to football coaching clinics goes a long way in keeping you in step with the times and there's always something new to learn. Good luck to you in your young career and may you & your kids enjoy sucess!

Gary

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