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Zone Blocking Fundamentals

Simplified Rules for Offensive Line Play


Example of Zone Blocking

Zone Blocking Diagram

Sean McCormick

Introducing the concept of zone blocking to the offensive line begins with teaching players two basic rules of recognition; covered and uncovered.


This is when a defender is in the blocking zone of an offensive lineman.


This is when there is not a defender within an offensive lineman's blocking zone.


  • The outside lineman (tackles or tight end) makes the initial blocking call.
  • If the guard is uncovered, he will make the call to notify the tackle he will be getting blocking help.
  • If the tight end is covered, the tackle will determine if he can help with the tight end's block.
  • If the center is uncovered, he will determine if he can help with a guard's blocking assignment.
  • If no help is possible, the covered lineman must block his defender one-on-one.

Releasing Defender

After establishing the double team block, one of the lineman may release - or pass off - the defender in order to block a second level defensive player (linebacker, safety, etc.).

  1. Defensive alignment. A guard may block a nose tackle in a 1-technique until the center secures his block of the nose tackle. The guard scrapes off his block and heads down field.
  2. Defensive stunt. After lining up opposite the tackle, a defensive player slants into the guard-tackle gap. The defender is no longer the 'covered' blocker's responsibility, as the guard steps into his zone to block the rusher. The tackle advances to the second level to block someone else.

Practice Pointers

  • Run linemen drills, which simulate the next opponent's defensive stunts and blitzes.
  • Reinforce proper lineman stance, and blocking techniques (bending with the knees and not the back, striking a blow which transfers power from the hips through the shoulders, etc.)

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