In American football, blocking or interference (or running interference) involves legal movements in which one player uses his body to obstructs another player's path. The purpose of blocking is to prevent defensive players from tackling the ball carrier, or to protect a quarterback who is attempting to pass, hand off or run the ball. Offensive linemen and fullbacks tend to do the most blocking, although wide receivers are often asked to help block on running plays and halfbacks may be asked to help block on passing plays, while tight ends perform pass blocking and run blocking if they are not running routes to receive passes. Overall, blocking is a skill that virtually every football player may be required to do at some point, even defensive players in the event of a turnover.
Essentially, blocking is pushing, with certain restrictions; in blocking one may not grasp another player or do any sort of pulling, and the hands must not extend beyond the line of each armpit; otherwise a holding penalty will be assessed. Blocking is also not permitted beyond five yards from the line of scrimmage until the quarterback has handed off the ball to a runner or a receiver has touched the ball after it has been passed.
Outside sports, "running interference" is a metaphor that refers to a person's helping someone in the performance of a task without directly assisting in the task.Often this is done by attracting attention to oneself (so as to deflect attention from the other person) or throwing oneself into harm's way.
Zone blocking is a technique that is a simple and effective scheme for creating lanes for running plays. In a zone blocking scheme, fleet-footedness and athletic ability trump size as desirable qualities in offensive linemen. Coordination and technique matter more than muscle in implementing a successful scheme because defensive linemen are often double-teamed at the point of attack. In this blocking scheme, which takes much from the Veer blocking system, creating movement on the defensive line is more important than opening a specific hole in the defense.
One of the simplest reasons many teams have incorporated zone blocking in their offenses is that zone blocking rules do not change based on the defensive front. In a "man block" system, blockers are paired with defenders according to certain rules to create a running lane. If the defensive front changes, or if the defense stunts or blitzes, the blocking rules may change. This requires learning multiple rules for the same play. Zone blocking uses very consistent rules that do not change according to the defensive front.
Some teams base their entire offense on it, including the NFL's Washington Football Team, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, and Los Angeles Rams. Adopting a variation of this scheme's core principles, the West Virginia Mountaineers rely on it in the run-based spread offense, devised by former head coach Rich Rodriguez and former offensive line coach Rick Trickett, that they have used even after their departure. The University of Iowa under head coach Kirk Ferentz, a former NFL offensive line coach, utilizes zone blocking and the inside/outside stretch play as the basis for their offense. The University of Michigan also started using zone blocking under head coach Lloyd Carr in the 2006 season, and continued to do so under his successor, Rodriguez.
The Carolina Panthers made the switch to zone blocking under offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson for the 2007 season. They had previously employed a man-blocking scheme for a downhill running attack under coordinator Dan Henning, but during the 2006 season, the team's undersized linemen were consistently overpowered by opposing defensive linemen. The power running game became stagnant, and especially ineffective in goal-line/short yardage situations, thus resulting in Henning's firing and the switch to zone blocking. Thanks in part to the new blocking scheme they implemented, the Panthers saw their 2008 campaign characterized by the running of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to great effect, gaining them play off status. That season also saw the emergence of rookie Steve Slaton with the Houston Texans under their new Alex Gibbs-designed zone blocking scheme.
Using a running back out of the backfield, zone plays are usually categorized into three types: Inside Zone (IZ), Outside Zone (OZ) and Stretch. These types describe the initial landmark of the ball carrier. A common approach is: Inside the tackles for IZ, just outside the tackle for OZ and just inside the last offensive player for the stretch.
For each type of zone there are many different blocking schemes available:
Today every NFL team uses some form of zone blocking but not all of them rely on it entirely.
The linemen of some teams that use zone blocking schemes have been criticized for their alleged penchant for cut blocking the knees of defenders, sometimes away from the play. Cut blocks are legal unless a defensive player is engaged by another offensive player. Although some consider the technique unsportsmanlike because of the risk of serious injury, when taught and applied correctly it is a very effective tactic. In fact, some defensive players employ the technique to eliminate blockers so other defenders can make the tackle.
Zone blocking schemes frequently employ deception. For example, plays may be called in which blitzing defensive linemen and linebackers are permitted to rush into areas of the offensive backfield that are unimportant in the play called by the offense. Meanwhile, the offensive linemen who vacated the unimportant area migrate to the point of attack, blocking material defensive players.
Players other than offensive linemen may enhance the success of a zone blocking scheme. For example, in a run-based spread attack like West Virginia's the primary responsibility of receivers is less to catch passes than to execute downfield blocks, springing the ball carrier and extending the run.
Interference remains strictly illegal in both rugby codes. The prohibition of interference in the rugby game stems from the game's strict enforcement of its offside rule, which prohibited any player on the team with possession of the ball to loiter between the ball and the goal. At first, American players would find creative ways of aiding the runner by pretending to accidentally knock into defenders trying to tackle the runner. Interference developed out of a practice called "guarding"; run by Princeton, wherein a player ran at each side of the runner, but not in advance.
When Walter Camp witnessed this tactic being employed during a game he refereed between Harvard and Princeton in 1879, he was at first appalled, but the next year he had adopted the blocking tactics for his own team at Yale. During the 1880s and 1890s, teams developed increasingly complex blocking tactics including the interlocking interference technique known as the Flying wedge or "V-trick formation", which was first employed by Richard Hodge at Princeton in 1884 in a game against Penn, however, Princeton put the tactic aside for the next 4 years, only to revive it again in 1888 to combat the three-time All-American Yale guard Pudge Heffelfinger. Heffelfinger soon figured out how to break up the formation by leaping high in the air with his legs tucked under him, striking the V like a human cannonball.
In 1892, during a game against Yale, Harvard fan and student Lorin F. Deland first introduced the flying wedge as a kickoff play. Two five man squads would line up about 25 yards behind the kicker, only to converge in a perfect flying wedge running downfield, where Harvard was able to trap the ball and hand it off to the speedy All-American Charley Brewer inside the wedge. Despite their effectiveness, the flying wedge, "V-trick formation" and other tactics which involved interlocking interference, were outlawed in 1905 through the efforts of the rule committee led by Parke H. Davis, because of its contribution to serious injury.Non-interlocking interference remains a basic element of modern American football, with many complex schemes being developed and implemented over the years, including zone blocking and pass blocking.
The current body block technique has been attributed to one of football history's greatest head coaches: Pop Warner. Prior to his early 1900s coaching at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, blocking was done using one's shoulders. It was Warner who implemented the technique of blocking being done by hands rather than shoulders.
In gridiron football, a lineman is a player who specializes in play at the line of scrimmage. The linemen of the team currently in possession of the ball are the offensive line, while linemen on the opposing team are the defensive line. A number of NFL rules specifically address restrictions and requirements for the offensive line, whose job is to help protect the quarterback from getting sacked for a loss, or worse, fumbling. The defensive line is covered by the same rules that apply to all defensive players. Linemen are usually the largest players on the field in both height and weight, since their positions usually require less running and more strength than skill positions.
A linebacker is a playing position in gridiron football. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage and behind the defensive linemen. They represent the "middle ground" of defenders, playing closer to the line of scrimmage than do the defensive backs, but farther back than do the defensive linemen.
The tight end (TE) is a position in American football, arena football, and Canadian football, on the offense. The tight end is often a hybrid position with the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a wide receiver. Like offensive linemen, they are usually lined up on the offensive line and are large enough to be effective blockers. On the other hand, unlike offensive linemen, they are eligible receivers adept enough to warrant a defense's attention when running pass patterns.
A screen pass is a play in gridiron football consisting of a short pass to a receiver who is protected by a screen of blockers. During a screen pass, a number of things happen concurrently in order to fool the defense into thinking a long pass is being thrown, when in fact the pass is merely a short one, just beyond the defensive linemen. Screens are usually deployed against aggressive defenses that rush the passer. Because screens invite the defense to rush the quarterback, they are designed to leave fewer defensemen behind the rushers to stop the play.
In American and Canadian football, a single-wing formation was a precursor to the modern spread or shotgun formation. The term usually connotes formations in which the snap is tossed rather than handed—formations with one wingback and a handed snap are commonly called "wing T" or "winged T".
In gridiron football, blitzing is a tactic used by the defense to disrupt pass attempts by the offense. During a blitz, a higher than usual number of defensive players will rush the opposing quarterback, in an attempt either to tackle him or force him to hurry his pass attempt.
Strategy forms a major part of American football. Both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent in order to win the game.
Center (C) is a position in gridiron football. The center is the innermost lineman of the offensive line on a football team's offense. The center is also the player who passes the ball between his legs to the quarterback at the start of each play.
The zone run in American football is a running play based on zone blocking.
In American football, the specific role that a player takes on the field is referred to as their "position." Under the modern rules of American football, both teams are allowed 11 players on the field at one time and have "unlimited free substitutions," meaning that they may change any number of players during any "dead ball" situation. This has resulted in the development of three task-specific "platoons" of players within any single team: the offense, the defense, and the so-called 'special teams'. Within these three separate "platoons", various positions exist depending on the jobs that the players are doing.
The triple option is an American football play used to offer several ways to move the football forward on the field of play. The triple option is based on the option run, but uses three players who might run with the ball instead of the two used in a standard option run.
In American football, a play is a close-to-the-ground plan of action or strategy used to move the ball down the field. A play begins at either the snap from the center or at kickoff. Most commonly, plays occur at the snap during a down. These plays range from basic to very intricate. Football players keep a record of these plays in a playbook.
In American football, the 3–4 defense is a common defensive alignment consisting of three down linemen and four linebackers. It is a called a "base defense" because it is the default defensive alignment used on "base downs". However, defenses will readily switch to other defensive alignments as circumstances change. Alternatively, some defenses use a 4–3 defense.
In American football, a 4–3 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of four down linemen and three linebackers. It is called a "base defense" because it is the default defensive alignment used on "base downs". However, defenses will readily switch to other defensive alignments as circumstances change. Alternatively, some defenses use a 3–4 defense.
A pro-style offense in American football is any offensive scheme that resembles those predominantly used at the professional level of play in the National Football League (NFL), in contrast to those typically used at the collegiate or high school level. Pro-style offenses are fairly common at top-quality colleges but much less used at the high school level. The term should not be confused with a pro set, which is a specific formation that is used by some offenses at the professional level.
The A-11 offense is an offensive scheme that has been used in some levels of amateur American football. In this offense, a loophole in the rules governing kicking formations is used to disguise which offensive players would be eligible to receive a pass for any given play. It was designed by Kurt Bryan and Steve Humphries of Piedmont High School in California.
The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.
In American football the air raid offense refers to an offensive scheme popularized by such coaches as Mike Leach, Hal Mumme, Sonny Dykes, and Tony Franklin during their tenures at Iowa Wesleyan University, Valdosta State, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Louisiana Tech, and Washington State.
In gridiron football, cut blocking is an offensive line technique that consists of an offensive player knocking a defensive player down by hitting his knees. The technique, which was initially instilled by Bobb McKittrick, the offensive line coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 1979 to 1999, is often criticized as being "dirty." Additionally, it is illegal for an offensive player to "cut" a defensive player already engaged with another offensive player. This is considered a "chop block", not a cut block. In the NCAA, cut blocking is allowed as long as the block is away from the original position of the ball. The Fall Experimental Football League and the NFL banned use of the chop block and the cut block.
Third, they [mentors] may serve as a buffer between the organization and the individual by running interference for the protégé and providing special access to information, contacts, and resources.