If done effectively, the stiff arm can be a lethal weapon in preventing an opponent from tackling you. Here are three different ways you can use a stiff arm to keep defenders at a distance.
Straight-Arm Stiff Arm
When To Do It: When a defender is fast approaching from the side or behind.
Who It’s Great For: Taller ballcarriers with longer arms than the defender.
How To: Wait for the defender to get within arm’s length from you. As he gets close, he will reach his arms out to try to tackle you. Strike his upper facemask with the palm of your hand. Hit through the facemask, extending your arm to prevent him from being able to grab you. Do not grab his facemask. Be sure not to break stride.
NFL Inspiration: Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
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Up-and-Under Stiff Arm
When To Do It: When the defender is already within arm’s length away from you and is slowly closing in from the side.
Who It’s Great For: Smaller, stronger ballcarriers
How To: Make sure you are lower than the defender and he is around 2 feet from you. Bend your elbow down (think shooting a free throw) and strike under the defender’s facemask, pushing it up toward the sky. Don’t grab! Use the push-off to create separation from the defender. He cannot tackle what he cannot see.
NFL Inspiration: Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks) vs. Atlanta Falcons
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Throw-Down Stiff Arm
When To Do It: When a defender is lower than you (around waist level) and already in front of you coming in for the tackle.
Who It’s Great For: Any ballcarrier who does not have time to lower a shoulder on a defender in open space. A great move when a defender has overcommitted on the tackle or is too low and has not properly wrapped you up yet.
How To: When the defender comes in to tackle you, use his momentum against him by pushing his helmet or body away from you in the same direction he was going. Gather your feet and prepare to cross face past his body.
NFL Inspiration: Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) vs. Cleveland Browns
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