By Chad Zimmerman
"A good stance leads to good footwork; good footwork leads to proper targets; and proper targets lead to solid blocks," says Pat Ruel, offensive line coach for the USC Trojans. "Being balanced in your stance is the key. If you are balanced, you have control, and when you have control, you can maintain your blocks."
Here, Coach Ruel explains how to achieve a perfectly balanced three-point stance.
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bigger offensive linemen can take a wider stance if they can still use good footwork. Footwork is key in determining your stance width.
Stagger your feet, toe to instep. If you have a right-handed stance, place the big toe of your right foot even with the instep of your left foot. The larger you are, the bigger your stagger can be. You can go as far as toe to heel, but don't go any further because that affects your ability to have good footwork.
Raise the heel of your right foot a quarter-to a half-inch off the ground, and keep your left foot flat on the ground. Guys who have problems keeping this foot flat usually have some ankle flexibility issues, which they need to fix. Having that foot flat on the ground is critical for offensive linemen. You can't achieve balance and control playing on your tiptoes.
If you're in a right-handed stance, drop your right hand straight down from your shoulder, just inside your right knee. Don't put too much weight on it; you should be able to pick your hand up and set it back down without falling forward or backward. Most of your weight rests on the soles of your fee, so your down-hand is just a guide wire. But don't sit way back in your stance either; that will cause you to lose power.
Put your left hand or elbow-whichever is more comfortable-on your left thigh. You should feel like you have the ability to strike like a cobra and snap out of your stance very quickly. That comes from being comfortable in your stance.
Keep your head up so you can see. Too often guys get in their stance and drop their heads. Make sure your butt isn't too high and you are not putting too much weight on your down-hand; both prevent you from keeping your head up and being able to see the defense.
The more balanced your stance, the fewer tips you give the defense about the type of play you're going to run. If you're about to pull or pass set, don't sink way back on your heels. That's a move the defense is always looking for, and a well-balanced stance can prevent them from reading it.
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