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Youth Football – Improving the Stalk Block For Youth Receivers
More Rod Block Details
One of the hardest blocks for receivers to master is the rod block, but with a few simple practice points and drills, you can get your players to perform it fairly consistently. Stem block is a block on a defensive back by a receiver or lunge with the intent of keeping the defensive back out of the way of the ball carrier. Some coaches simply like the blocker to shield the defender from the ball carrier, others like coach Ron Brown like his kids to drive the defender past contact.
In youth football, blocking in space is what separates good teams from great teams. Rod block is often the difference between an 8-yard gain and a 25-yard gain. It’s 70% attitude and commitment and 30% technique.
How it’s made
The first step is to get the right angle for the rod block to secure and gain leverage. If the defender is outside the receiver’s shoulder, the receiver attacks the defender inside the shoulder. If the defender is inside the receivers shoulder, he attacks the defenders outside the shoulder. If the play is on the other side of the court, the receiver should take a small angle and attack the defenders inside the shoulder.
Second, the receiver must keep a 3 yard cushion with the defender as they go their “road”. The receiver’s first steps should be at full speed to get the defender to think the pass first and push the defender back. The longer you can push that defender back, the more distance you put between him and the ball carrier.
The limit of the cushion
Once the cushion between the receiver and the defender becomes shorter than 3 yards, the receiver must slow down, pull themselves together and position themselves to block the defender. He should lower his buttocks, keep his knees bent, and be ready to move to either side with his feet moving. Some people call this buzzing the feet, what it does is make sure the receiver has their feet moving to ensure they are able to engage the defender.
Bring the defender towards the receiver and commit in one direction. At this point, the receiver can use any blocking technique in which your infraction is committed in space. Some prefer the receiver to make contact with hands and release, reposition contact and release, others are just looking for a “pick” type block, they just want the receiver to get in the way. We like our receivers to maintain contact once they engage the defender. We’re not looking for him to drive the defender down, but expect him to stay engaged with both hands and a bit of the shoulders, making sure not to get overwhelmed.
Obviously, the feet are the key to this block. We do a lot of mirror type drills with the defenders against the receivers, often with the receivers putting their hands behind their backs. The goal is to never get outflanked by using quick feet to stay in front of the defender. We also do a lot of defensive back reading and reaction drills. We place receivers one on one with defensive backs, the receiver is signaled to block down, block, smoke, go, skew or arrow. Obviously, we’re working both sides of the ball on this drill and getting plenty of rod block reps with our live receivers on defensive backs.
Although it is a more difficult block due to the space problem, if the receiver sells the route of the pass and uses these techniques and drills, it is a doable block in youth football. Be sure and hold your receptors accountable for achieving this blockage. I tell my kids they’ll never see the ball if they don’t always block well. Remember that with the exception of Texas and Massachusetts, this block must be above the waist.
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