Monday, January 23, 2012

Blocking Practice

I love the expression.  This young Outlaw is throwing all she
has into the practice.  She is going up against a bigger
and probably stronger "opponent" and she isn't giving in. 
Vince Lombardi is credited with saying, "Football is not a contact sport, it's a collision sport - dancing is a contact sport." 

I've collected a lot of collision photos in recent Outlaws tryouts and practices.  In the January 14 tryouts Coach Narlen picked up the hand-held blocking target and invited prospective Outlaws to practice blocking  him. 

I've commented before about my love of the intensity athletes bring to sport.  It is difficult to convey that in still photos.

Facial expressions may give a clue. 

But not always.

Well, facial expressions may not always reflect intensity.  This is my
friend, Q.T..  I asked her real name but I'm old, bad memory.  I forget.
Q.T. is always working hard - maybe in our next post I'll offer more
proof of her dedication and hard work.  But her facial expression
doesn't say "intensity."  It says "happy." 
I like happy. 

Another clue is in the lead-in to the hit.  You can see intensity in the way the blocker takes a bead on the blocking pad and charges. 

Intensity, focus.  She's aiming at the opponent and getting
ready to drive into his middle - well, his blocking pad.
You can't hear the force of the hit in a photo but she's making
good solid contact. 

Note in these photos there is a ball carrier.  When the drill started it was just blocker versus blocking pad.  Coach decided to help blockers appreciate the importance of what they were doing by having the next-in-line carry the ball.  So the blocker could appreciate the importance of a good solid hit.  She's protecting her teammate with the ball.  I thought that was a good coaching technique.

Another blocker taking aim at the blocking pad, setting her shoulder
low for a good solid hit in the middle of the tackler.

And driving her shoulder into the target. 

We've talked a little about bein' big in football.  Sport in general rewards speed.  Football rewards both speed and body mass.  Normally the two don't come in the same athlete.  A smaller player may have difficulty dealing with a larger and stronger opponent.  But a quick runner may not need much help.  If the blocker can just distract the tackler, that's enough.  

The blocker looks to be about seventy pounds lighter than the
tackler.  But she's laying a good hit on him and her runner
looks quick enough that the block should be enough.

Still, a blocker being as big as or bigger than the tackler does make the tackler's job more difficult.

This blocker is big enough to keep the coach
occupied as long as necessary for the runner
to get past and down the field.  Bein' big can
be an asset in football. 

In two recent  posts I suggested the intensity of football sometimes leads to fights.  The heat of competition  involving physical strength and pushing competitors around can cause tempers to flare and fists to fly.  I wondered if football practice should include practice fighting.  Nah. 

Well... the two pictures that follow suggest maybe the blockers are thinking the way I do.    

Is she practicing her right jab?  Is that tear in the blocking pad a result of her punch? 

She's not really going to throw a right hook at the coach.  Or is she?

Blocking remains one of my favorite subjects.  Blocking gets less recognition than practically any other activity in football.  But it is often the key to gaining yardage, completing a pass, winning or losing.  Future blog posts will focus on blocking. 

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