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Crack Back Blocking
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Teaching the Crack Back Block

The Crack Back Block is generally defined as a block made on an inside defender against the flow of the play. There is very little information about teaching the crack back block. I do not claim to be the ultimate authority on the subject by any means. However, we have successfully run many crack back type schemes for years and we rarely get called for illegal blocks made while attempting to crack back.

Why incorporate Crack Back Blocks into your offense?

You most likely already know the answer to this question or you would not be reading this information. The crack back block can give your parameter players an advantage. You can put these players in an environment where they can help with the running game. The alignment itself will give the parameter players an advantage many times.
Crack type blocks can also create a wall on the field. This wall is not an impenetrable force but can be set up quickly and can detain a large part of the defense while your offense forces a smaller player to make a one on one tackle. These offensive walls isolate secondary types one on one with your best skill position personnel.
One adjustment that defenses will try to make to prevent your alignment advantage and to counter the crack back block is to change their defensive alignment. Many times a defense will set their defenders in an alignment that is outside your perimeter players. We have found that although this does effectively limit the outside running game it gives up even more to the inside running game, trapping game, and passing game.

Here are some of the positives of good crack back blocks:
* Relatively easy to teach.
* Give your offense a larger variety of plays.
* Create blocking advantages.
* Allow your smaller parameter players to contribute to the running game.



Alignment

I am sure that there is another term for the distance between the split offensive man and the defender that he plans to crack. We call this distance “range.” As a general rule we tell our players to cut down their range as their split takes them closer to the main body of the defense. Many of the defenders we crack are defensive ends, linebackers, or defensive backs close to the line of scrimmage. At times we give our split personnel a little leeway in determining their own range. In general we want about a two-yard range on a defensive end. Some defensive ends will require less and others more.
Some defensive players will play games with offensive players when they try to set up their alignment. It is good to have a couple of simple audibles to take advantage of this. You will rarely have to go to such lengths but you may choose to put the player that is cracking the defensive end in motion.
If the range is too great the defensive player may penetrate too fast to be cracked. If the range is too short the offensive player may loose his advantage and the defensive player may penetrate the barrier that you are trying to set.
Figure 1
In figure 1 the alignment and range are demonstrated. Here a slot has set up with a little less than two yards in range. From this alignment the defender should not be able to penetrate too far up field or slip to the outside without a fight. This offensive player is off the line of scrimmage. It may be harder for an end to get this type of alignment.

Figure 2
Here the offensive player pushes hard off his back foot as he steps to the inside. It is very important that the offensive player leads the defensive player enough to intercept him at a point where he will be in position to make a legal block. The offensive player must keep his head in front of the momentum of the player he plans to block unless the player turns his back to the defender.
One mistake many offensive players make is what we call an “over shoot.” An over shoot means that the offensive player was moving too fast to control the block. In this case the defender simply sidesteps or shucks the offensive player and pursues the play. He can do this because he uses the offensive player’s momentum against himself.
Figure 3
If the defensive player continues to accelerate up field the blocker must force a change in momentum. He only has to change this momentum slightly to disrupt the defensive player’s angle of attack. Many coaches will teach the blocker to get his head in front of the defender. However, we have found that this creates too many over shoots. We teach the offensive player to concentrate on the aiming point of his hands and the position of his head in relation to the defender.
Figure 3 shows the blocker attacking the arm of the defender. The aiming point of the inside hand is the arm of the defender. If the offensive player can push the outside arm of the defender to the inside he should never miss the block. Attacking the arm will turn the defender to the inside slightly. Even if the blocker misses the arm his hand will be where it needs to be.
Keeping his head to the front of the defender the blocker will attack the armpit with his outside hand. Here the offensive player must understand that if he gets his hand too far behind the player the referee may very well call for an illegal block. If the blocker gets his hand too close to the front of the defender the player may be able to spin out of the block to the outside. Attacking the arm, armpit, and keeping the head to the front will almost always yield a decent crack when the defender is accelerating up field. A hard shove at the point of impact will allow the blocker to set up to block the defender when he recovers or to pick up other defenders to block.
Players love to destroy the defender on crack back blocks. There are times during a game when this happens but they are few and far in between. Attempting to devastate the defender with a bone crushing block often leads to penalties, over shoots, and plain old missed blocks. There is a time to put on the big hit and your player will have to known when to do it and when to just make the block.
Figure 4 demonstrates the hand position slightly before the shove. You can see that the offensive player’s head is to the front of the player but not engaged. He has attacked the arm and the armpit. If his knees are bent he will be able to use the defensive player’s momentum against himself. The play should develop well to the outside of the defender before he recovers. The recover and a well-placed offensive blocker will prevent him from taking a good tackle angle to the ball carrier as well.
Figure 4
Figure 5
It may or may not seem silly to some coaches but certain defenders will turn their backs to the blocker as he attempts to crack. They may be taught to do this or they may be following some type of counter action that the play contained. Whatever reasons a defender may have for doing this we will not attempt to block him until he recovers to pursuit the play. We consider this a battle that is already won. Instead of our blocker trying to force the defender off the path the defender has chosen to turn on his own. Any type of contact here will be called for an illegal block every time.
If the offensive player sees only the back of the defender he is to “sit down” slightly down field and prepare for the defender to try and make a recovery to pursuit the ball. The blocker must keep enough separation to keep the defender from spinning down field and to keep from getting the penalty.
If the defender is running away the offensive player may look to block any other defender that shows play recognition in the area. This rarely happens because most defenders are taught better and are too well disciplined to let this happen.

Figure 6
In figure 6 the defender has decided to take an angle down field. This does not happen too often. Anytime this happens the defender is, most likely, already in trouble and is attempting damage management. Here our offensive player will attempt to get his head in front of the defender’s momentum.

Figure 7
Here more basic blocking rules apply. The blocker will get his head in a down field position. He needs to keep his head up and his body low. Attacking the down field armpit with the facemask will force the defender up field or to try and defeat the blocker. Either outcome is good for the play because of time limitations.
In general your blockers will be smaller than the defenders they are required to block. That is perfectly fine as long as they realize that you are not asking them to defeat the defender merely force him to take valuable time by changing his trajectory up field or defeating the block. If a defender spends too much time defeating blocks the offensive player is victorious despite the outcome.
In figure 8 the defender is trying to read the play. This is one case where we let our offensive players go for the kill shot. We expect the defender to turn slightly just before the hit as he reads the ball flowing to the outside. However, we still teach the head to the front to prevent injury and the penalty as tempting as that open flank may be. This may lead to a “spin out” by the defender but if he is trying to read he is basically “dead in the water” and has very little chance of accelerating to speed in time get to our ball carrier.
Figure 8
Figure 9
Figure 9 is the finish to attacking a reading defender. A game rarely goes by that we do not get some type of tremendous hit (which we call a Molash) on a crack back block. These huge blocks get the sidelines and the rest of the offense excited and can be good momentum builders. However, we continually stress that the block itself is more important than the big hit. We reward good blocking with or without the big hit because rewarding only the big hit blocks will often create an environment where players are hunting the big hit and not focusing on making sure that the job gets completed.

Hints that may help your crack back blocking game:

1. Make sure your players understand that it is important for them to force the defender up the field or to defeat them.
2. Make sure your players understand that even though they may have been defeated during the play that they actually won because they detained the defender long enough for the play to work.
3. Explain to your players why you teach the crack back block the way you do and what is and is not illegal.
4. Make sure that your players do not attack the defenders too low or too high.
5. Incorporate some play-action where the offensive players appear to be cracking before running their routes.
6. Talk the referees prior to the game. Inform them that your offense relies on good legal crack back blocks. You may even explain how you teach it. The more informed they are the less likely they are to call a legal block illegal.
7. When an offensive player is split further away from the main body of the offense he may need to accelerate a couple of steps down field prior to taking the proper angle to crack. This, at times, will loosen the defense.
8. Work a short drill where your players practice setting up a crack blocking wall especially in a double crack back situation.
9. On certain plays split your end out only about six yards. This will let him get in on some of the excitement.
Crack Recap (coaching points)

Teach proper alignment and range.

Forward accelerating defender
? Take the proper angle of attack
? Lead the defender
? Attack the defender’s arm (w/inside arm)
? Attack the defender’s armpit (w/outside arm)
? Keep the head in front of the defender (w/o major contact)
? Shove the defender
? Prepare for his recovery

Back Turned (facing away)
? Sit down slightly down field
? Get low, bend knees, and get the hands up
? When the defender recovers force him up field or make him defeat you

Accelerating down field
? Take the proper angle of attack with you head pointed down field
? Attack the player with the head positioned high and the body low
? Force the defender to waste time defeating the block
Reading (sitting still & unaware)
? Take proper angle of attack
? Lower your body
? Get the head in front
? Annihilate
? Do not “over shoot”

Figure 10 is an example of a play that contains a double crack. The DE and S are in red to show you where the double crack are taking place on this one back option play.
Figure 10
In closing:

I hope that you were able to get some good ideas. If you are interested in offenses that use the crack back blocking scheme you should check out X-Treme Schemes Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. X-Treme Schemes Vol. 1 explains a spread offense based on motion, crack back blocks, and the trapping game. It is available free on this site. X-Treme Schemes Vol. 2 explains the passing and play-action passing game from the same types of formations. Both are available at www.BigN2Football.com as well as a large amount of free information on fundamentals and techniques of coaching and playing football.

I would love to hear your comments and maybe even include them on later editions of this paper. Email your comments to voc@renegadeo.com

God Bless You,
Robert B. Babcock
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© Copyright 2003 Robert B. Babcock All rights reserved
We have used these crackback blocking techniques with the Renegade Offense for years. They are extremely useful when running from spread formations. You can download The Renegade Offense in the BigN2Football Store. Just click here.