Crack Back Blocking
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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
? 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
God Bless You,
Robert B. Babcock
© 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.