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Defensive Backfield
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Offensive Line Center Snap
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Special Teams Strategy
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Intro to Football Strategy

 


 


On every down, guards and tackles must know the play, the snap count, and which defensive player they are responsible for blocking. The center has all these responsibilities, plus he has the added job of getting the ball to the quarterback.

Teaching an offensive lineman to be a center is not difficult. It does, however, require a great deal of practice in order for the center-quarterback exchange to be successful every play.

One of the easiest ways to introduce a young player to the center position is to have him get into a basic four-point stance. In this stance, the player's weight should be distributed evenly on the balls of both feet, his feet need to be parallel and spread about the width of his shoulders, and his back should be straight with his head up. The center's hands should be placed on the ground slightly ahead and inside of the outside points of his shoulders.

The coach should make certain that the player's shoulders are level and that the player's weight is distributed evenly on the balls of both feet and the fingers of both hands. Once the stance is correct, the coach should have the player charge straight ahead a few times, angle charge to his right and left a few plays, and set back as if he were pass protecting for the quarterback.

The next step is to have the offensive lineman, in his four-point stance, lift one of his hands off the ground. The coach then can place the ball on the ex-act spot where the player's hand had been. The player replaces his hand, only now he will be grasping the ball, rather than touching his hand to the ground. Eventually, with practice, the center will begin to feel comfortable with the ball as a normal part of his stance, an extension of his arm and hand.

It is important that when the coach places the ball on the ground, he does so with the laces pointing to the side away from the snapping hand, at the exact spot where the center's hand previously had been resting. As the center becomes more comfortable and proficient, the ball can be moved more into the center of his body in a position directly in front of his nose. With the ball in this location, the center can execute the snap with one or both hands on the ball. In either case, only one hand actually will grip and snap the ball. The other hand will merely rest comfortably on top of the ball to balance the center, or his non-snapping arm may rest on the inside of his thigh. These adjustments can come later; in the beginning it is easier to have success from a four-point stance.

As the center grasps the ball, his hand should be on the forward half of the ball, with the first knuckle of his thumb placed over the laces. The palm of the snapping hand would then rest on the outside of the ball and the four fingers of the center's hand should be spread, en-circling the underneath portion of the football. The center should feel that he has complete control of the ball.

The next step is to remove the ball again in order to show the center the manner in which the ball should be exchanged with the quarterback. If the quarterback is not available, the coach or another center can play the quarter-back calling signals and reaching under the center's buttocks so that the back of the top hand exerts slight upward pressure. Without any forward movement, the center should then reach back between his legs and shake hands with the top hand of the quarterback. This is the manner that the center should bring the ball up to the quarterback when he actu-ally is making the exchange of the ball.

When the center has a feel for the proper path needed to bring his snapping hand up to shake hands with the top hand of the quarterback, the ball I can be replaced under the center's snapping hand.

Using the ball, this simple drill can be repeated with the center actually placing the ball in the hands of the quarterback. Initially, because the emphasis must be on the actual exchange of the ball, neither the quarterback nor the center should move. The center should concentrate completely on making certain that he has brought the ball up correctly and that it is placed securely in the hands of the quarterback.

Once the snap and exchange are oc-curring without hesitation or a fumble between the center and the quarterback, movement should be added to the drill. Both the center and the quarterback will quickly feet the difference in the exchange when they actually are moving on a play.

In practicing this, the center should either drive straight ahead, to his right or left, or set up in pass protection. For all the running plays, where the center is moving forward, the movement of the quarterback should be down the line of scrimmage to his right or left, executing a reverse pivot to the right or left, or pulling away from the line of scrimmage to his right or left. When the center is executing a pass protection set, the quarter-back should take a five-step drop and set up to pass.

The first few snaps incorporating movement can be done without the ball, thus enabling the center and quarterback to get a feel of actually moving off the line of scrimmage together in the same direction or, more difficult, of the center going in one direction and quarterback moving in the opposite direction or moving away from the line of scrimmage.

As quickly as possible, the ball should be reintroduced as part of the drill. There may be a tendency for beginning centers to shift their concentration to moving into their block and they may forget that the first - and most important - job that they have to do is to place the ball securely in the quarterback's hands.

Once the center is secure in his snapping motion, the actual quarterback (and not a coach or another lineman) always should be involved in the drill. The more these two players can work together and the greater the number of snaps that they practice as one unit, the less chance there will be in a game situation for the snap to be lost.

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Play Football The NFL Way is the ultimate football manual for coaches and beginning players who want to learn the basics of football correctly. Author Tom Bass is a former NFL coach with more than 20 years of experience with the Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers, and Tampa Bay Buccaners.

For a personalized autographed copy of Play Football the NFL Way, plus information on the new Coach Bass Sport Maps - football guides that aid in watching and enjoying college and professional football, please visit http://www.CoachBass.com.

For information on Coach Bass' In-Depth Coaching Clinics go to http://www.Takeaknee.com.


 

 

 

 

 

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