Stance Matters!!!

Getting into a good stance is so important but athletes probably spend the least amount of time practicing.  It's easy to overlook the importance of getting into a good stance cause everyone is always thinking of the end result.  Also, it doesn't help that a 300 lbs defensive line is right across from you wanting to tear your quarterback or running back apart.  But if we were to break down a play and really analyze an offensive lineman that missed a block or got bull rushed into the back field, you will see that the initial problem is usually their stance. 

Playing on the line requires an individual to be ready right away since you would only have a split second before making contact.  This holds true for both offensive line and defensive line.  Every other position usually has a couple of seconds before making contact with the defender but contact on the line is pretty much instant.  This is why a good solid stance puts the athlete in a position to fight.  If we were to look at other sports, stance is important.  Fighters get into a certain stance cause it allows them to move in different angles, basketball players get into a certain stance when they shoot free throws and baseball pitchers get into a certain stance so they can generate power from their legs into throwing the baseball.  But offensive or defensive lineman are still taught to get into a stance that isn't functional and put them in the best position to fight.  If you are still coaching the offensive line stance with spread your legs shoulder width apart, point your toes straight or worse, point your toes in, squat down and drop your hand to the ground.  This is not a solid stance progression and the lineman is not ready to fight.  Best way to test is just push the player from the side while he is in stance and see if he is solid.  If he isn't, then he is already going to be at a disadvantage off the snap of the ball because when the defensive lineman engages, his body will be adjusting and auto correcting while the defensive lineman is push him into the backfield.  This is why getting into a good stance progression and really owning that progression makes a huge difference.  Stance is a skill and if it isn't practiced correctly, you will run into problems.

Another point to make is that kids do not grow up blocking, pushing or doing a pass set.  Kids grow up practicing how to throw a ball, catch, kicking a ball, running and even chasing other kids in a game of tag.  Growing up, kids are taught not to push, block or throw other kids.  This is the mindset they grow up with so once they are put on the football field, got some pads on and told to just block; I can understand why a kid is confused or lost.  Add the fact that we put them in a stance where they are not stable and at a disadvantage, I can see why kids would rather play on the defensive line instead of the offensive line.  Playing defensive line is like chasing other kids in a game of tag.  This is something they are used to doing and have been training for a long time.  

The only way to improve this game is to improve the important things like stance.  As coaches, we get caught up in teaching the hands or the sling shot cause it looked cool when we saw it executed by an NFL player on television.  I was taught the old way of getting into a stance and never knew that minor changes could make a big difference.  I've corrected my understanding and now teach the OLP stance and the drive catch method used by NFL and college players.  I've been teaching this stance to a number of athletes throughout my coaching career and seen a huge improvement in their play.  That is why I will always remind all of the athletes that train with us to practice their stance when they get home.  I can tell who practiced and who didn't.  The one's that didn't practice will always come back the following week and go through their old progression, legs shoulder width apart, squat down and put their hand to the ground.  Then we would need to spend time walking them through the correct stance progression.  The one's that practice will just go through their progression and get into the same stance every time.  They ingrained the process and it ends up serving them well in the regular season.