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Be Physical with Reach Block Fundamentals

The outside zone play is a versatile scheme that can have a profound impact on any offense. Kyle Flood, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the University of Texas, gives some detailed points on how to remain physical when running outside zone. 


Coach Flood starts by describing reach blocks, the most fundamental block of the outside zone play. When reach blocking, offensive linemen try to gain leverage on the play side half of the defensive lineman aligned in the play side gap. Rather than bucket stepping, losing ground to gain ground, or other passive ways to gain leverage, Coach Flood describes some techniques that allow your offensive lineman to dominate at the line of scrimmage while still attempting to gain outside leverage on a play side defender. 

Flood defines reach blocks in two ways:

1. On the body (Figure 1)

a. The defender is aligned over the tip of the shoulder pad of the offensive lineman

2. Off the body (Figure 2)

a. The defender is not lined up over the offensive lineman at all


Figure 1 (On the Body)


Figure 2 (Off the Body)

For on the body reach blocks, the offensive lineman's objective is to capture the play side half of the defensive lineman. For aiming points, Flood says the blocker must:

Place his nose on the defender’s play side number

Place hands inside the framework of the defender (on the chest plate)

And smother the defender with his feet. Some say step on the defender’s toes.


This is not always a block that is achieved right away, and often the offensive lineman has too strain for several yards to try to reach his aiming points. Once outside leverage is gained (Figure 3), The offensive lineman must press vertically into the defender. Flood says that he wants his offensive linemen to block their defenders upfield, not just side to side.


(Figure 3: Vertical push once outside leverage is achieved.)

Coach Flood explains on the body reach in the video below.

For off the body reach blocks, aiming points slightly change:

Target slides from play side number to the midline of the defender

Hit defender down the middle with face pointed outside the defender play side

If the landmark remained at the outside number, the blocker’s angle must be flatter. This allows for the offensive lineman to get beat inside, which could result in disruption in the backfield.


With these landmarks, the defender lined up off of the body of the defender must make a choice. He can:

 Play the gap that he is aligned in, and the ball will go inside of him. The offense is generally okay with this because since the defender is already aligned so wide, the gap becomes elongated and easier to run through. 

Get greedy and jump inside of the block. In this case, the offensive lineman has made solid contact because he struck the defender right down his middle, and now the defense has no edge because the down lineman vacated his assigned gap. 

These landmarks will allow your offensive linemen to play fast and physical-- not worrying about losing ground to gain ground or bucket stepping, but rather owning an angle and firing off of the football. 

Coach Flood is at Texas now after winning an FBS National Championship with Alabama.  He details all his techniques in his course “Run Game Fundamentals.”

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