Football Zone Blocking Schemes For Offensive Linemen

Zone blocking has become a very effective blocking scheme in football from the little leagues to the pros. It is primarily used to open up running lanes for the offense while taking away stunt and slant attacks and is increasingly used in the passing game. What makes zone blocking schemes so popular is its adaptability to almost any offense. What it does is take away the one on one blocking assignments for offensive linemen and puts them in more effective blocking strategies.

The offensive linemen in this scheme do not have to be the tallest, strongest or biggest linemen on the field. The type of offensive linemen zone blocking requires need to be more athletic, have good foot speed and movement. Coordination and technique are far more valuable that just strength and size.

This article will focus on what zone blocking is, why it works and 3 different types of zone blocks.

Instead of blocking the man in front of a guard, tackle or center the blocking assignments become zones. offensive linemen must even learn to read the defense.


The main purpose of the zone it to outnumber the defensive players at the point of attack, neutralizing defensive stunts and slants.


There are three basic zones, the inside zone, outside zone and the stretch zone.

1. Inside Zone: The play is inside the offensive tackle
2. Outside Zone: The play is outside the offensive tackle
3. Stretch: The play is inside the last offensive player.

Reading the Defense:

Offensive linemen must do more than just block, in the zone blocking scheme they must learn how to read the defense and assign a level to each of the defenders they face. They must determine if the defender is level 1 or a level 2 threat and if the offensive lineman is covered or uncovered.

1. First level threat: Any defender who by design of the defensive scheme appears to be a threat to a gap. What this means not only is the defensive linemen on the LOS a first level threat but any linebacker that is lined up two yards back from the LOS and appears to be ready to blitz a gap would have to be considered a first level threat.

2. Second level threat: This will be any defender who appears to be reading the flow of the play and will not be attacking the gaps on the snap of the ball.

3. Covered Lineman: The offensive lineman has a defender in front of him or he can tell a defensive player is assigned to him.

4. Uncovered Lineman: He has no one in front of him and does not appear to have some one assigned to him.

Zone Blocks:

1. Base Zone Blocking: The offensive lineman focuses his eyes on the playside numbers of the defender and explodes off the snap at the proper angle, the angle being where the defensive lineman lines up. The first step is done with the near foot; the second step should place the blocker square with the defensive player. As the blocker is stepping through the defender he wants to be punching both hands into the center of the target just as he does in a drive block.

2. Scoop block: This block is very effective for an outside stretch play. The Scoop blocks primary function is to cut off the pursuit of the defender. It begins with a level one defender and progresses to a level two. This block begins with eyes focused on the outside number of the defender and a strong push off on the inside foot. Contact should be made by the second step which is a cross over step. The offensive lineman wants to rip his inside arm to the play call side armpit of the defender, turning the defenders stomach up field then release to block the linebacker.

3. Fold Block (Trap block): In this example we will be using the right guard and right tackle. The fold block is usually called when a defensive lineman is lined up in the gap where the play is going. For our purposes the hole will be on the folding lineman’s outside shoulder (R Guard) and the down-blocking lineman’s (R Tackle) inside shoulder.

The down blocker must fire off the LOS on the snap, stepping up field in a lateral movement. His left leg should step in front of the defensive lineman and his face mask should be planted in the numbers while driving the opponent down the LOS.

The fold blocker, pausing for half a second, should step to his right scooping behind the down blocker, just grazing his before heading up field. Once contact is made with the linebacker the fold blocker wants to place his helmet just under the linebackers left arm driving him back Even if the fold blocker is not able to drive the linebacker back, he should have created the seal that allows the running back to make more yards.

In conclusion the zone blocking schemes for offensive linemen have produced stronger running games by utilizing the athletic talents of the line. Regardless of the type of offense you run, zone blocking can add power to your running game by stopping defensive slants and stunts and help improve the passing game. These were just a few of the zone blocks teams are using to gain more yards on the ground. Use the links below to see DVDs that can show you how to install zone blocking schemes into your offense.