The game of football is full of tons of terminology, oftentimes leaving fans confused. Climbing the pocket is one of those terms you might hear an announcer say during a broadcast as if everyone at home knows what it means.
Climbing the pocket in football refers to a quarterback stepping forward in the pocket in order to avoid pressure from the outside rushers.
On most plays, the outside pass rushers are going to try a find a way around the offensive tackle in order to get to the quarterback.
The tackles are usually able to block these rushers but on some occasions, they will be able to work their way around the outside.
When this happens the outside rushers are going to be on either side of the quarterback. As these players close in the best thing a quarterback can do is step up in the pocket.
As he steps up in the pocket the pass rushers will end up behind him. This ultimately buys the quarterback more time in the pocket to throw the pass.
Climbing the pocket is difficult to do as it feels counterintuitive. When feeling the pressure as the quarterback it is easy to retreat towards your own endzone.
Retreating when a pass rusher gets around the tackle usually ends up in a sack and can easily stall your drive.
Quarterbacks that consistently step up in the pocket when feeling pressure are often commended for their ability to handle the pressure of a pass rush.
Benefits Of Climbing The Pocket
Now that you know what climbing the pocket is in football it’s time to learn a little more about why quarterbacks use this manoeuvre.
The main reason quarterbacks are taught to climb the pocket in football is so that they can buy more time to throw the football.
Moving well when under pressure is all about avoiding the sack long enough that you can make a throw. When climbing the pocket you are going to buy yourself at least a second of extra time to find an open receiver.
Experienced quarterbacks will be able to step up in the pocket without ever taking their eyes off their receivers.
This allows them to look for any opportunity to throw the ball when a receiver achieves separation from their defender.
Most passes are thrown only a few seconds after the ball is snapped which means the extra time earned from climbing the pocket is often enough to complete a pass.
Using Your Legs
Another way in which stepping up in the pocket can benefit your team is by creating a rushing opportunity for the quarterback.
It is not uncommon for athletic quarterbacks to try and run around outside pass rushers in order to gain some yards on the ground.
But when these quarterbacks climb the pocket they are given the chance to run right through the middle of the defense.
With the outside rushers behind him, the quarterback will usually only have two defensive linemen to get past.
The added momentum while moving up in the pocket will also allow the quarterback to gain his first few yards quickly.
A quick pump fake after avoiding the pressure is a tool that is often used by scrambling quarterbacks climbing in the pocket. If a QB has this in their repertoire they are well on their way to earning some yards on the ground.
Reducing Negative Yardage
The final benefit of stepping up in the pocket is that if you do happen to get sacked it is going to be for fewer yards. It is common for more inexperienced quarterbacks to travel backwards when pressure comes their way.
This often results in huge sacks costing the team a ton of yards. And in some cases, these negative plays can result in putting your team out of field goal or range or stopping a drive altogether.
By climbing the pocket you can ensure the sack itself will not have as big of an impact on your team.
In the best-case scenario, the quarterback will be able to complete a pass. But if the worst case happens and the quarterback is sacked the offense will only lose a few yards on the play.