Run blocking in football refers to the action of blocking defenders on a play in which the offense is going to gain yards via running with the ball as opposed to passing it. Offensive players that are not receiving the ball on this play will be assigned run blocking responsibilities.
Run blocking is a very important aspect of football as it is largely going to determine the success of the run game. If a team has poor run blocking the defensive line will be able to clog up the holes and get into the offensive backfield.
Even the best running backs will struggle when the run blocking in front of them is poor.
On the other side of the coin, a great run-blocking team is going to make it incredibly easy for the running back to gain yards. Every year in the NFL you will see running backs play well above their quality due to the run-blocking they receive in front of them.
Key positions in run blocking
Now that you know what run blocking is in football you may be wondering what players play the biggest role in this part of the game. Below we will cover several positions that are involved in run blocking and what their assignments usually are.
The offensive line is typically going to play the biggest role in run blocking. On rushing plays the offensive line is going to look to create a hole in the defensive line for the ball carrier to run through.
Depending on which hole they are going for guards, tackles or centers are going to have to move defensive players out of the way via run blocking.
On some plays, the guard or center may be asked to pull and block downfield for the running back.
On these plays, these offensive linemen will not look to generate a hole but will instead run downfield in front of the ball carrier and block linebackers or defensive backs.
Tight end is another position that is heavily involved in run blocking. The main reason for this is that the ball is almost always run to the strong side of the formation.
The strong side of the formation is the side of the formation that has more players. Generally whatever side the tight end lines up on is going to be the strong side.
Since the strong side has more players it is always going to be the better option to run towards.
This results in the tight end having to run block on the side of the field the ball carrier is going towards on almost every rushing play.
This makes it crucial that the tight end lays an effective block as failing to do so means there is going to be an unblocked defender in the running backs path.
The fullback position is a bit of a dying breed in football but when these players are on the field run blocking is their main responsibility.
Fullbacks often play the role of lead blocker on rushing plays. This means they will travel through the hole the offensive line has created and block the defender waiting on the other end.
Since the fullback is often going to be right in front of the running back their blocks are often going to have a huge effect on the play.
For this reason, fullbacks are one of the key positions when it comes to run blocking in football.