More Detail on the Stalk Block
One of the more difficult blocks to master for receivers is the stalk block, but with some simple coaching points and drills, you can get your players to execute it fairly consistently. The stalk block is a block on a defensive back by a receiver or slot with the goal being to keep the defensive back out of the path of the ballcarrier. Some coaches just like to have the blocker shield the defender from the ball carrier, others like coach Ron Brown likes his kids to drive the defender after contact.
In youth football blocking in space is what separates the good teams from the great teams. The stalk block is often the difference between an 8 yard gain and a 25 yard gain. It is 70% attitude and commitment and 30% technique.
How It’s Done
The first step is to take the correct angle for the stalk block to make sure and gain leverage. If the defender is to the receivers outside shoulder, the receiver attacks the defenders inside shoulder. If the defender is to the receivers inside shoulder, he attacks the defenders outside shoulder. If the play is on the other side of the field, the receiver must take a shallow angle and attack the defenders inside shoulder.
Secondly the receiver needs to keep a 3 yard cushion with the defender as he runs his “route”. The receivers first steps have to be at full speed to get the defender to think pass first and to get the defender to backpedal. The longer you can keep that defender backpedaling the more distance you put between him and the ball carrier.
The Cushion Limit
Once the cushion between the receiver and the defender gets to be shorter than 3 yards, the receiver needs to slow down, gather himself and position himself to block the defender. He should lower his butt, keep his knees bent and be ready to move to either side with his feet moving. Some people call this buzzing the feet, what this does is makes sure the receiver has his feet moving to insure he is able to engage the defender.
Make the defender come to the receiver and commit to a direction. At this point the receiver can use whatever blocking technique your offense is committed to in space. Some prefer the receiver to contact with hands and release, reposition contact and release, others are just looking for a “pick” type block, they just want the receiver to get in the way. We like our receivers to maintain contact once they have engaged the defender. We don’t look for him to drive the defender downfield, but we do expect him to stay engaged with a both hands and a bit of the shoulders, making sure not to get outflanked.
Obviously feet are the key to this block. We do plenty of mirror type drills with defenders going against receivers, often with the receivers putting their hands behind their backs. The goal is to never get outflanked using quick feet to stay in front of the defender. We also do lots of defensive back read and react drills. We put receivers one on one with defensive backs, the receiver is signaled to down block, stalk block, run a smoke, go, slant or arrow. Obviously we are working both sides of the ball on this drill and get plenty of stalk block reps with our receivers live on defensive backs.
While this is a more difficult block because of the space issue, if the receiver sells the pass route and uses these techniques and drills, it is a doable block in youth football. Make sure and hold your receivers accountable for making this block. I tell my kids that they will never see the ball if they don’t consistently stalk block well. Remember with the exception of Texas and Massachusetts, this block has to be above the waist.
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