Defensive Lineman Techniques

How to Play Defensive End Youth Football | Defensive Lineman Techniques

Defensive players are the most athletic in football. The job of defensive positions in football is pretty straightforward, to hold down the end in the line and not let anyone get outside scrimmage. If you want to succeed at higher levels, you must be able to push the linemen back.

Similarly, if the defensive position in football does its job well, it makes the work of other positions easier. 

The sport of football is won in the line of scrimmage; if you control the line of scrimmage, you contain the overall sport.

Defensive Linemen Techniques.

For defensive tackles and defensive ends, it all starts with SAKR ( Stance, Alignment, Keys, responsibility)


Having the right stance is one of the most crucial things in Youth Football; if a player doesn’t have the proper stance, he has already lost the battle, and it usually is tough to come back from this.

There are two different kinds of stance which defensive linemen can use. 

  1. 2-point stance: One of the benefits of being in a lowered position than standing position is, you get to see a wide range of players, side to side, as well as into the backfield in an upright position. This allows defensive ends to maneuver over a slower offensive tackle to get the ball faster.
  1. 3-point stance: You have heard of the stories that low man always wins; in 3 point stance, you have put your one hand down, in the position of basketball hold, and having a great hand placement, active feet, and being low will take you a long way to trenches.
  1. 4-point stance: 4 points stance helps defensive position in football to move quickly. In a 4-point stance, both your feet and hands are in the ground that helps in spreading the bodyweight evenly.


If your defense isn’t aligned depending on the opponent’s offense formations, it doesn’t matter how technically sound your defensive line is. Your linemen must understand formations and adjust to the strong side of the formation. Most defensive positions in football lines up according to where the tight ends on offend lines up. Defensive players shout right or left, and the remaining player reacts and assigns themselves. 


Once the ball is snapped, the defensive line looks for keys from the offensive players lined in front of them.


Defensive positions in football have different responsibilities than other players in the team. They need to play to run and react to pass; they will be pushed towards the linebackers, and the ball will pass them.

Making of good defensive linemen.

The defensive line works with the linebackers to control the line of scrimmage. They are big, healthy, and quick in their sport. They have to react in a snap and have to be very agile to jam up the offense.

In a pass play, good defensive linemen will try to tackle the quarterback with a sack or attempt to disrupt the throw. If the linemen can disrupt the throw and make him hesitate to throw the ball, the defensive line has succeeded.

They are indeed the first line of defense, although they don’t get credit most of the time. The defensive line is the reason behind holding the line and tiring up the players; it is always the linebacker who gets the acclaim; meanwhile, it is the defensive line doing all the work. 

Watch your opponent.

If you’re playing at the high school level, most of the plays you see are runs. This can be disturbing for you because defensive ends are waiting to get a sack most of the time.

Just looking at where the offensive linemen are stepping, you can learn a lot about where the sport is getting. Offensive linemen will lead you to the hole he is trying to make for the running back.

You also have to understand that your job isn’t just about getting sacks, you should not let anybody outside you, and this works the same for quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers that help catch out the outfield. If they slipped past you, you have failed with your responsibilities, and mostly, you have to act fast and beat him there.

If your defensive line is strong, focused, and hardworking, you can swallow those running on first and second down to force a third and long pass.

Never give up.

This may sound cliché, but it’s so essential for a defensive line not to give up. By cutting across the scrimmage line, you have put the whole side susceptible and gave up for an easy touchdown for the opponents.

You never know when the opposing player will cut back towards you, fumble, or make a mistake, so the defensive line needs to chase the backfield player. Never cut across the line of scrimmage.

Play Smart.

You can continuously try guessing where the ball carrier is going before he does it. But when you fail to think correctly, you put your linebackers out to dry with lots of green space and attacking back. You can play smarter to limit your guessing attempts, make hard first contact with the players, and extend your arms.

Distancing yourself from the offensive line will help you see the ball carrier, but by not jumping a gap, you force the running back to pick the linemen’s side to run. 

Once he is done, you can put yourself in that position to slow them back down for the linebackers to make the play.

Defensive End Youth Football

Rushing the quarterback. 

Never let the quarterback be outside of you; keep him in front of you all the time. Especially when rushing a mobile quarterback, don’t hastily chase him as he can avoid contact quite easily. If you blow past your lineman too quickly, then the call was, most likely, a screen or draw, so get your head up and find the ball by any means.

To get your opposition, make the initial contact with the offensive line and extend your arms. Now you will be able to distinguish the sport from a pass or run. If it passes, you can use the number of moves to get past your opponent and get towards the QB.

Make sure don’t over commit to rushing from outside at too far of an angle; it will allow the quarterback to step up in the pocket to avoid your rush.

Get off the movement.

Defensive linemen must quickly get off the ball; if your defensive line is slow with the ball, they have to work on speed drills, and they aren’t that effective.

Defensive linemen should be aggressive. It’s about winning the leverage and inside hand placement. 

You have to get your basics done; the right stance can quickly help you get off the ball.


Proper use of hands is significant for defensive linemen. Majorly known as violent hands in football coaching terms. Defensive linemen in football should shock the blocker with a powerful jolt with the hands inside and thumbs up. Everything is about hand power, agility, and placement. We have discussed more how to practice drills related to hands before; you can check that out for more details. 

Defensive linemen should engage the blocker with its hands and either launch or rip the blocker.

Active feet.

When defensive linemen stop their feet, they will give up all the leverage and ground and get washed down or get pancaked. In most cases, when the defensive line has stopped their feet, they are already defeated. For defensive linemen, they must bring their feet while executing the rip move, which means the rip move should be quick, violent, and executed with active feet. No excuse, move your feet and get there.

Defensive Lineman

Low pad level.

We all know the advantages of being low in football. Drills that deal with skills like jolting, shocking, sinking our hips, ripping should be practiced daily for a defensive line. Defensive linemen should keep their feet under them and maintain a low center of gravity. Their feet should be shoulder-width while engaging. The broad base and choppy feet.

Common Defensive Formations.

Before each play, the defensive team will set up in a particular formation; each player stands and has its specific responsibilities. Though Formations and responsibilities will change as the sport goes on depending on the sport’s play and situation, most teams run with one base formation. The resulting formation is based on that base defense formation.

The 4-3 defense formation uses 4 defensive linemen and 3 linebackers, two cornerbacks, and two safeties. In comparison, the 3-4 defense formation has 3 linemen and 4 linebackers, two cornerbacks, and two safeties. It is similar to 4-3 but ads in linebacker instead of a defensive lineman.

In 3-4, the main focus is on the speed of the sport; the linebackers take on the more massive load both in covering and rushing the passer.


Finally, to conclude, a great defensive end should have strong legs and quick feet and judge things properly and understand whether a pass or run play is coming. He is generally tall, so he should be able to get to the quarterback or disrupt the throwing lane. He has to get separation from the blocker or blockers who are trying to shove him. No one should be able to get outside him, and if anyone tries to get inside him, the gap is usually occupied by the rear end of the linemen.


Recommended Read:

8 Defensive Line Drills Every Youth Football Needs


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