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The wide receiver: more than a pass catcher.

Wide receivers do more than simply catch the ball. They are also integral parts of the running game. A big block downfield can mean the difference between a big play, possibly a touchdown, and simply another first down.

As a receiver coach, you have to teach your receivers to catch the catchable ball and, just as important, make 100% of their blocks. That is the goal we strive for with our receiver corps.

We work very hard on technique all year long, striving to give our receivers the edge over their defenders. Outstanding all-around receivers have to master the five following essentials: Stance, Start, Angles, Break-Down Positions, and Stalk/Cut Block.


The stance is extremely important in enhancing the explosion off the LOS. The sooner we can get to the defensive back (DB) - break his cushion - the easier it will be to achieve our goal, whether to break off into a route or to block the DB.

The stance is an athletic position with the hands hanging straight down and relaxed and the upper body bent slightly forward with a flat back - forming a straight line from the top of the helmet to the lower spine.

The inside leg is placed back with the heel off the ground and a slight bend in the knee.

The front leg has more of a bend in the knee. The foot is placed flat on the ground with the weight over the ball of the foot.

Unlike most receivers, the WR must keep his inside leg back in order to get a better angle for his inside-out leverage blocking (described later on).

Our receivers also try to get as much of the ball as they can. For example, our X receiver in our straight I formation is already on the ball (on the LOS), but our Z receiver must set up off the ball in order to be eligible for a pass (check diagram). He thus has an extra yard or so to travel on his block.

I teach our Z receiver to place his front foot on line with the QB's knees, as this will give him less distance to travel to his block or route. As is true with all receivers, both X and Z will make an "off" or "on" call to the official (line judge) to alert him to their alignment.

Lastly, the WR will turn his head inward at the ball as we move on the snap, not on cadence. A proper stance will make the WR more productive on his blocks and routes.


The faster and more powerful the stride, the better position the WR will have for blocking or pass receiving. Since the WR's #1 rule is to break the DB's cushion, it's very crucial to get off the LOS as quickly as possible.

As previously mentioned, most of the WR's weight is placed on the ball of the front foot (outside) foot. On his first movement, the WR must strive hard to bring his back leg forward without replacing (lifting) his front foot or moving it forward. Any time his front foot moves first, he will be wasting time by over-extending his base.

As the back foot moves forward, his shoulders must drive down as they leave the LOS. The WR must hide his number from the DB as he thrusts off the LOS. This is a powerful movement that will require practice to ensure success.

The receiver must make every start look like a pass play, which is why he drives his numbers down. Coaching point: Remember that the DB is taught that whenever a receiver shows his numbers or straightens up when slowing down, he is going to make a break. The DB will become responsible for pass first.

If, therefore, the WR can make the DB think pass, he'll be able to facilitate his run-blocking.

With an explosive start off the LOS, the WR can occupy the DB without even blocking him, so long as the DB thinks pass off of the LOS.


Next to his start, the receiver's angle off the LOS is the most important part of run blocking.

The WR must attempt to get an inside-out (I/O) leverage block on all run plays. That means the WR must keep his backside between the ball and the defender. Coaching point: The WR's angle off the LOS may vary according to his position - playside or backside.

A playside block does not require as severe an angle as a backside block, as the outside 1/3 DB is responsible for outside contain. As a result, the DB's inside number can provide a good aiming point for the playside WR.

But on the backside, because the play is going away from the outside 1/3 DB, the backside DB will shuffle on the snap and get to his pursuit angle recovery lane. Therefore, the backside WR must take a severe inside leverage angle to get his backside between the ball and the DB (see diagram).

To ensure a good inside angle, the receiver's first step must be inside. This is the reason why the WR's inside leg is back in his stance. It is easier to step inside with the inside leg, because if you step inside with the outside leg, you must cross your body or step up the field first. To achieve I/O leverage, the receiver cannot afford the time to set up the field first.

With proper angles off the LOS, a WR can ensure proper positioning for the breakdown position and the block.


The break-down position occurs after the WR has achieved an inside angle on his path to block the DB. The question now is when does the receiver break down the block? As he releases off the line on an inside leverage path, the receiver must train his eyes on the DB. If the DB is in his back-pedal or has turned and is running with the WR, the block does not have to be made while the DB is occupied.

Occupying or running off the DB is as good as a block, but if the DB takes a bucket step or drop step, the WR must realize that the DB has read run and the WR must break down and block. The rule for a receiver is to achieve I/O leverage and buzz his feet when the DB takes a bucket step or drop step.


Now that the breakdown position has been achieved, the WR must decide whether to stalk or cut-block. We incorporate both blocks into our receiver package. Our rule is that a receiver may cut-block only if enough momentum is supplied by the DB coming toward him. If the DB is not charging hard and is simply squatting in his zone, the WR must stalk him.

The stalk block is achieved while in the breakdown position (as previously described). This is an athletic position with the thumbs together near the breast plates and the feet buzzing. The WR does not go to the DB. He lets the DB come to him. As the DB establishes contact, the WR must keep I/O leverage and punch the DB's outside number, then retreat back into his breakdown stance.

As the DB creates contact again, the WR must punch and retreat again. If the WR cannot keep I/O leverage and the DB gets head up to the WR, the WR must press the DB's outside number to set up the block for the running back.

The WR will be able to make the stalk block as long as he breaks down, remains patient, and does not over-extend.

The cut-block is a very difficult block that requires much practice in game situations, as you should never cut your own teammates in practice. It is an outstanding block when properly executed.

First, the WR must remember that it is the DB who supplies the momentum on the cut-block; i.e., the WR should not dive at the DE's legs. The block can be made while on a sprint to achieve I/O leverage, usually by the backside receiver, or it can be made out of the breakdown position, usually by the playside receiver.

The rules for cut-blocking are the same in both situations. The WR must dip his trunk and take his outside ear hole to the DB's backside leg, just beneath his knees. Note: The WR must feel that if he were to take just one more step, he would step on the DB's toes.

As the outside ear hole hits the DB's backside leg, the WR should rip his outside arm up in a powerful movement to ensure more contact on the DB's lower body. The WR must cut the DB's backside leg, or the DB will slide off the block.

These two blocks can best be achieved by thoroughly understanding the technique, as well as being intelligent enough to know when to use each type of block.


Our wide receivers take pride in their blocks. We are a run-control offense, although we will throw the ball 10-20 times per game.

Approximately 70% of the time we are blocking. As I have stated, a big block downfield can mean the difference between a touchdown and simply a first down.

Over the course of a season, I see a lot of opposing receivers who go 100% - but only on pass plays. Our receivers go 100% on all plays - run or pass.

A receiver should never relax simply because the ball isn't coming his way. A good WR will make the big catches. A great receiver will make the big catches AND the big blocks down the field that will spring teammates for touchdowns.

Our break-down position is as follows:

1. Feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart - buzzing feet (foot fire).

2. Slight bend in the knees and trunk.

3. Head up and looking at DB.

4. Hands inside breast plates with thumbs together for punch technique.

It is very important to break down to block, as the DB will run right by the receiver if the receiver is not in a good athletic position.

Pete Gareri, Jr., Wide Receiver Coach, Texas City (TX) H.S. (1997 Class AAAA Division State Champions)
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Title Annotation:football
Author:Gareri, Pete, Jr.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Jan 1, 1999
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