In the sport of American Football, the lineman position has very unique physical requirements unlike most positions in other team-sports. Linemen need to have a combination of size and speed which are opposing qualities. The first step off the line of scrimmage for the offensive line is crucial to successful running attacks. A tremendous amount of lower body force and power is required to accelerate their large bodies from a 3 point stance to drive blocking the defensive player, who will be working equally as hard to resist and overcome these forces. To prepare linemen for these types of situations, a heavy emphasis is placed on strength and power development in the weight room. Exercises like the squat and power clean are often prescribed to help develop lineman play on the field. 1RM in these exercises as well as vertical jump testing are often done to predict performance. However, there has been no published work that has explored how these tests and exercises relate to lineman play, such as drive blocking.
Just recently, Jacobson and coworkers (2014) sought to determine the relationship between drive blocking and the aforementioned weight room tests in a group of 18 collegiate offensive linemen. Average and peak velocity was measured during a simulated drive block against a football sled dummy. A Tendo unit chord was attached to a belt on the lineman. As the lineman fired out of a 3 point stance and hit the dummy, the velocity parameters were assessed. On separate days, the linemen then had there 1RM’s tested in the back squat and power clean as well as vertical jump height. In addition body mass and composition was assessed via BodPod. Statistically significant correlations were observed for the following:
Average Velocity of Drive Block correlated with; Squat 1RM (0.42), Power Clean 1RM (0.56), Vertical Jump (0.77) and negatively with Body Fat (-0.63)
Peak Velocity of Drive Block correlated with; Squat 1RM (0.69), Power Clean 1RM (0.77) and Vertical Jump (0.53).
Association were also found between Vertical Jump and Power Clean (0.7) as well as Power Clean and Squat (0.87).
The authors concluded that the traditionally prescribed assessments (Squats, Power Cleans and Vertical Jump) should remain as integral components to training programs for football linemen. Also, due to the negative association between body fat and average velocity, efforts to reduce body fat would likely be beneficial. However, total mass of the lineman is an important factor. Linemen that are too light may not be as effective. Therefore, an balanced ratio of mass and power are desirable.
Jacobson, B.H., et al. (2014) The relationship between selected strength and power assessments to peak and average velocity of the drive block in offensive line play. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Ahead of print.