The first duty of the forwards of a football eleven is to learn thoroughly and be able to put into practice sure methods of blocking their opponents, in order that the latter may not be able to break through the line and tackle run-ners before plays can be fairly set in motion. The object of football is to score points and no team is able to do this unless the backs receive the protection they have a right to expect from the men who are playing in the line.
There are two methods of blocking an opponent, although these two permit of numerous variations. Opponents can be blocked with the shoulder or with the hip. Blocking with the arms is attempted at times, but this comes dangerously close to holding and is, as well, less effective for the purpose desired.
Generally speaking, the blocker should keep as close as possible to the man whom he is to keep out of the play. He is thus all the better enabled to watch his every move and be ready to anticipate it. He should study the position of his opponent in each play and follow him in his every move. While the opponent has the advantage in one sense, being able to use his arms in getting through, the blocker has one marked superiority over him, in that he has secured, through the signals of his quarter back, an accurate knowledge of the play that is to come and the direction in which it is to travel. Accordingly, he knows best which side to guard and the length of time which he will have to detain his opponent. Usually this is but a fraction of a second. The blocker should, the moment the ball is snapped, jump into his opponent, striking him squarely with the shoulder, if possible. He must keep his feet well under him to avoid a possible sudden jerk which would throw him forward on his face. In case the shoulder compact should be avoided by the opponent in any way, the blocker should endeavor to stop his man by interposing his hips. Often a player can wrap himself about an opponent by this method, so that the motions of the latter are completely checked for a moment, which will be time enough for the play to have gotten well under way.
Upper - Blocking with hip. Lower - Blocking with shoulder.