The Push-Pull-Rip Technique for Defensive Line

Ravens Defensive Line
Defensive players Timmy Jernigan #97, Brandon Williams #98, C.J. Mosley #57, and Kapron Lewis-Moore #95 of the Baltimore Ravens wait to line up against the San Francisco 49ers an NFL pre-season game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 7, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
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The Push-Pull-Rip Technique for Defensive Line

Successful defensive line play requires much more than brute physical force. Proper technique is necessary in winning the battle versus an offensive player.  

The Push-Pull-Rip move is a key technique every defensive lineman should learn.

Firing out from a balanced lineman stance, the hands form a “V” between the thumbs and forefingers. This hand position allows for maximum ability to deliver a solid hand strike to the offensive player, and to better grasp the opponent’s chest.

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Striking the Offensive Player

The defensive player strikes the offensive player’s chest with the heel of the palms. This shows the proper positioning upon the opponent’s chest. When in shoulder pads, the hands will grasp the outside of the offensive player’s breast plate.

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Neutralize the Opponent

The hands “punch” to neutralize the opponent’s momentum. The defender must deliver the blow to the chest with his arms positioned inside the offensive lineman’s arms. If the offensive lineman gains inside positioning with his arms first, the defender is beaten.

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The Push-Pull

Upon grasping the offensive player’s chest, the defensive lineman pushes forward with one hand while pulling back with the opposite hand. The force of the “push-pull” knocks the offensive player off balance.

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Making the Tackle

With the foot on the side of the arm “pulling” the offensive player, the defensive lineman steps toward the opposite hip of the offensive lineman. As the defensive player secures this hip-to-hip position, he “violently” rips his inside arm up and underneath the offensive player’s arm. This moves the off balance offensive player away from the defensive lineman, allowing the defender to penetrate the line of scrimmage and make the tackle.

Coaching Points 

  • Walk through the Push-Pull-Rip technique step by step.
  • If one side of the offensive player is leaning more forward, the defender is to “pull” with the arm to that side of the defender.
  • Proper balance throughout the technique is a “must” for defensive linemen.
  • Video player drills to show players what improvement is needed.