As a young boy, Chilo Rachal grew up extremely passionate about the game of football. It was with that enthusiasm he was able earn a scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California. After dominating in college for three seasons, the 49ers selected Rachal in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. And now with two seasons of experience under his belt in the pros, the physically imposing guard has learned plenty of valuable advice to share. Check out his tips on how play on the offensive line!**
You have to be dedicated to hard work if you want to play on the offensive line. You have to be that way with any position, but it's very important on the offensive line. I'd say you also have to be eager to get after it. Whether it's in a practice or in a game situation, embrace every opportunity to play football.
In terms of technique, the first and most important thing you need to know about playing on the offensive line is that the great ones stay low. If you look at any of the best offensive linemen, they all play with great pad level. They never stand straight up; they're always staying low to keep in front of their opponent. When two football players go head-to-head, the low man always wins. Always. With that in mind, you have to keep a good base, with your feet slightly wider than your shoulder width. It's important to get a good bend, but to also keep your back straight so you don't fall over. The best way to practice your stance is to hold it for long periods of time. Feel comfortable in how you're going to be positioned on the field – that's important.
If you play on the right side of the line, at guard or tackle, put your right foot slightly behind your left foot. If you play on the left side, at either guard or tackle, make sure your left food is slightly behind your right foot. Make sure you're in a comfortable position, almost like you were sitting in a chair or shooting a free throw in a game of basketball. But remember, in basketball you come up to shoot the ball. In football, you'll need to stay low the entire play.
When I was younger, I was raw, technically speaking. I relied on my strength much more than my footwork. But nowadays, kids are able to utilize technology when researching the game of football, and they should. You can go on the internet and search "offensive linemen drills" or watch highlights of well-known offensive linemen. Once you see someone doing it the right way, you can just repeat what they do and it becomes second nature.
It's not crucial to start lifting weights at a young age, but I used to always do 25 pushups before I went to bed. I figured I would be using my upper body a lot in football, and being dedicated to building that upper body strength paid off in my high school days. Those pushups certainly transferred over. I got a lot stronger by doing that.
Overall, I think playing offensive line is just like playing defense in the game of basketball. The objective of both is to keep your man in front of you, and not let them get by you. If you play offensive line, I'd suggest playing basketball too. It will help your foot quickness and your ability to keep in front of quick opponents. In basketball they teach you to keep a wide-base just like in football. You also can't cross your feet in basketball, and the same goes for football. If you do that, you have no chance of staying in front of someone.
My last tip is always know your assignments. When the play is called and it's time to block, as offensive linemen, its five guys working as one. You have to work together, and you depend on each other to know what you're supposed to do on each play. You want to always have five guys playing on the same level, so make sure you're focused on executing every play.