pancake block

What Is A Pancake Block & The Best Pancake Blocks In NFL

In the offense, every offensive lineman is first taught to run with the ball. This is the first thing coaches teach young players. For the defensive linemen, blocking the offense is the first thing they learn. But sometimes, the offensive linemen can pull a pancake block.

So, what’s a pancake block? A pancake block is a move where the offensive lineman blocks a defender so hard that the defender lays flat on the ground. It’s a dream move for every offensive lineman.

Pancake blocks are considered the holy grail of the offensive linemen. It’s widely celebrated as it guarantees a big play. Pancake blocks are very rare in football. But when they happen, they’re widely celebrated as seen in Shaun O’Hara’s block in the NFL.

Looking to learn more about the pancake blocks. Continue reading below.

History Of Pancake Block

The history of the pancake block dates back to the 1983-1984 collegiate season. During the period, Bill Fralic playing for Pittsburgh University reigned supreme.

He terrorized defenders knocking them so hard that most of them ended up on the ground and on their backs.

The act of knocking a defender flat often became that coaches started to count the number of times he registered a block in a game.

So afterward, the university media labeled his blocks ‘pancakes’ with the term sticking.

As years passed, other universities making the same blocks started using the term. A good example is Nebraska University which refers to the offensive block as a pancake block.

The term would spread widely, with Ohio State University adopting it. Orlando Pace was one of the best offensive linemen for Ohio State University by then.

His dominance was noted everywhere, with the then head of media sending magnetic pancakes to remind voters to vote for Orlando for the collegiate awards.

Currently, the term pancake block is used in all levels of football. It describes a block from an offensive lineman that sends a defender lying flat on the ground.

Why Is It Called a Pancake in Football?

It’s called a pancake in football because of how the defensive player lies on the ground.

defense player lying on the ground

When offensive linemen execute the pancake block perfectly, their power and momentum make the defensive player topple over. This leads to the defensive player falling straight to the ground and lying flat.

The defensive player’s flat position on the ground is compared to a flat pancake shape.

How To Perform A Pancake Block

So how do offensive linemen go about performing a pancake block? The execution of the pancake blocks seems easy on paper.

However, it’s pretty difficult to implement on the ground. Below are steps you can follow.

Step 1: Hand On The Ground 

The first step is positioning your body in a 3-point stance. You do this by placing one hand on the ground.

Make sure you put some weight on the hand to help generate some forward momentum. This allows offensive linemen to come out of the stance faster,

However, you want to ensure you don’t make a move so obvious. Defensive players can notice and prepare to counter.

Step 2: Explode Out of Stance

You need to explode out of your stance at the snap of the ball. You should then engage and block your assigned defensive player. When exploding, be sure to roll out your hips.

When engaging, you need to have your hands under the chest pads of the defensive player. This is crucial for achieving a pancake block. To block, you need to lift the player off their feet.

Step 3: High and Low

The third step is having your center of gravity low on the ground while pushing up. A low center of gravity gives you momentum to push up.

The arms and shoulders should do just half of the lifting. In essence, you need to use your entire body to lift the defensive player. What happens here is simply taking off their balance.

Lift their feet and back with your entire body. Once they lose balance, drive them to the ground hard.

When doing this, you need to keep your head up. This prevents defenders from pushing down your back helmet and knocking you off balance.

Step 4: Keep Arms and Feet Strong While Rolling Hips

You must keep your feet and arms strong to achieve a pancake block. As you drive them hard to the ground, ensure the feet are strong and firm in the ground.

defense and offense in a football game match

The arms should also remain strong to ensure they land hard. You also need to roll your hips. The power of your legs and core is what lands the defender hard to the floor.

You’re completely thrusting the defender to the ground when rolling your hips.

Step 5: Landing It Right

This is the last step where you land the defender on the ground and fall down. The last step of landing right is what devastates defenders.

Follow them to the ground with their feet loose and explode through them. With your head down, drive the defender down.

Land directly on the defender as you finish executing the pancake drop. This is a great way to gain some yards on the run.

By creating a pancake block, you’re creating an obstacle in the defender’s way and allowing your team a good running play.

What Positions Tend To Generate These Blocks?

Not every position will generate a pancake block. Positions in the offensive line always lead to the number of blocks.


Guards take the lead in generating pancake blocks. This is because they lead from the line. At the snap of the ball, they run downfield fast, creating bocks.

Their positioning makes them ideal candidates as they can generate momentum fast and layout defenders. What’s more, guards tend to block smaller players as opposed to defensive tackles who block bigger linebackers.

On most plays, guards can double-team interior rushers by hitting them o the sides.


Tackles line up on the outside, playing one-on-one with outside rushers. They generate pancake tackles on running plays.

On passing plays, they are protecting passes and rarely block. Just like guards, tackles can run downfield on running plays and create pancake blocks.

Tight Ends

Tight ends can also create blocks against defenders. However, most have smaller bodies making it difficult to deal with bigger outside linemen.

Due to their small size, most pancake blocks from tight ends occur when defensive players are caught off guard. They usually make chip blocks from the back.

Best Package Blocks In NFL

Some of the best blocks in the NFL can leave fans excited and thrilled. You can watch some of the best blocks in the NFL.

defensive player blocking opponent in football

Pancake blocks in the NFL are rare but quite thrilling when they happen. Watch a compilation of the best pancake blocks in the NFL.

Pancake Blocks FAQs

Is a Pancake Block Holding?

A pancake block holding is a legal block below the waist. The attempt is made on defensive players so that they fall to the ground and stop pursuing the ball carrier.

Who Has the Most Pancake Blocks in NFL History?

Tommy Kraemer holds the most pancake blocks in NFL history. He has a school record of 23 pancake blocks which is two more than one set by jake Hilvert.

 Who Holds the Most Records in NFL History?

Tom Brady holds the most record in NFL history. Brady has 241 career wins in the NFL, which is the highest. Bret Favre follows him at 186.


Pancake blocks are considered a holy grail for offensive linemen. While they’re rare, pancake blocks provide chances for big plays. Every player on the offense needs to learn about pancake plays and how to perform them. 

They appear simple in play but are quite hard to execute. Players need a proper 3-point stance, faster explosion on snap, and strong arms to push defenders high and low. This makes them lose balance before you can land them hard on the ground.

Guards, tackles, and tight ends are some of the positions that generate more pancake blocks in football. You can learn a pancake block with a few lessons and practice.

Read Also: Check out our guides and discover what a chop block and a crackback block are in football.

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