ITP Glossary: 3-Point Stance

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

3-Point Stance

The three-point stance is the most common technique among interior defensive linemen and traditional base 4-3 defensive ends, as it allows for burst forward off the ball with leverage against opposing offensive linemen. A defender is in a three-point stance when they have both feet and one hand on the ground, generally with at least some of their weight on the hand on the ground to allow faster movement forward once the ball is snapped. Typically the DL will place whichever hand is closest to the football down in the dirt, so there is a left handed and right handed 3pt stance. In order for the player to have balance through their stance, the leg on the opposite side of their hand on the ground is tucked in.  

3 Point Stance Still 1The three-point stance is common among players with run/pass responsibilities that are focused more in front of them, as larger and heavier defensive linemen have few coverage responsibilities that force them to move backward. Because these players move forward at the snap of the ball, having one hand on the ground in a three-point stance allows for their weight to be leaning forward and for the defender to be able to fire low off the ball with speed and leverage.

One example of a player using a three-point stance to fire quickly off the ball comes from Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (#55) in the Bills’ Week 10 game against the Miami Dolphins. With 4:40 remaining in the third quarter and facing 3rd and 12, the Dolphins are in a trips left formations with inverted slot formation to the right and an empty backfield. The Bills show blitz and rush five against QB Ryan Tannehill (#17). Hughes is in a three-point stance outside the right tackle, with his weight leaning forward to get a jump on the snap.

3 Point Stance Still 2

He times the snap very well with great initial burst and speed, and immediately stresses right tackle Jason Fox’s (#74) pass set to the edge. Hughes’s early speed catches Fox off balance through the rep and allows Hughes to use a spin move for a strip sack.

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The biggest downside to a three-point stance is that it surrenders the mystery that a two-point stance provides, as a player in a three-point stance is much less likely to drop into coverage or really to do anything other than defend a run gap or rush the passer. A three-point stance gives advantages to the defender coming off the ball, but also makes it easier for offensive players to predict their responsibilities.

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Ryan Dukarm wrote this entry. Follow Ryan on Twitter @DBRyan_Dukarm.

Video courtesy of NFL Game Pass.

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