ITP Glossary: Hold Up Technique

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From wide 9 technique to personal protector, 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.

Hold Up Technique

Hold up technique is a method of blocking used by rushers on the punt return team. The goal is to “hold on” as a  means of keeping the punt coverage team in place, preventing them from getting downfield. Rather than attempt to rush the punter, hold up technique involves legally grabbing an opposing punt coverage lineman’s jersey and maintaining leverage and positioning to delay his progress. Holding penalties will be called if: 1) the  hands are outside of the shoulders; or 2) the hold lasts more than three seconds.

Although punt return units can bring pressure in hopes of a block, teams looking to set up returns can employ a number of different strategies along their line. Hold up technique is the primary maneuver used to keep the coverage unit linemen in place in order to give the returner more space in which to operate.Austin2

In the still above, five St. Louis Rams use hold up technique against the Washington punt unit. Notice the hands of the rushers located centrally on the chest of the linemen, indicating the Rams return unit is more concerned with keeping Washington’s coverage unit linemen in place than with trying to get past them to block the punt. The use of hold up technique by the St. Louis rushers prevented the defenders from getting downfield, leading to a Tavon Austin touchdown on this play.

Another example of hold up technique occurred in this matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers:


Circled in yellow, this Eagle rusher is engaged at the line of scrimmage with a Carolina lineman. Rather than trying to avoid contact in an attempt to block the kick, the rusher engages the lineman with both hands, locking him in place.

In this case the battle continued even after the initial block is released:Eagles3

The rusher continues to battle the lineman – now several yards behind his teammates – which creates a seam in the coverage unit for the returner to exploit. In this case, Darren Sproles took advantage of these gaps up the middle for a touchdown:


Chuck Zodda wrote this entry. Follow him on twitter @ITP_ChuckZ.

Inside The Pylon covers the NFL and college football, reviewing the film, breaking down matchups, and looking at the issues, on and off the field.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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