Watch the Holding

JULY, 2020
If you’ve ever been around the sport of football and have gotten up close then you have heard this phrase. This is usually what defensive linemen or other defensive players say when their opponent is holding them. Sometimes you may hear this from other positions as well. 
In the sport of football when you use your hands to grab and hold your opponent this is called holding. Holding is illegal and should be called by the officials when they see it happen during competition. However there is a lot of subjectivity when holding happens and when it gets called by the officials.

I remember as a college football player getting held by offensive lineman and being frustrated. I wasn’t the type to go and complain to the referees but I would come back to the sideline and complain to my teammates for my coaches. I would usually say “I am tired of them holding me.” My thought process was to just become stronger so that I would be harder to hold. And for most of my college career that was a good strategy because it worked.

However by the time I made it to the next level and was playing in the NFL, the offensive lineman were bigger and sometimes stronger. As a rookie, I remember coming back to the sideline and telling some of the veteran defensive lineman about how bad the offensive lineman were holding. I remember the veteran defensive lineman chastising me saying don’t ever complain about an offensive lineman holding you because that’s what good offensive lineman do. The veterans told me the offensive linemen get paid to protect the most important position on the field, which was the quarterback. The veterans told me the best offensive linemen hold every play and the referees and officials usually don’t call holding unless it is blatantly obvious.

So what the veteran defensive lineman taught me to do were techniques to help get the offense of lineman’s hands off of me. They showed me how to find weak points in their wrist and elbows to apply pressure and use leverage. My job was to get to whomever had possession of the football. It didn’t matter if I was getting held or if I had a free path, my job was to sack the quarterback or tackle the football carrier. If I didn’t do this then I wouldn’t have a job. If I let someone stop me from doing this effectively I wouldn’t have a job. 

I’ve used this lesson I learned in football to help me in life. I’ve come to realize there are rules and interpretations that may seem unfair to me. I’ve learned to not complain about obstacles or adversity, but to embrace them. I’ve learned to use obstacles and adversity to my advantage to become more resilient. I’ve learned to become stronger and more technical to overcome my opponents. While some go to the referee and complain about being held, I choose to do something about it. I choose to focus on my performance and how I can help those around me with their performance. As a coach my advice to my athletes was to always find a way to get your job done. No excuses!

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