In Football, What is a Pancake Block? (In-depth details!)

Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Alex PT

A pancake block in football is a devastating block by an offensive lineman in which the defender he’s blocking ends up flat on his back. The name comes from the way that the defender is often driven into the ground, like a pancake.

What is pancake block in NFL?

What is pancake block in NFL

1. Definition and Overview

A pancake block in the NFL refers to a specific move performed by the offensive linemen. The pancake block is an ideal maneuver, where an offensive lineman forces a defensive player flat on his back, as one would flatten a pancake, hence the term ‘pancake block’.

2. Objective of the Pancake Block

The primary goal of a pancake block is to take a defensive player completely out of a play, allowing the offensive players more space and freedom to maneuver. By effectively taking the opponent entirely off their feet, this block can significantly swing the momentum of a play in favor of the offense.

3. Impact and Benefits

One cannot underestimate the impact of a well-executed pancake block. It not only makes a clear path for a running back but also demoralizes and physically exhausts the defensive player, making them less effective over the course of the game.

4. Difficulty and Skill Level

Executing a pancake block requires an excellent combination of raw power, technique, balance, and timing. Because of its high degree of difficulty, it is a sought-after skill and is highly respected within the sport.

5. Notable NFL Pancake Blockers

Some notable NFL players have become famous for their pancake-blocking abilities. Examples include Hall of Famers Larry Allen, Anthony Munoz, and Orlando Pace, who demonstrated exceptional skill and prowess in this highly specialized role.

Hall of FamerRoleAchievements
Larry AllenOffensive Line10-time All-Pro honoree
Anthony MunozOffensive Line11-time Pro Bowler, Nine times All-Pro
Orlando PaceOffensive LineSeven times Pro Bowl, Three times All-Pro

6. Changing Role

Though the pancake block is a celebrated move, in recent years, its emphasis has somewhat declined due to evolutions in playing style, with more focus on pass blocking compared to run blocking. However, it remains a potent weapon in an offensive lineman’s arsenal.

7. A Symbol of Dominance

Despite its decreased emphasis, the pancake block still symbolizes the ultimate show of dominance on the NFL field. It demonstrates the lineman’s strength, skill, and ability to control the game physically.

The pancake block, while just one piece of the complex puzzle that makes up an NFL game, holds its unique allure for both players and fans alike and remains one of the sport’s most spectacular and satisfying maneuvers.

Where did the term originate from?

Pancake block was first used as a term in NFL several decades ago. In a more precise manner, it was used by the Pittsburgh Panthers during the 1983 and 1984 seasons to depict the blocking ability of the legendary Bill Fralic. He was renowned for his prowess in knocking down opponents with their backs flat on the ground. His blocking expertise was labeled as ‘pancakes’ and the term has become a household term used in the NFL till today. The pancake block still remains unofficial but it is a widely used term to describe a situation where an offensive lineman made a block move that left defenders flat on their backs during NFL games.

How can I execute a pancake block?

How can I execute a pancake block

As stated earlier, the pancake block is the term used to describe the outcome of a well-executed block move made by offensive linemen on defenders. However, the process is easy to describe but the execution is not a simple task as it requires a high energy level, absolute power, and strength.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to perform a pancake block move.

Step 1 : put your hand on the ground

The first step to take is to put your body in a three-point position and put a little more weight on the hand you placed on the ground. This move will ensure an increase in the forward projection of the body. 

Step 2 : explode at the snap of the ball

The next move is to fire out of your stance and quickly engage the particular player that you are assigned to block. The plan is to swiftly reach out and grab the chest pad of the opposition to have the advantage needed to execute the pancake block.

Step 3 : push up and back

To maintain the advantage as an offensive player, it is essential to have your center of gravity low to the ground while you keep pushing high and low at the same time. This move will be gradually getting the defenders off balance which will give you leverage to push them hard and straight back down the field.

Step 4 : strong arms and feet

Show massive strength by keeping your feet moving as you drive back defenders during the process. Ensure your arms are well right and maintain a strong hand to send the defenders stumbling back on their feet.

Step 5: ove your hips

This is a crucial step in the process of executing the pancake block. Rolling your hips while you maintain a strong arm and feet will ultimately land the defenders on their backs.

Step 6: keep up the execution till the end

The final step requires you to follow up on the process to ensure perfect execution. Follow them forward once their feet lose contact with the ground and push harder to get on top of them and ultimately help other teammates gain yards on the run of play. 


We have a compiled list of frequently asked questions on what a pancake block is in the NFL. Let’s check them out!

Who invented the pancake block?

Although the term was first used to describe Bill Fralic’s blocking prowess, the invention of the pancake moved to Orlando Pace in 1996. The term resulted from a situation where an offensive lineman knocked a defensive lineman with his back flat on the ground.

Why is the term called the pancake block?

Bill Fralic’s blocking prowess was well-known during the 1983 and 1984 seasons. His devastating blocking of the move puts the defenders flat on their backs. This move became famous and was eventually labeled ‘pancakes’ by the media relations department of Pittsburgh University. The term remains unofficial today but it is a widely used term in NFL.

Is pancake block a legal move in NFL?

The history behind the invention of this term shows it’s not an official term at any level in NFL. However, the pancake block is a legal move and it is generally accepted as part of the NFL game.

Can you pancake defensive players in NFL?

As an offensive player, yes! The pancake block is a move that shows the total dominance of offensive linemen over defensive players during NFL games. However, this move is not easy to execute as it requires strength, aggression, and power.

Final words

Pancake block is an unofficial term in the NFL but is widely used by players and fans across the world. The term is used to describe a devastating block move orchestrated by the offensive lineman on defensive players which puts the defenders flat on their backs and ultimately creates a hole for running players to exploit.

This article was aimed to provide enough resources to answer your queries about what a pancake block is in football and we hope this write-up has done justice to that. If you have more questions regarding the article topic, kindly reach out to us through the comment section.



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