Football Terminology

Football contains an abundance of terminology specific to the sport. Understanding that terminology will enhance your knowledge of the game. To start, here is a list of offensive terminology.



The side to which a play is run


The side away from a play


The side away from Y

Weak Flow:

When both backs go weak

Strong Flow:

When both backs go strong

Split Flow:

When the backs move in opposite directions


Establishes flow to one side with the ball carrier cutting to the other side (misdirection play)


When backers are lined up behind a lineman


When a backer is covering a center, guard, or tackle


Even Front:

Center is completely uncovered

Odd Front:

Center is covered

E (Defensive Ends):

Outside men of down four

T (Defensive Tackles):

Inside men of down four

M (Mike):

Middle linebacker

S (Sam):

Linebacker on tight end side

W (Will):

Linebacker away from tight end side

C (Corners):

Outside men in secondary

SS (Strong Safety):

Inside man in secondary – SS on Y side called strong safety, away from slot called weak safety

F (Free Safety):

Inside man in secondary – F is away from Y, called free (or weak) safety

P (Plugger):

Weak inside linebacker on 50 front. Also weak side linebacker on goal line 6-2



The cornerback rotates up to force the run or plays short outside coverage in zone


The safety rotates up to force the run or plays short outside coverage in zone


Two secondary men play a receiver in and out

“S” Walk Away:

S backer walked away from Y to the outside and slightly deeper

Bump and Run:

Cornerback playing up on wide receiver and covering him man to man. This can also be known as “Press Coverage”

Squat Technique:

Cornerback waiting for wide receiver to get to him before making commitment to cloud coverage

Underneath Coverage:

The short zones between the line of scrimmage and the deep secondary people, usually occupied by linebackers

Four Under:

Number of defenders occupying the underneath coverage in normal pro front zones

Five Under:

Number of defenders occupying the underneath coverage in a normal 34 front, total coverage zones


Refers to one or more extra defensive backs replacing linebackers or linemen in coverage


Those areas between underneath defenders that are susceptible to pass completions


A dead area between the deep coverage of the secondary

Soft Spot:

The area between the sideline and the defensive safety (2 deep)

Free Release:

A back coming out of the backfield without any blitz pickup responsibility

Hot Receiver:

A receiver who must look for the ball if a specific linebacker blitzes


A running back/tight end who must check a specific linebacker/s before going into his pattern


Width of alignment of receivers and backs


The number of yards from the line of scrimmage you are to make your final cut on a pass route

Inside Out Technique:

A pass protection technique used by backs to pick up an inside blitz first, and if not there, to then check for an outside blitz


Five man protection (Line Shifts)

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