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.

GENERAL TERMINOLOGY

Playside:

The side to which a play is run

Backside:

The side away from a play

Weakside:

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

Counter:

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

Stack:

When backers are lined up behind a lineman

Bubble:

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

BASIC FRONTS TERMINOLOGY

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

GENERAL PASS OFFENSE TERMINOLOGY

Cloud:

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

Sky:

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

Bracket:

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

Nickel:

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

Windows:

Those areas between underneath defenders that are susceptible to pass completions

Seam:

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

Check:

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

Split:

Width of alignment of receivers and backs

Depth:

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

Scat:

Five man protection (Line Shifts)

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