American Football Resources - Sportsfy

American Football Terms

12th man: Refers to the audience at a football game.

All-Purpose Yardage: The total number of yards gained by a player. This includes rushing yards, receiving yards, and return yards.

Audible: Refers to when a quarterback changes the play at the line of scrimmage by yelling out signals.

Blitz: A defensive scheme in football where extra defensive players, usually linebackers or defensive backs, rush the quarterback. In general, if the number of rushers is five or more, it is considered a blitz.

Bump And Run: A defensive strategy where the defensive back lines up right in front of the wide receiver, and attempts to hinder the receiver's route by making physical contact.

Chain Gang: Assistants to the officials. Two members of the chain gang hold up the poles on both ends of the chain, and a third members holds the down marker. This way, players, coaches, other officials, and the audience know what spot the offensive team needs to reach to get a first down and how many more opportunities that team has.

Coin Toss: At the beginning of the game and at the start of the overtime period, a coin toss is conducted, with the winner of the coin toss deciding whether to take possession of the ball first.

Completion: When the receiver successfully catches a forward pass.

Corner back: A position in football. A cornerback's primary responsibility is to defend against the pass.

Defensive End: A position in football. A defensive end lines up at the end of the defensive line. The primary role of the defensive end is to rush the quarterback.

Defensive Linemen: A position in football. A defensive lineman's primary responsibility is to stop the run and rush the quarterback.

Defensive Tackle: A position in football. A defensive tackle lines up on the inside of the defensive line in a 4-3 defense. The primary role of the defensive tackle is to stop the run.

Double Coverage: When two defensive players cover an eligible receiver.

Down: A unit of play in football, which starts when the ball is hiked by the center, and ends when the ball is considered dead.

Draw: A type of offensive play where the quarterback first drops back as if to pass, and then hands the ball off to the running back or runs with the ball himself.

End Zone: The scoring area of the football field. The end zone is bounded by the goal line, the end line, and the two sidelines.

Fair Catch: During a punt play or a kickoff play, a player on the receiving team can elect to fair catch the ball by waving his hand above his shoulder while the ball was in the air. Defensive player cannot touch or otherwise interfere with the player making the fair catch. The player making the fair catch cannot advance the ball.

False Start: When an offensive player makes a movement before the ball was hiked.

Field Goal: A scoring play in football whereby the kicker on the offensive team kicks the football between the uprights and over the cross bar.

Forward Progress: Refers to the furthest point a player who carries the ball get to before being tackeld. The next down starts at that point.

Fullback: A position in football. A full back lines up between the quarterback and the halfback, and his primary role is to back for the halfback in a running play and to protect the quarterback in a passing play.

Fumble: When a player loses control of the football before being tackled.

Goal Post: The posts at the back ends of the end zone, through which a team can score field goals and extra points.

Goal-Line Stand: Refers to when the defensive team attempts to stop the offense from scoring when the offense has the ball close to the goal line.

Hail Mary: A desperation pass attempt that usually travels a long distance. This type of pass usually happens at the end of the half or the end of the game, and usually has little chance of success.

Halfback: A position in football. A halfback is usually smaller and quicker than the fullback, and is the primary ball carrier on running plays. On passing plays, a halfback often becomes a passing target.

Hand-Off: When one players gives the football to another player on the same team. Most frequently a handoff happens between a quarterback and a running back.

Hands Tteam: When one team is likely to try an onside kick, the receiving team will usually send out players who have experience catching the football, in an effort to have a better chance to secure the football during that play.

Hang Time: Refers to the amount of time the football was in the air during a punt play.

Holder: In field goal and extra point tries, the center hikes the ball to the holder, who will put the ball down for the kicker to kick it.

Incomplete Pass: When a forward pass is not caught.

Intentional Grounding: Refers to when a quarterback throws the ball away (I.e., to an area where there is no offensive player around) to avoid getting sacked. This is illegal and the offensive team will be penalized.

Interception: A forward pass that is caught by the defensive team.

Kicker: A position in football whose primary role is to kick field goals and extra points. Most kickers also handle kickoff duty.

Kickoff: A play that starts a drive. The kicking team kicks the football from its own side of the field (exact location depends on what level of play) to the receiving team, who can return the kick once received.

Lateral: A backward pass, where one player passes the football to another player on the same team who is located behind or right next to the passer. Lateral can occur an unlimited number of times in a play.

Long Snapper: In a kicking play from scrimmage (field goal, extra point, or punt), the offensive player who snaps the ball is call the long snapper, because the ball needs to travel for some distance before reaching the holder or the punter.

Neutral Zone: The space that separates the offensive and defensive at the start of a play. The neutral zone is bounded by the two ends of the football.

Nose Guard: A position in football. A nose guard is a defensive lineman who lines up directly across the opponent's center, commonly seen in a 3-4 defense. A nose guard's primary role is to stop the run.

Mose Tackle: Same as nose guard.

Off Tackle: A type of offensive play in football where the running back attempts to run behind the offensive tackle.

Offensive Linemen: A position in football. An offensive lineman's primary responsibility is to block for the runner in a running play, and to protect the quarterback in a passing play.

Onside Kick: When the kicking team purposely kicks the ball short in an attempt to recover the ball itself.

Picked Off: A forward pass that is caught by the defensive team.

Play Action Pass: When a quarterback fakes a handoff to the running back, and then drops back to pass.

Play Clock: Refers to the timer that counts down the time the offense team has to get off a play.

Punter: A position in football. A punter's primary responsibility is to punt the ball, usually on a fourth down, to keep the opposing team as far away as possible.

Quarterback: A position in football. The quarterback usually lines up behind center and receives the snap. On running plays, the quarterback hands off to the runner. On passing plays, the quarterback is the player who throws the pass. The quarterback may also gain yards by running.

Quarterback Keeper: A type of offensive play where the quarterback keeps the ball and runs in an attempt to gain yards.

Quarterback Kneel Down: A play where the quarterback received the snap from the center, and immediately put his knee on the ground to stop play.

Quarterback Sneak: A play where the quarterback received the snap from the center, then immediately runs forward in an effort to gain yardage.

Quick Count: When a quarterback calls the signals quickly so the offensive team can start a play quickly in an effort to catch the defense off guard.

Receiving Yards: The number of yards an offensive player gains by receiving a completed pass.

Red Zone: The area between opponent's goal line and the opponent's 20-yard line is called the red zone. An offensive team's chances of scoring increases significantly if it reaches the red zone.

Sack: When the defensive team tackels the quarterback who is attempting to pass behind the line of scrimmage, resulting in a loss of yardage.

Safety: A scoring play where a player with control of the football is tackled inside of his own end zone or runs out of bounds in his own end zone.

Shotgun: A formation where the quarterback lines up several steps behind the center.

Signal Caller: The quarterback.

Special Teams: The group of players who are on the field during kicking plays.

Touchdown: A scoring play where a player with control of the ball enters the opponent's end zone.

Turnover: When the position of the football changes to the defensive team as a result of an interception, a fumble recovery, or when the offensive team fails to get a first down on a fourth down play. For statistical purposes, only an incerception and a fumble recovery counts as a turnover.

Two-Minute Warning: In the NFL, the two-minute warning is a official timeout that occurs when there is only 2 minutes left in either half.

Two-Point Conversion: After scoring a touchdown, the scoring team has the option to go for two additional points by attempting to run a play to reach the end zone from the 3-yard line.

Wide Receiver: A position in football. A wide receiver often lines up away from the line of scrimmage, and whose primary responsibility is to catch the football on a passing play. On running plays, a wide receiver often blocks for the runner.

Yards After Catch: The number of yards an offensive player gains by running with the ball after catching it.