‘I’ FORMATION: See formation.

ILLEGAL MOTION: Movement by an offensive player before the snap. Illegal motion is, obviously, illegal, and gets a five-yard penalty.

ILLEGAL PROCEDURE: Used to indicate a number of infractions, including an illegal snap, having less than seven players on the offense’s line of scrimmage, and taking more than two steps after making a fair catch.

INCOMPLETE: A forward pass that is not caught or intercepted.

INTENTIONAL GROUNDING: The quarterback purposefully throwing the ball out of bounds or into the ground to avoid throwing a bad pass (which might be intercepted). Intentional grounding can be difficult to call, but a referee may assign the offending team a five yard penalty and the lose of their down!.

INTERCEPTION: The catching of a forward pass by the defense (this turns the defense suddenly into the offense).

INTERFERENCE: There is offensive interference, when blockers run in front of a running back, and defensive interference (or defensive pass interference), when a pass defender interferes with a receiver trying to catch the ball while the defender could not catch the ball himself (intercept). For example, a defender with his back to the ball who sees the receiver he’s covering readying to catch the ball and then waves his arms in front of the receiver to distract him is interfering with the pass. Defense interference is an infraction of the rules.

KEY: Watching a player to try and see the direction in which he is going to be moving. A player may make small movements such as foot placement, etc., that can give away his next move to an observant player who is keying him.

KICK: Attempting to score a point or field goal after touchdown by kicking the ball.

KICKING GAME: The game strategy revolving around punting and place-kicking.

KICKOFF: The kicking team (determined by the winner of the coin toss) kicks the ball from the free kick line (the 35-yard line in pro football, the 40-yard line in high school and college). This is the kickoff, the start of the game.

LATERAL: As a forward pass, but not thrown in the direction of the opponents’ goalpost. Rather, the ball is thrown in any direction other than towards the opponents’ goal.

LINEBACKER: Defensive players placed behind the defensive linemen. Their job is to tackle runners and block or intercept passes. There are three or four linebackers.

LINE JUDGE: An official who keeps track of time and also watches for various violations, including the quarterback’s position when passing (the quarterback isn’t allowed to go past the line of scrimmage to pass).

LINEMEN: The players on the forward line (see offensive linemen and defensive linemen).

LINE OF SCRIMMAGE: Before each play, a set of two imaginary lines are used to determine where the players will line up. These are the lines of scrimmage, and pass through each tip of the ball, running parallel to the goal lines.

LIVE BALL: Opposite of a ball that is dead. A live ball is either loose as a result of a kick, fumble, or pass, or is held by a player.

MAN IN MOTION: The player who turns and runs behind the line of scrimmage, parallel to it, as the signals are called. He then runs downfield just as the ball is snapped.

MAN TO MAN DEFENSE: Covering each member of the offense with a member of the defense. Also called player-to-player defense. See zone defense also.

MIDDLE GUARD: The defensive lineman positioned between the tackles, opposite the offensive center. Also called the nose guard.

MOUSETRAP: See trap block.

MULTIPLE OFFENSE: Offense strategy using a number of formations.

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE (NFL): The best-known association of professional football teams. Composed of the American Football and National Football Conferences. The champions of each conference play each another in the Super Bowl during each year in January.

NICKEL DEFENSE: A defensive formation involving five defensive backs, hence the name.

NOSE GUARD: See middle guard.

NUMBERING SYSTEM: The system used by the NFL to number players’ uniforms according to their position. Works as follows:

1-19: quarterbacks and kickers
20-49: running backs and defensive backs
50-59: centers and linebackers
60-79: defensive linemen and offensive linemen
80-89: wide receivers and tight ends.

ODDS: The returns on money bet on a game, based on the likely outcome of the game as determined by an Oddsmaker (see below).

ODDSMAKER: One who establishes the odds for sports betting.

OFFENSE: The team with the ball; the offense attempts to run or pass the ball across the defense’s goal line.

OFFENSIVE BACKFIELD: The area or players behind the offensive linemen. These are the running backs, the quarterback, and a second wide receiver. See also Offensive Linemen, below.


OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Seven players, made up of the center, two guards, two ends, and two tackles.

OFFICIAL: One who supervises the game and interprets the rules.

OFF SEASON: When the football teams don’t play; February through the middle of August.

OFFSIDE: When a player is over the line of scrimmage (on the opposing team’s side) before the ball is snapped.

ONSIDE KICK: A short kick (though at least 10 yards), with the plan being to recover the kick and thus gain some yardage.

OPEN UP HOLES: To push the opposition aside by blocking them to open up holes in their defense through which a runner can pass with the ball.

OPTION PLAY: An offensive play wherein the player with the ball has the option of running or passing.

OUTSIDE: Toward the sideline.

OVERTIME: The game goes into overtime to break a tie. In pro ball, the first team to score into overtime wins. This is known as the “sudden death” system.

PASSING GAME: The offensive strategy dealing with throwing the ball and receiving forward passes.

PASS PATTERN: The specific route run by a receiver to catch a pass.

PASS RUSH: The rush by the defense to try and tackle the quarterback before he can complete a pass.

PENALTY: Punishment for a foul. Can consist of losing a down or even the ball, but usually sets back the penalized team five to fifteen yards.

PIGSKIN: Old term for a football.

PILING ON: Several players jumping on the player with the ball after he’s been tackled. Also called dogpiling.Piling on is illegal, with a 15 yard penalty.

PLACE-KICK: A kick made while the ball is held in place on the ground (either with a tee or by another player).

PLAY: In general, the actions of the players following a snap or kickoff. More specifically, the type of action taken as part of a planned manuever. There are two basic types of plays: running plays, where the offense tries to run with the ball toward the opposition’s goal line, and passing plays, where the object is to pass the ball forward towards the opposing goal line. A play can have minor variations each time, but will usually fit into some general categories. For instance, in a sweep, the guards pull from their positions to block for the ball carrier as he moves left or right, then up the field. In a draw play, the quarterback takes the ball from the center and moves back rapidly, acting as though he’s going to throw it. When the defensive linemen get close, the quarterback then hands off the ball to a running back who hopes to quickly dart past the defensive linemen, who are still being “drawn off” by the quarterback. In an Action Pass, the opposite occurs, and the quarterback pretends to hand-off to another player only to retain the ball.

PLAY ACTION: A passing play set up to draw the Defensive Linebackers towards the Line Of Scrimmage with a Run Fake.

PLAYBOOK: A notebook containing a team’s terms, strategies, plays, etc., issued to each player.

PLAYER TO PLAYER DEFENSE: See man-to-man defense.

PLAYMAKER: One skilled in helping their team score with winning strategy.

POCKET: The area the quarterback sets up his pass from. Guarded against the opposition to hopefully form a safe “pocket”.

POINT AFTER TOUCHDOWN: After scoring a touchdown, a team may score an extra point for a successful place kick through the opposition’s goal post.

POINT SPREAD: The projected difference in scores between two teams about to play.

POOCH KICK: See “Squib Kick”

POST-SEASON: The time when a tournament is played leading up to the Super Bowl. Also called the playoffs.

POST PATTERN: A pass pattern where the receiver runs 10-15 yards downfield before turning towards the middle of the field, but at a 45 degree angle (in the direction of the goal post).

POWER SWEEP: See sweep under play.

PRE-SEASON: The time during which teams play exhibition games and check out new talent, from August through Labor Day, when the regular season starts.

PRIMARY: The receiver who was chosen by the quarterback in the huddle to receive the ball.

PULLING: Leaving one’s position to move elsewhere to block.

PUMP FAKE: :When the Quarterback draws hi s arm back and fakes a forward pass to draw the Free Safety to an area or cause a Defensive Back to pause in his coverage of a Wide Receiver.

PUNT: When the ball is dropped from the kicker’s hands and kicked before hitting the ground.

PUNT RETURN: The runback of the ball after it’s been punted.

QUARTER: A football game is divided into four quarters, 15 minutes each (12 minutes in high school football).

QUARTERBACK: An member of the offense. The quarterback takes the snap from the center, then either passes, hands off, or runs with the ball. The name derives from the fact that in an I formation the Quarterlback is half as far back as the Halfback, or a quarter the way back. See Fullback and Halfback to further clarify.

QUARTERBACK SNEAK: An play wherein the quarterback receives the ball after the snap and immediately runs forward through the opposition, with his own team blocking for him.

QUICK COUNT: When the quarterback calls the signals at the line of scrimmage very rapidly so as to throw off the other team.

QUICK KICK: A surprise punt.

READY LIST: A list of several plays ready to be used in an upcoming game (tailored to an opposing team’s srengths and weaknesses).

RECEIVER: A receiver, or pass receiver, is a member of the offense whose job it is to get into the open to catch a pass from the quarterback and then run with the ball. Additionally, in professional football, the end on the left is referred to as a ‘wide’ receiver.

RECOVER: Grabbing a ball that has been fumbled (whether the recovering player’s side initially had the ball or not).

RED DOG: See blitz.

REGULAR SEASON: A time period of 17 weeks during which a team plays 16 games to determine their ranking going into the Post-Season tournament.

RETURNER: A player who runs back kickoffs and punts.

REVERSE: An offensive play In a reverse, the player with the ball runs in one direction, then hands off the ball to another player going the opposite direction, reversing the ball’s direction of travel.

ROLL: The quarterback rolls when he moves left or right with the ball before throwing it.

ROSTER: A list of the members of a team.

ROUGHING: A personal foul with a 15 yard penalty. Called when a player illegally contacts another player, as in roughing the punter, when a player tackles the punter without touching the ball, or roughing the passer, where a defensive player attempts to tackle the quarterback after the ball has been thrown.

RUNBACK: Returning a kickoff, punt, or interception.

RUNNING BACK: Positioned behind the quarterback, there are two running backs, whose job it is to run with the ball, which is typically handed off by the quarterback. Part of the offensive backfield. In college and high school football, there are halfbacks and fullbacks in these positions, but in professional football they are simply the two running backs.

RUSH: To run from the scrimmage line with the ball.

SACK: Tackling the quarterback before he can throw a pass.

SAFETY: When a team forces the opposition to down the ball in their own end zone, they receive two points, called a safety. Also, the player position called safety is a defensive backfield position, the deepest in the backfield. There are two safeties, see Strong Safety and Free Safety.

SAFETY BLITZ: A charge by one or both safeties in an attempt to tackle the quarterback.

SAFETY VALVE: A short pass thrown to a running back when the wide receivers are covered.

SCRAMBLE: When a quarterback runs behind the line of scrimmage lose tacklers.

SCRAMBLER: A quarterbackwhose gotten a reputation for scrambling.

SCREEN PASS: A pass from behind the line of scrimmage, after a deep drop by the Quarterback. It’s a play that allows the rushers to charge through as the offensive linemen fake block them, only to set up a wall for a receiver, or runningback to catch the pass and run behind.

SCRIMMAGE: The action between two teams, starting when the ball is snapped.

SECONDARY: The defensive backfield, or second line of defense.

SHIFT: The movement of two (or more) offensive players between positions.

SIGNAL CALLER: The quarterback.

SIGNALS: The quarterback tells the other players, with signals, what the next play will be. Signals are also used at the line of scrimmage to tell the center when to snap the ball.

SLANT: Running, with the ball, at an angle.

SLOT: A gap in the offensive line between a receiver and a tackle.

SNAP: The handing of the ball by the center, reaching back between his legs, to the quarterback or punter.

SPEARING: Contacting another player with one’s head; a foul in college football.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A special group, or “platoon”, of players specializing in one particular maneuver, such as punts or kick-offs. When the maneuver is about to be done, the coach willsubstitute the special team. Special teams give their all to their specialties and consequently suffer higher injury rates than the rest of the team. That’s why they are also called bomb squads or suicide squads.

SPIRAL: The football’s rotation when it’s thrown (about it’s longitudinal axis).

SPLIT END: A receiver who lines up several yards away from the next player along the line of scrimmage.

SQUARE IN/OUT: A pass route where the runner goes downfield then turns “in” at a “square” or right angle to the center of the field, or “out” to the sideline.

SQUIB KICK: (Pooch Kick) A low flat kickoff that is difficult to handle. It is often used when the receiving team has an effective kick returner or when the kicking team does not have a long ball kicker.

STRAIGHT ARM: (Stiif Arm) To defend against player trying to tackle you by using your hand and arm to jab with t a straight stiff arm at the opponents head or chest area to avoid a tackle.

STRONG SAFETY: A defensive backfield position, the deepest in the backfield. The Strong Safety is the Safety on the strong side (Tight End side) of the Offense and generally must be a solid tackler. Also, see Free Safety.

STRONG SIDE: In an unbalanced line, the side with the most players.

STUNT: An unusual charge by the offensive linemen, sometimes in concert with the linebackers, in which they loop around each other during the charge instead of charging straight ahead.

SUICIDE SQUAD: See special teams.

SUBSTITUTION: Putting a player into the game as a substitute for another. For example, a play requiring a very fast player may cause the coach to bring out one player and replace him with another, faster player. There is quite a bit of substituting in football, especially with special teams.

SUPER BOWL: The National Football League’s championship game.

SWEEP: See play.

TACKLE: To bring down another player, i.e., to sack the quarterback is to tackle him. Also an offensive position. There are two tackles, one outside each guard, whose job is to block the onrushing defensive line and open up holes for a runner.

TAILBACK: A member of the offensive backfield, whose job is to run with the ball. Also called a running back or halfback.

T-FORMATION: See formation.

THREE-POINT STANCE: The position players at the line of scrimmage take before the snap, leaning forward on one hand with their feet spread.

TIGHT END: See end.

TIME: In professional and college football, the game is limited to 60 minutes (48 minutes in high school football). This is divided into two 30 minute halves, each of which is divided into two 15 minute quarters, or “periods.” In between the two halves is halftime, which lasts 15 minutes. If the teams are tied at the end of the time limit, the game goes into overtime, continuing until one of the teams pulls ahead.

TOUCHBACK: A touchback occurs when the defensive team gains possession of the ball in their own end zone on the same play in which the offensive team caused the ball to cross the goal line.

TOUCHDOWN: Carrying the ball into, or catching the ball in, the opposition’s end zone. Worth six points.

TRAP BLOCK: When a player is allowed through the enemy line only to be blocked by surprise from another player behind the line. Also called a mousetrap.

TURN IN/OUT: A pass route where the player runs downfield then turns in toward the middle of the field or out towards the sidelines.

TURN OVER: Losing possession of the ball, typically by error.

UNBALANCED LINE: A formation with more players on one side of the center than the other.

UPRIGHTS: Vertical posts supporting the crossbar in the goalpost.

VINCE LOMBARDI TROPHY: Awarded to the winners of the Super Bowl in honor of the great coach Vince Lombardi.


WEAK SIDE: The side of an unbalanced line with the least players.

WIDEOUT: See Flanker or Split End. Some coaches call their fastest deep threat Wide Receiver a Wideout other coaches use the term to define the furthest Wide Receiver from the ball being snapped.

WIDE RECEIVER: See receiver.to top

YARDAGE: The amount of yards gained (or lost) during a play. to top

ZONE DEFENSE: A defense strategy where each player has an area, or “zone”, of the field to defend. See also man-to-man defense.

Find the previous part of the glossary here: /football-betting-glossary-a-h/