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Glossary of Football 101 terms

Published: Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014 7:00 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 11:41 a.m. CST
(Kyle Grillot -
Richmond-Burton head coach Pat Elder talks with junior Joey Horner during a practice on Thursday, July 17, 2014 in Richmond.

What on Earth is the B-Gap? What's a veer? How about the difference between a two- and three-point stance? Our glossary of football terms is here to help.


Check down (or audible): when a quarterback changes the play at the line of scrimmage 

Pitch: when a quarterback laterals the ball to a running back or fullback downfield

Handoff: when a quarterback turns and hands the ball to his running back or fullback in the backfield

Zone-read: when a quarterback reads the defensive end and decides whether to hand off to a running back or keep it

Pocket: area where the quarterback will drop back and throw from

Scramble: when a quarterback takes off running on a broken play

Running backs:

High and tight: The correct way to carry a football, it’s to better protect the football, it’s a big part of running backs, they can’t turn the ball over.

Shoulder turn: A way to protect our kids and the football. When a guy comes to tackle a player, you quickly turn your shoulder and make yourself small, so you avoid taking a guy head on and having contact with them.

Quick feet: The ability to make moves in traffic or avoid other unwanted situations

Get low: Always attempting to get lower than the defender tying to tackle you.

Hands inside: When blocking, for safety reasons and to potentially avoid holding-style penalties, big with running backs since they tend to be smaller than those they may be blocking.

A-Gap: The hole between the center and the guard

B-Gap: The hole between the guard and the tackle

C-Gap: The hole between the tackle and the tight end

D-Gap: Running pattern outside of everyone on the line

Wide receivers:

End around: Typically an outside run for either the X or Z receiver. Usually involves misdirection and the receiver taking the handoff from the quarterback in the backfield. 

Reverse: Much like the end around, only an additional hand-off is required. Often goes from quarterback to running back to either the X or Z receiver.

Seam: A route often run while defense is in a zone. Receiver will progress straight upfield and shuffle into an unoccupied zone awaiting the throw.

Bubble Screen: Screen pass in which receiver will initially move backwards and towards the sideline. After a few steps, the receiver will turn upfield awaiting the ball at around the line of scrimmage.

Hot route: A change of the originally called route. Can be signaled by the quarterback or receiver.

Speed cut: Used when defense is giving the receiver a cushion. Instead of a hard plant cut, the receiver will round the turn, meaning he will get the ball sooner.

Crack block or crack back block: Blocking method used on sweeps and pitches. Receiver will leave the defensive back defending him and move in to block linebacker or defensive end who doesn't see him.

Offensive linemen:

Drive: Used in any one-on-one blocking situation

Reach: Lineman attacks the outside shoulder of the defender

Zone: Two or more linemen block an area rather than a specific defender

Scoop: A block made on the backside of a play

Veer: Inside lineman releases block at first level and moves up to block another defender at the second level

Combo: Two blockers block one defender with hopes of moving up to second level linebackers

Types of line stances

Two-point: Lineman’s fingers are not touching the ground, knees bent with hands extended out in front (Used in most passing situations)

Three-point: Lineman is bent down at the waist and places three fingers from their stronger hand on the ground

Four-point: Both hands of the lineman are down while the lineman is crouched over, balancing their weight evenly (Used primarily by run-heavy teams)

Defensive linemen:

3-point stance: A stance that allows the lineman to be a little lighter on their feet. One hand touches the ground while the other is cocked back by the hip. The position allows a faster burst off the line for most players.

4-point stance: Similar to a 3-point stance, a player in a four-point stance will be used for an accelerated burst off the line of scrimmage. The difference between a 3-point stance and a 4-point stance is that in a

4-point stance, the player will have both hands touching the ground before takeoff.

Gaps: Certain parts of the line of scrimmage will be designated as a gap with letters assigned to that side. For example, the A Gap is between the center while the B Gap focuses on the two guards.

Sack: When a quarterback gets taken down behind the line of scrimmage, the tackle is counted as a sack.

Techniques: Ranging from one through nine, certain numbers are assigned to defensive lineman to indicate where the defensive lineman should align himself on the line of scrimmage.


Quick hips: usually refers to pass defense and the ability to change direction without losing momentum

Pass drop: the movement by a linebacker back into his zone once he sees that the quarterback has dropped back to pass

Read step: the six-inch step forward taken by an LB when the ball is snapped before reacting to the offense

Stem: a shift made by the linebackers and defensive line prior to the snap

Stunt: a move in which two defensive players switch roles in order to confuse blockers and slip into the backfield

Two-point stance: a linebacker's position with two feet on the ground, as opposed to a three-point stance with two feet and one hand

Defensive backs:

Jam: hitting a receiver at the line of scrimmage to disrupt timing

Re-route: similar to a "jam," used to throw a receiver off his desired pattern

Sink technique:  shuffle back quickly where you are ready to come up quickly, usually in cover 2 when you have help deep

Read steps: slower backpedal as you decipher if it’s a run or a pass

Inside release: funneling receivers to the middle of the field, usually in Cover 2

Outside release: forcing receivers to the edge of the field, usually in man coverage

Jump a route: anticipate pass pattern and step in front of WR to make play

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