List of Football Skills
Football is a multifaceted sport that requires its players to have a variety of skills. Each player has specific skills relevant to their position on the field. For example, one player's job may be to catch passes while another player's job may be to kick the football. It is highly improbable for an athlete to possess all the skills necessary to play every position at a high level. This is why each team has eleven players on the field all performing a specific task.
Types of Football Skills
- Offensive Skills
- Defensive Skills
- Special Teams Skills
Being able to pass the football effectively is crucial to the success of every team. Passing the football is the job of the quarterback, who must possess skills such as power and accuracy when throwing the ball. Because the passing game is key to having an effective offense, the quarterback position is the most important role in all of football. The quarterback must not only have the physical ability to pass the ball efficiently, but also the mental capacity to determine where and when the ball should be thrown.
Somebody has to catch those passes thrown by the quarterback, right? This task falls on wide receivers, tight ends, and occasionally running backs. Having quality pass catchers is nearly as important as having a good quarterback. The bulk of pass catching is done by wide receivers, who specialize in securing the football when it's in the air. Receivers must possess outstanding hand-eye coordination to be able to catch the football. They should also have the strength and speed to outmaneuver defenders trying to prevent them from catching the ball.
When offenses are not passing the ball, they are running the ball. Although every player on the field is required to run to some extent, it is especially important for running backs to possess this skill. The running back's job is to help move their offense down the field by carrying the football. As such, running backs must possess speed, agility, elusiveness, strength, and power to avoid being tackled by defenders. It is also important for running backs to be able to hang on to the football while they are running.
Often the most overlooked aspect of football, blocking is crucial to the success of the offense. Blocking allows the quarterback to pass the ball, the receivers to catch the ball, and the running back to run the ball. Offensive linemen perform the majority of blocking, but tight ends, running backs, and receivers may also be involved. Linemen must have the strength and power to physically block defenders from tackling the player with possession of the football. Without quality linemen, it is difficult for an offense to have success moving the ball down the field.
Reading the Defense
Quality quarterbacks have the ability to recognize plays called by the defense and adjust their offensive strategy accordingly. Quarterbacks are considered captains of the offense and should have an idea of how the defense is trying to attack them. Good quarterbacks can read the defense at the line of scrimmage and call audibles based on what play the defense is running. For instance, an offense might intend to run the ball on a particular play, but the quarterback recognizes that the defense is planning to perform a run blitz. So the quarterback changes the play at the line of scrimmage and signals to his teammates that they are going to pass the ball instead. When it comes to reading the defense, quarterbacks must possess this mental skill to boost their offense's chance of success.
Since passing the ball is the most important skill to possess on the offensive side of the ball, being able to rush the passer is the most important skill on the defensive side of the ball. Pass rushers must have the strength and quickness to overpower offensive linemen and sack the quarterback. Being able to disrupt the passing game of an offense by pressuring the quarterback is essential to the success of the defense. Pass rushing is primarily performed by defensive linemen, but linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties may also be involved in putting pressure on the quarterback.
If the defense cannot sack the quarterback and prevent the ball from being thrown, the next best thing is to be able to prevent the ball from being caught by the receiver. Cornerbacks and safeties are largely responsible for defending passes thrown by the quarterback. It is essential for these defensive players to have the speed to shadow receivers and the hand-eye coordination to locate the thrown football and prevent it from being caught.
Defensive players are not only required to defend the pass, but stop the run as well. Defensive linemen and linebackers must have the strength, size, and speed to crowd the line of scrimmage and eliminate space for running backs to utilize. If the defense has the ability to neutralize the running game, they force the offense to become one dimensional by relying heavily on the passing game. In turn, the defense has a greater chance of success because they only have to focus on defending the pass at this point.
Although different defensive positions require different skills, every player on the defensive side of the ball must be able to tackle. Tackling is a basic element of football and is required to prevent offensive players from advancing the ball down the field. It is important for defensive players to know how to tackle correctly without being penalized. Tackles that involve helmet to helmet contact or hands to the facemask of the offensive player are considered illegal.
Special Teams Skills
Kicking is a specialized skill usually possessed by a single member of the team. The kicker's job is to kick the football through the field goal uprights and score points for their team. In order to do so, kickers must have leg power and accuracy. Along with being able to kick field goals and extra points, kickers must also be able to send the ball downfield to the opposing team on kickoffs. This requires a tremendous amount of leg strength.
Similar to kickers, punters rely on leg power and accuracy to perform their job effectively. It is the punter's responsibility to punt the ball to the opposing team when possession of the ball is changing teams. The punter's objective is to kick the ball as far downfield as they can without putting the ball in the endzone. A good punter creates favorable field position for his team's defense.
Kick and Punt Returning
Returners have the opportunity to gain yardage for their offense when fielding kicks and punts from the opposing team. Like running backs and receivers, kick returners must possess speed and elusiveness to avoid being tackled. Special teams is often an overlooked facet of the game, but having a quality kick returner can be a big advantage for teams.
Covering Punts and Kickoffs
Players on the kicking team must sprint down the field and attempt to tackle the kick returner to prevent him from scoring a touchdown or getting a long return. This job requires speed to close in on the returner and strength to outmuscle blockers on the returning team. Players must also have the discipline to stay in their lane and cover their designated portion of the field. If players stray outside of their lane, kick returners can take advantage of this and find holes to gain additional yardage.