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Football Plays

What is a play in football? What are the types of plays? Get ready to learn about the types of plays in football with this plays list.


What is a Play in Football?

A play in football is the strategy chosen by football coaches in either offense or defense to advance and score a touchdown, or prevent that from happening. Before the snap, both teams listen to the coach's instructions on which play to execute. After that, offense and defense both organize themselves on the field accordingly. A play starts once the snap is made, and both defense and offense will look to execute the chosen play. Some plays can get very complicated and hard to understand, while others are very simple and straightforward.

The playcalling varies according to a team's characteristics. If a team has a quarterback with a weak arm, it is likely that the coach will call many rushing plays or short pass plays, while team's with very good defensive linemen will call defensive plays to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. There are different types of play, which you can check on the sections below.

Football Passing Plays

Passing plays are done by the offense. In offensive play calling, the offensive coordinator and the head coach will communicate with the quarterback, and he will pass on the instructions to the rest of the team. The quarterback can also call a different play if he reads that the previously set play will not be effective against the defensive play the opponent has planned.

A passing play includes a quarterback throwing the ball and a receiver receiving the ball. In passing plays, it is necessary that the receivers know which routes they are supposed to be running, and for the quarterback to know in which moment each receiver will be free. A team that has a strong passing game must have a great quarterback but also a great offensive line that will protect the quarterback long enough for him to read the field and execute the play without any pressure.

PRO TIP: It is important for both the quarterback and the receiver to thoroughly know the "route tree."

Some of the most popular passing plays are:

Football Running Plays

An offense can't be solemnly based on passing plays. That way, it is necessary that a team has a wide variety of running plays in their playbook. Similar to passing plays, the quarterback will be the one to call the play, as instructed by the coaches. A running play starts with the snap to the quarterback, who will then hand off the ball to the running back. A running play will vary depending on the route the running back will be running, the behavior of the offensive line, and even the quarterback's movement.

Some of the most popular running plays are:

  • The dive
  • Off tackle run
  • Slant run
  • The pitch
  • Trap run

Football Defensive Plays

Defensive plays are a team's strategy to stop the offense from advancing with the ball. Good, versatile players that can execute many different defensive plays and properly read the offense's movement, is what makes a great defensive team. Defensive plays are called depending on the opponent's positioning, previous behavior, passing and running game, and positioning on the field. Defensive settings are also set based on the other team's weaknesses. For example, if the offense does not have a really effective offensive line, the defense will look to rush the quarterback a lot.

Some popular defensive plays are:

There are also some defensive settings such as:

Football Kicking Plays

Kicking situations in football are usually pretty simple. If the team needs to kick a field goal, they will put a kicker on the field, who will attempt to kick the ball in between the goal posts; the same for PAT's. In punts, the punter will give the ball back to the opponent as far back as possible. However, at times teams can pull a trick out of the hat and execute a kick related trick play. That is, they may make the opponent believe they are kicking a field goal, attempting an extra point conversion, or punting the ball, and do something different, like running or having a player passing the ball, regardless if he is a quarterback or not.

Some of the most popular kicking plays are:

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