Football Lingo

Football – Football lingo – jargon – NFL – Football wagers

These football terms will be used throughout the sportsbook to describe plays, positions, and other parts of the game. Read over them now to get used to things you’ll hear around the football field, or come back to this list later to look up new words.

Our Football Jargon and Lingo Guide for newcomers to the sport.


Backfield: The area behind the line of scrimmage.
Backpedal: Backward running to drop into pass coverage.
Blitz: A pass rush involving defensive backs or linebackers.
Block: An offensive player moves a defensive player away from the ball.
Bootleg: A play where the quarterback fakes a handoff and runs around the tight end.
Bump and Run: A pass defense in which the defender bumps the receiver at the line of scrimmage.
C Center: The middle offensive lineman that snaps the ball to the quarterback.
Cornerback: One of two defensive backs positioned on the outside corners of the defense.
D Defense: The team without the ball. The defense tries to get the ball back and stop the offense from scoring.
Defensive: backs The cornerbacks and safeties behind the linebackers.
Defensive ends: The two players at the end of the defensive line.
Down: A play from scrimmage. The offense gets four downs numbered in sequence, first to fourth, to gain 10 yards and make a new first down.
E Eligible: receiver Any of the five offensive players who are allowed to receive a pass.
End zone: The area, 10 yards deep, bounded by the end line, goal line, and both sidelines. A team scores points by moving the ball into their opponent’s end zone for a touchdown.
Extra point: The one- or two-point play allowed a team after scoring a touchdown. Most youth teams go for two points.
F Fair catch: An unhindered catch by the receiver of a punt or kickoff. The returner raises one arm high over his head to signal a fair catch.
Forward pass: A ball thrown, usually with an overarm motion, in the direction of the offense’s goal line.
Four-point stance: A stance with both hands on the ground, often used by defensive linemen. Fumble Loss of possession of the football by the ball carrier or passer.
G Goal line: The field stripe separating the end zone and the field of play that must be crossed to score a touchdown.
Guards: The two offensive linemen on either side of the center.
H Half: There are two halves to a game.
Halftime: The intermission between the first and second halves of a game. Teams rest and discuss strategy during halftime.
Handoff: A play in which the ball is given to another player, usually from a quarterback to a running back.
Hashmarks: The short lines used to spot the ball on the field.
Holding: The penalty called for illegal grabbing or use of hands.
Hole: A space in the offensive line opened by blockers for a ball carrier to run through.
Huddle: A brief gathering for play and signal calling by the offense and defense between plays.
I I-formation: A backfield formation featuring two running backs in line directly behind the quarterback.
Interception: A change of possession when a defensive player catches a pass intended for an offensive player.
L Lateral: A toss or pass backward from the direction of play.
Linebacker: A defender who plays between the defensive linemen and the defensive backs.
Line of scrimmage: The imaginary line running from sideline to sideline on which the ball is snapped. It moves up and down the field with the ball.
M Man-for-man: A pass defense where each defender covers one receiver.
N Nose tackle: The defensive tackle in a 3-4 alignment who lines up opposite the center.
O Offense: The team that has the ball and is trying to score.
P Pass rush A play in which defenders try to sack the passer.
Penalty: A call made by the game official when a player breaks a rule. A penalty may result in a loss of yardage or a down.
Play-action: pass A play in which the quarterback fakes a running play, then passes.
Pocket: The area of protection around a passer formed by his blockers.
Possession: When a team has the ball.
Punt: A type of kick used primarily on fourth down.
Q Quarter: There are four quarters in a game, two in each half.
Quarterback The player who leads the offense, calls plays, hands off the ball, runs with the ball, or passes it.
R Rollout: When the quarterback leaves the pocket, following blockers, to throw a pass.
Running backs: The players who are the main ball carriers.
S Sack: When the quarterback is tackled in the backfield while attempting to pass.
Set: When an offensive player gets into his stance.
Sidelines: The lines running the length of the field, from end line to end line, marking the outside boundaries of the field and end zones. The sideline is out of bounds.
Snap: When the center passes the ball to the quarterback to start a play.
Snap count: The signal on which the ball is snapped.
T Three-point stance: A stance used by offensive and defensive linemen and running backs in which one hand is touching the ground.
Tight end: A receiver/blocker position outside the offensive tackle.
Time out: When a team or an official stops action and the clock.
Touchdown: A six-point scoring play that occurs when one team crosses the other team’s goal line with the ball in its possession.
W Wide receiver: A pass receiver who is set outside the offensive tackle.