We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. The LA Times newsroom or editorial staff was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more

7 Offensive Positions in Football Explained

7 Offensive Positions in Football Explained

One of the most difficult things for a football fan just getting into the sport is understanding the different offensive and defensive positions. For those new to the game, it might be difficult to make sense of all the players on the field. We've summed up the offensive positions in football to help you out. This covers common tactics used by teams to gain a competitive edge.

Quarterback

The quarterback is the "leader" and most essential player on the offensive side. In the huddle, he conveys the play call to his teammates and is in charge of distributing the football or, in certain circumstances, running the ball himself. He often stands behind the center or, in a shotgun formation, stands several yards behind the center. Play begins when the football is snapped, and the quarterback can pass, run, or hand off the ball. When the quarterback approaches the line and sees a defensive scheme that doesn't fit the designed play well, he can call an audible. He can change the play and alert his teammates of the new play to run by using hand signals or shouting it out.

Running Backs

The running back is positioned in front of or to the side of the quarterback at the snap. They are in charge of receiving a handoff and gaining yards by sprinting upfield. Other duties include catching thrown balls and defending to protect the quarterback. Running backs come in several different forms. A tailback (sometimes known as a halfback) is a lighter, faster running back. A fullback is bigger and stronger than a running back. He does more lead blocking for the halfback, and for the quarterback, he does more blitz protection. The defense is forced to cover more of the football field due to better play calls and quicker running backs. The width of a football field can exhaust defensive players, making even simple moves more difficult.

Wide Receivers

Wide receivers are the football team's pass-catching specialists. If you want to be a reciever, you'll need the best football gloves. They run routes downfield in the hopes of receiving the ball. They can also serve as extra blocks during run plays and screens. A wide receiver who positions up on the field of contact but to the sideline is called a split end. A flanker is a receiver who sets up off the line. A slot receiver is a specialist receiver who plays between the wideout and the offensive line. Over the center of the field, slot receivers generally run inside routes and shorter patterns.

Tight end

The tight end, like the wide receiver, is a pass-catching position on the offensive line. Tight ends are often large, powerful athletes who can play offensive line but have gentle enough hands to receive the ball. Tight ends may either stay on the line and block for running and passing plays or run a route like a receiver.

Offensive Line

Five key players make up the offensive line: the center, two guards, and two tackles. The offensive line must line up behind the line of scrimmage and adopt a fixed position before the ball is in the air (one hand on the ground). An offsides penalty can be called if a player shifts even slightly after fixing his position. After the ball is snapped, offensive linemen are not permitted to touch it unless it is mishandled or deflected in the air.

Center

The center passes off the ball to the quarterback or punter to begin each play. The center is positioned between the two guards in the offensive line. On each play, the center's two main responsibilities are to correctly snap the ball to the quarterback and to block. Calling out blocked assignments to the rest of the offensive line, releasing the ball, and preventing defenders are the center's tasks.

Guards

The primary job of the offensive guard is to block for the play that is called in the huddle. A pulling guard will occasionally leave his position to take the lead in blocking for a play.

The Bottom Line

No matter if you are just stepping into the football realm or have been doing it for quite a long time, it is critical to know about all the offensive positions. Whether you're a fan or a player, we hope this guide helps level up your game.

bestcovery team.jpg
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
Related Content
Go to top