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Fan's Guide to Football, Page 5 of 5: Football Glossary

football player1- History & Object of the Game
2- The Essentials (Offense & Defense, Scoring, etc.)
3- Fouls
4- Field Diagram & Positions
5- Glossary of Football Terms


Audible: Quarterback calls a different play at the line of scrimmage when the defense appears to anticipate the current play.

Blitz: To rush linebackers, cornerbacks, or safeties into the backfield.

Down: One of the four opportunties the offensive team has to score or advance 10 yards.

False start: Penalty for illegal movement by offense prior to the snap.

First down: Term used when a new set of downs is achieved. The “line-to-gain” is the line that must be reached for a first down and is marked on the sidelines by the first down marker (colored stick and chain).

Forward pass: Occurs from from behind the line of scrimmage and is thrown farther up the field than the thrower.

Fumble: A “live” ball that is dropped can be recovered by either team.

Holding: Penalty for holding a player to impede progress.

Huddle: Inbetween plays, members of a team gather in a circle to receive instructions for the upcoming play.

Incomplete pass: A forward pass that is not caught.

Interception: A pass that is caught by the defense.

Lateral: A ball thrown to the side or backward. A lateral that is not caught is a fumble, not an incomplete pass.

Line of scrimmage: The yard line at which a down begins.

Offsides: Penalty for team members not on their own side of the line of scrimmage during a snap.

Onside kick: When the kicking team tries to field its own kickoff after the ball travels 10 yards.

Pass interference: Penalty for illegal contact on a pass play.

Play action pass: When a quarterback fakes a handoff for a running play before passing the ball. Used to deceive the defense.

Punt: Kick to the opponent on a fourth down when scoring or achieving a first down is unlikely.

Rush: Attempt to sack the quarterback or force the pass attempt earlier than desired.

Sack: To tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of yards.

Snap: Transfer of the ball from center to quarterback that starts each play. Also called a “hike.”

Tackle: Forcing a ball carrier to the ground.

Touchback: Balls recovered in team’s own end zone during kickoffs, punts, and turnovers can be “downed” and the team then starts the first down at the 20-yard line.


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