Popular Football Running Plays


Authored by Rodney Southern in American Football 
Published on 11-28-2009

In the game of football, learning to run the ball is an absolute must. The running game is most often used to set up the passing game, and one can not do well without the other. You must have a solid running game for a number of reasons other than that though. You must run well to run out the clock if you are up, for example. Regardless of the reasons, here are some popular football running plays that you can execute at any level of coaching:

The basic dive play is popular for one reason and one reason alone – it works. The dive has been around since the days of Vince Lombardi and beyond, and will be here long after we all are gone. The play is simplistic in nature, and can be executed all the way down to Pee Wee League.

To execute the dive play, you line up your team in the I-formation. That is with one tight end, a fullback and a tailback. The tailback lines up behind the fullback. When the ball is snapped, the guard and tackle will block the defensive tackle and/or noseguards and the fullback will block the linebacker that will fill the hole. The tailback will take the ball and run directly behind the fullback and cut off of his block. Once in the secondary, the tailback will get however many yards he can. This is the bread and butter play of many teams all the way up to the pro ranks.

Another popular football running play is the sweep. This is when the quarterback pivots around and tosses the ball to the tailback as they run towards the outside. This play has big potential but can also be a disaster if it is not blocked well.

One of the most popular running plays these days is the draw. The draw is when the quarterback drops back as if to pass, and then quickly hands off the ball to a stationary running back. He can then usually slip past linemen that are rushing to sack the quarterback, and make a nice gain.

Another running play is the reverse. This is a bit more complicated, but is fairly easy to do if you have an athletic wideout or slot receiver. Simply throw a sweep in one direction and have your linemen pull in that direction, and then bring your slot receiver the opposite way to take the handoff. If the defense follows the running back initially, this can turn into a huge play. It used to be considered a trick play, but now is rather commonplace with most teams.

Another powerful running play is called the option. This play requires a good running quarterback that can also make good decisions. Your quarterback will take the snap, and run straight down the line towards the defensive end. If the end goes to tackle him, he will pitch the ball out to the tail back that will be shadowing him in the backfield. This will give the tailback plenty of chance to get around the end, and usually break a long play. If the end goes to the tailback, then the quarterback will turn upfield and gain yardage. Either way the option is a powerful tool.


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