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In arena football, a specialist was a player, other than a quarterback or placekicker, who was exempt from the league's one-platoon system ("Iron Man"). Under the original Arena football system, six of the eight players on each team were required to play both offense and defense.
Arena football is a variety of indoor gridiron football played by the Arena Football League (AFL) and China Arena Football League (CAFL). The game is played indoors on a smaller field than American or Canadian outdoor football, resulting in a faster and higher-scoring game. The sport was invented in 1981, and patented in 1987, by Jim Foster, a former executive of the National Football League and the United States Football League. The name is trademarked by Gridiron Enterprises and had a proprietary format until its patent expired in 2007. Due to the patent, other indoor American football leagues that launched following the popularity of the original AFL developed variants on the arena rules.
A quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line. In modern American football, the quarterback is usually considered the leader of the offensive team, and is often responsible for calling the play in the huddle. The quarterback also touches the ball on almost every offensive play, and is the offensive player that almost always throws forward passes.
Placekicker, or simply kicker, is the player in American and Canadian football who is responsible for the kicking duties of field goals and extra points. In many cases, the placekicker also serves as the team's kickoff specialist or punter as well.
One of the two offensive positions was required to be a quarterback or, in the event of a kick, a placekicker. The other was known as an offensive specialist (OS). Offensive specialists usually played wide receiver, either as a flanker or a slotback. The defense was allowed two defensive specialists (DS), who almost universally played in the secondary. Players were referred to as "specialists" instead of their more traditional positional designations (example, a player would be called a defensive specialist, and be designated as "DS" on a position chart, instead of a cornerback or CB).
A wide receiver, also referred to as wideouts or simply receivers, is an offensive position in American and Canadian football, and is a key player. They get their name because they are split out "wide", farthest away from the rest of the team. Wide receivers are among the fastest players on the field. The wide receiver functions as the pass-catching specialist.
Slotback, sometimes referred to as an A-back or, especially in the United States, slot receiver, is a position in gridiron football. The "slot" is the area between the last offensive lineman on either side of the center and the wide receiver on that side. A player who lines up between those two players and behind the line of scrimmage is a slotback. The position is a fixture of Canadian football and indoor football, but is also used in American football. The slotback is similar to the wide receiver but also has many of the same traits as a running back or tight end; a slotback lines up closer to the offensive line and often farther back than a wide receiver.
In American football and Canadian football, defensive backs (DBs) are the players on the defensive team who take positions somewhat back from the line of scrimmage; they are distinguished from the defensive line players and linebackers, who take positions directly behind or close to the line of scrimmage.
Specialists were usually required to participate on special teams, a requirement that was not extended to quarterbacks.
The specialist designation was eliminated after both the Arena Football League and af2 abandoned the one-platoon system prior to the 2007 season. Most other indoor football leagues have used free substitution since their inception.
The Arena Football League (AFL) is a professional indoor American football league in the United States. It was founded in 1987 by Jim Foster, making it the third longest-running professional football league in North America, after the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the National Football League (NFL). The AFL plays a proprietary code known as arena football, a form of indoor American football played on a 66-by-28 yard field, with rules encouraging offensive performance, resulting in a faster-paced and higher-scoring game. The sport was invented in the early 1980s and patented by Foster, a former executive of the United States Football League (USFL) and the NFL.
The AF2 was the Arena Football League's developmental league; it was founded in 1999 and played its first season in 2000. Like its parent AFL, the AF2 played using the same arena football rules and style of play. League seasons ran from April through July with the postseason and ArenaCup championship in August. The AF2 continued to operate while the AFL suspended operations for its 2009 season. The league was effectively disbanded in September 2009 when no team committed to playing in 2010, but several of the stronger franchises transferred into the reconstituted AFL.
Indoor American football is a variation of American football played at ice hockey-sized indoor arenas. While varying in details from league to league, the rules of indoor football are designed to allow for play in a smaller arena. It is a distinct discipline and not be confused with traditional American football played in large domed stadiums, as is done by some teams at the college and professional levels.
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A running back (RB) is an American and Canadian football position, a member of the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block. There are usually one or two running backs on the field for a given play, depending on the offensive formation. A running back may be a halfback, a wingback or a fullback. A running back will sometimes be called a "feature back" if he is the team's starting running back.
In gridiron football, a lineman is a player who specializes in play at the line of scrimmage. The linemen of the team currently in possession of the ball are the offensive line, while linemen on the opposing team are the defensive line. A number of NFL rules specifically address restrictions and requirements for the offensive line, whose job is to help protect the quarterback from getting sacked for a loss, or worse, fumbling. The defensive line is covered by the same rules that apply to all defensive players. Linemen are usually the largest players on the field in both height and weight, since their positions usually require less running and more strength than skill positions.
A cornerback (CB), also referred to as a corner or defensive halfback in older parlance, is a member of the defensive backfield or secondary in American and Canadian football. Cornerbacks cover receivers most of the time, to defend against offensive plays, i.e create turnovers in best case or deflect a forward pass or rather make a tackle. Other members of the defensive backfield include the safeties and occasionally linebackers. The cornerback position requires speed, agility, and strength. A cornerback's skillset typically requires proficiency in anticipating the quarterback, backpedaling, executing single and zone coverage, disrupting pass routes, block shedding, and tackling. Cornerbacks are among the fastest players on the field.
A linebacker is a playing position in American football and Canadian football. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage, behind the defensive linemen, and therefore "back up the line". Linebackers generally align themselves before the ball is snapped by standing upright in a "two-point stance".
The tight end (TE) is a position in American football, arena football, and formerly Canadian football, on the offense. The tight end is often seen as a hybrid position with the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a wide receiver. Like offensive linemen, they are usually lined up on the offensive line and are large enough to be effective blockers. On the other hand, unlike offensive linemen, they are eligible receivers adept enough to warrant a defense's attention when running pass patterns.
In sports, a utility player is one who can play several positions competently. Sports in which the term is often used include football, baseball, rugby union, rugby league, water polo, and softball.
Strategy forms a major part of the game of American football, and both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the apparent strengths and weaknesses of the other team, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent to score more points in order to win the game.
American football positions have slowly evolved over the history of the sport. From its origins in early rugby football to the modern game, the names and roles of various positions have changed greatly, some positions no longer exist, and others have been created to fill new roles.
A punter (P) in American or Canadian football is a special teams player who receives the snapped ball directly from the line of scrimmage and then punts (kicks) the football to the opposing team so as to limit any field position advantage. This generally happens on a fourth down in American football and a third down in Canadian football. Punters may also occasionally take part in fake punts in those same situations, when they throw or run the football instead of punting.
A formation in football refers to the position players line up in before the start of a down. There are both offensive and defensive formations and there are many formations in both categories. Sometimes, formations are referred to as packages.
In sports, a starting lineup is an official list of the set of players who will participate in the event when the game begins. The players in the starting lineup are commonly referred to as starters, whereas the others are substitutes or bench players.
In American football and Canadian football, the holder is the player who receives the snap from the long snapper during field goal or extra point attempts made by the placekicker. The holder is set on one knee eight yards behind the line-of-scrimmage. Before the play begins he places the hand which is closest to the place kicker on the ground in a location designated by the kickers foot, with his forward hand ready to receive the snap. After receiving the snap, the holder will place the football on the turf, or block, ideally with the laces facing the uprights and the ball accurately placed where the back hand was initially, then balancing the ball with one or two fingers until the ball is kicked.
In American football each team has 11 players on the field at one time. The specific role that a player takes on the field is called their position. Under the modern rules of American football, teams are allowed unlimited substitutions; that is, teams may change any number of players after any play. This has resulted in the development of three "platoons" of players: the offense, the defense, and the special teams. Within those platoons, various specific positions exist depending on what each player's main job is.
Tackle is a playing position in American and Canadian football. Historically, in the one-platoon system prevalent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a tackle played on both offense and defense. In the modern system of specialized units, offensive tackle and defensive tackle are separate positions, and the stand-alone term "tackle" refers to the offensive tackle position only. The offensive tackle is a position on the offensive line, left and right. Like other offensive linemen, their job is to block: to physically keep defenders away from the offensive player who has the football and enable him to advance the football and eventually score a touchdown. The term "tackle" is a vestige of an earlier era of football in which the same players played both offense and defense.
Uniform numbers in American football are unusual compared to those in other sports. They are displayed in more locations on the uniform; they are universally worn on both the front and back of the jersey; and in many cases "TV numbers" are displayed on either the jersey sleeves, the shoulder pad, or occasionally on the helmets. The numbers on the front and back of the jersey also are very large, covering most of the jersey. More important, certain numbers may only be worn by players playing specific positions; thus, the jersey numbers assist the officials in determining possible rules infractions by players.
A kickoff specialist (KOS) is a seldom-used position in gridiron football. Kickoff specialists are members of the special teams. They are responsible for kicking the ball in the kickoff. These players tend to have a strong leg, often capable of making touchbacks, and capable of keeping a ball in the bounds of the field of play but do not have the accuracy or technique required to be a full-time placekicker or punter. Some kickoff specialists later become full-time placekickers, while some are marginal placekickers who are soon out of football.
The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.
The one-platoon system, also known as iron man football, is a platoon system in American football where players play on both offense and defense. It was the result of smaller roster sizes in the early days of the game and rules that limited player substitutions, rules that are also standard procedure in many other sports but were eliminated in the 1940s as free substitution was legalized. The alternative system is known as the "two-platoon system", or simply the "platoon system", because of its use of separate offensive and defensive units.