A stunt in American football and Canadian football, sometimes called a twist, is a planned maneuver by a pair of players of the defensive team by which they exchange roles to better slip past blockers of the offensive team at the beginning of a play, in order to better rush the passer.
The purpose of a stunt is to confuse opposing blockers, which is an aid to the defense in rushing an opposing forward pass or kick. The main weakness of a stunt is that it is more vulnerable than average to running plays by the opposing team. In most cases, the defense will not use a play incorporating stunting if it expects a running play from the offense.
There are two main types of stunts. In one, a line player, who would otherwise try to charge forward, instead drops back, and a nearby linebacker or defensive back charges forward instead. In the other, which is known as cross-rushing, line players, instead of charging straight ahead, cross paths. One of them may follow a looping path that goes behind the other before moving forward (in which case the stunt is called a "loop"), or one may wait for the other to penetrate slightly first, and then cross behind, their paths angling across each other. In some variants, a rushing player will run around more than one rushing teammate.
Because of the exchange of roles, a stunt is sometimes called a "trade"; blockers of the offensive team may engage in similar "trades". The defensive players involved are said to be stunting or trading, or sometimes to "have a game on".
The name "stunt" presumably derives from its more general meaning of a showy trick. The term has been used in a football context since at least the 1960s. However, the maneuver itself dates back to the 19th century. Walter Camp wrote of role exchanges between a line player and a "line-half" (then the nomenclature for what is now called a linebacker; presumably a cross between lineman and halfback, or a halfback playing behind the line; cf. "scrum-half" in rugby) in efforts to block a kick from scrimmage, forward passes not yet having been legal.
A running back (RB) is a member of the offensive backfield in gridiron football. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback to rush the ball, to line up as a receiver to catch the ball, and 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.
Linebacker (LB) is a playing position in gridiron football. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage and the defensive linemen. They are the "middle ground" of defenders, playing closer to the line of scrimmage than the defensive backs (secondary), but farther back than the defensive linemen.
A screen pass is a play in gridiron football consisting of a short pass to a receiver who is protected by a screen of blockers. During a screen pass, a number of things happen concurrently in order to fool the defense into thinking a long pass is being thrown, when in fact the pass is merely a short one, just beyond the defensive linemen. Screens are usually deployed against aggressive defenses that rush the passer. Because screens invite the defense to rush the quarterback, they are designed to leave fewer defensemen behind the rushers to stop the play.
In gridiron football, blitzing is a tactic used by the defense to disrupt pass attempts by the offense. During a blitz, a higher than usual number of defensive players will rush the opposing quarterback, in an attempt either to tackle him or force him to hurry his pass attempt.
Strategy forms a major part of American football. 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 other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent 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 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.
Center or Centre (C) is a position in gridiron football. The center is the innermost lineman of the offensive line on a football team's offense. The center is also the player who passes the ball between his legs to the quarterback at the start of each play.
A trick play, also known as a gadget play, gimmick play or trickeration, is a play in gridiron football that uses deception and unorthodox tactics to fool the opposing team. A trick play is often risky, offering the potential for a large gain or a touchdown if it is successful, but with the chance of a significant loss of yards or a turnover if not. Trick plays are rarely used not only because of the riskiness, but also to maintain the element of surprise for when they are used.
A halfback (HB) is an offensive position in American football, whose duties involve lining up in the offensive backfield and carrying the ball on most rushing plays, i.e. a running back. When the principal ball carrier lines up deep in the backfield, and especially when that player is placed behind another player, as in the I formation, that player is instead referred to as a tailback.
In American football, the specific role that a player takes on the field is referred to as their "position". Under the modern rules of American football, both teams are allowed 11 players on the field at one time and have "unlimited free substitutions", meaning that they may change any number of players during any "dead ball" situation. This has resulted in the development of three task-specific "platoons" of players within any single team: the offense, the defense, and the so-called 'special teams'. Within these three separate "platoons", various positions exist depending on the jobs that the players are doing.
The triple option is an American football play used to offer several ways to move the football forward on the field of play. The triple option is based on the option run, but uses three players who might run with the ball instead of the two used in a standard option run.
In American football, a play is a close-to-the-ground plan of action or strategy used to move the ball down the field. A play begins at either the snap from the center or at kickoff. Most commonly, plays occur at the snap during a down. These plays range from basic to very intricate. Football players keep a record of these plays in a playbook.
On defense in American football, a pass rush is charging across the line of scrimmage towards the quarterback in an effort to stop or "sack" them. The purpose is tackling, hurrying or flushing the quarterback out of their protective pocket or the play's design.
A fullback (FB) is a position in the offensive backfield in gridiron football, and is one of the two running back positions along with the halfback. Fullbacks are typically larger than halfbacks and in most offensive schemes the fullback's duties are split among power running, pass catching, and blocking for both the quarterback and the other running back.
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.
A play calling system in American football is the specific language and methods used to call offensive plays.