28 Football Terms To Make You Sound Like A Pro 

American football helmet; red and blue

Hut, hut, hike!

If you know at least a little about American football, you probably know what the words run, pass, and touchdown mean. But if you’re getting sacked by terms like blitzpick sixmuff, and squib kick, call an audible and huddle up with our glossary of football words that’ll kick your pigskin knowledge right through the uprights.

🏈If you already feel like you could score big on these terms, then try our quiz and see!

line of scrimmage

The line of scrimmage is the imaginary invisible line that extends from an unsnapped ball to the two sides of the field. Neither team is allowed to cross this line until the ball is snapped and play begins.


In football, to fumble the ball means to lose hold of it after having grabbed or carried it. The other team is allowed to pick up the loose ball, which is a turnover.


A muff is when a player touches the ball without successfully holding it. For example, a punt returner may bobble the ball and let it hit the ground without ever actually managing to grab it. Like a fumble, the other team is allowed to recover a muffed ball to cause a turnover.


The huddle is the ring of offensive or defensive players that gather in between plays to decide what they are going to do when the next play starts.


A blitz is a high-risk play in which the defense sends more players than normal to try to tackle the ball carrier. A player who is assigned to do this is called a blitzer, and they are said to be blitzing.


A quarterback is sacked if they are tackled behind the line of scrimmage while still in possession of the ball. An instance of this is called a sack.


A scramble is when a quarterback runs the ball on what was supposed to be a passing play. A scramble is usually a desperation move by a quarterback who is trying to avoid being sacked.

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special teams

Special teams refers to the players who are on the field during kicking plays. Some players, such as kickers and punters, only play on special teams.


The word safety has two meanings in football. A safety is a scoring play in which an offensive player is tackled in their own end zone, which awards the defending team two points. Safety is also the name of a defensive positional player who is usually lined up the furthest back from the line of scrimmage.


Cornerback is a defensive position that is usually positioned in the middle of the defense between the linebackers and safeties. Typically, cornerbacks either play man coverage or they watch a specific area (zone) of the field. Cornerbacks often have to make decisions on the fly depending on what happens during a play.

tight end

The tight end is an offensive position that acts as a blend of a lineman and a wide receiver. Tight ends are usually physically larger players who can block defensive rushers, but are also legally able to catch passes.


The O-line, short for offensive line, are the five players who line up in front of the quarterback and are assigned the job of protecting them from tacklers. According to the rules, the O-line are typically only allowed to block defenders and cannot run the ball or catch passes.


The pocket is the physical space that the quarterback has to move while attempting to throw the ball. After a play begins, the offensive linemen often move backward to form a horseshoe-like shape around the quarterback while they protect them. The linemen are trying to prevent a defensive player from getting into this area and tackling the quarterback.

squib kick

A squib kick is a short, low kick that usually bounces along the ground before being caught. A squib kick is kicked short so that the kicking team has the numbers advantage and can easily tackle whoever picks up the ball.

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coffin corner kick

A coffin corner kick is a punt in which the punter tries to kick the ball out of bounds at the corner of the field next to the end zone. The goal of this kick is to try to ensure the opposing team has to move nearly the entire length of the field to score a touchdown.

ice the kicker

If a coach ices the kicker, it means that they call a timeout before the kicker is able to kick a field goal. The thought process behind this move is that the kicker has to think longer about the kick and may be more likely to make a mistake when they eventually have to kick the ball.


A touchback happens when either a punt/kick travels behind the end zone with no chance to be caught or a kick-receiving player voluntarily kneels down in their own end zone immediately after catching a kicked ball. In either case, the ball will be placed on the 20-yard line before the next play begins.

pick six

A pick six is a scoring play in which a defending player intercepts a pass and returns it for a touchdown.

Hail Mary

A Hail Mary or Hail Mary pass is a desperate pass in which a quarterback hurls the ball many yards down the field and hopes one of his receivers jumps up to catch it.


An audible is when the offense or defense decides their play at the line of scrimmage rather than in the huddle. Audibles are used to quickly change a previously decided play call.


A lateral or lateral pass is a maneuver in which a player tosses the ball to another player that is either parallel to them or behind them. Unlike a forward pass, a lateral can legally be performed by any player, including defensive players and players returning kicks.

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red zone

The red zone is the area between the end zone and the 20-yard line.

man coverage

Man coverage refers to pass coverage in which a defensive player is assigned to a specific offensive player. The defending player’s main job is to prevent that specific offensive player from successively catching the ball or making a big play.

flea flicker

A flea flicker is an unusual offensive play that occurs in three stages. First, the quarterback hands the ball off to a running back. Second, the running back laterals the ball backwards to the quarterback. Finally, the quarterback passes the ball to a receiver. A flea flicker is a risky trick play designed to try to confuse the defense.


PAT stands for “point after touchdown” and a PAT is also known as “an extra point.”  After scoring a touchdown, a team is allowed to either try for one or two extra points. To score a single extra point, the PAT, the team’s kicker must successfully make a kick.

two-point conversion

The two-point conversion refers to the two-point attempt a team is allowed to make after scoring a touchdown. To get the two extra points, the offense must successfully reach the end zone in a single play starting a short distance from the end zone.


The shotgun formation is an offensive formation where the quarterback is positioned a distance away from the center rather than right behind them. The shotgun formation is often used in passing plays because the quarterback is positioned further away from the defense and will have more time to pass the ball once the play starts.


The wildcat formation is an unusual offensive formation in which the ball is snapped to another offensive player besides the quarterback. Wildcat plays can often result in very unusual situations, such as a quarterback catching a touchdown pass.

Take the quiz

If you’re looking to train your vocab muscles even more, review our word list on these football terms, where you can use flashcards and more to build up verbal strength. When you’re ready for some competition, head over to our short but challenging quiz to put your knowledge to the test.

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