It’s a Trap. . . Counter, and Power Play

Sometimes, straightforward run plays like the dive and the sweep do not work. This is because of different reasons, ranging from players ability to defensive schemes. But not to fear, the run game can still be successful by using a different type of blocking scheme using pulling lineman. I’ll explain three of the basic pull plays everyone should know.


The counter play is used to deceive the defense and have the offensive linemen  placed in a better position to execute blocks successfully. The running back takes steps opposite of the play before getting the ball. The running back will takes steps in the direction of the play to receive the handoff, following the pulling blockers. A true counter usually involves the back side guard and tackle both pulling to lead block for the ball carrier. One pulling lineman or using a fullback to perform the lead block are counter play alternatives.

**When the running back takes a counter path, but there are no pulling blockers, this play is called Misdirection, not a counter.



The offense uses the power play to out-leverage the defense. The running back takes a path similar to the dive. Once the running back has gotten the ball their path adjusts to where the running lane is being created by the lineman. The power play normally includes a fullback who is responsible for blocking the play side defensive end. The fullback performs a kick out block against the defensive end to create a running lane. The play side guard and tackle double team the closest defensive lineman, trying to move him laterally and down the field. The center will block the first back side defensive lineman, while the back side guard pulls to lead block for the running back on the play side. The guard leads through the lane created by the double team and kick out block. The back side tackle blocks the nearest defensive lineman. The purpose of this play is to force the defense into a position of weakness, where the offense can use its strength to impose its will on the defense. A tightend can be used to replace the fullback, or an off-set fullback could be used to replace the pulling guard.


As the name suggests, it’s a trap! This is a very quick and deceptive run play. The play design is to leave a defensive lineman unblocked temporarily to block a linebacker more quickly. The running back takes a normal dive path which is where the running lane will be created. The play side guard bypasses the closest defensive lineman to block the middle or play side linebacker. The back side guard pulls play side and performs a kick out block against that unblocked defensive lineman. The running back runs behind the kick out block, then reads the defense to determine where to run the ball. The center and tackles each block the nearest defensive lineman.

**The trapped defensive player can be changed, according to strategy and personnel.

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