What are the Different Positions of American Football?

Running Back

American football is a dynamic and complex sport, known for its physicality, strategic depth, and the diverse roles played by each team member. Understanding the different positions in American football is crucial for anyone looking to grasp the nuances of the game. This article delves into the various positions, their responsibilities, and how they contribute to the team’s success.

Offensive Positions

Quarterback (QB)

Tom_Brady_Quarter Back

Tom_Brady_Quarter Back

The quarterback is often considered the leader of the offense. This position requires a deep understanding of the game, quick decision-making skills, and the ability to throw precise passes. The quarterback’s primary role is to execute the play, whether it’s passing the ball to a receiver, handing it off to a running back, or running the ball themselves.

Running Back (RB)

Running Back

Running Back

Running backs are versatile players who run with the ball, catch passes, and block for the quarterback. They are categorized into different types, such as:

Halfback (HB): Primarily responsible for running the ball.

Fullback (FB): Often used as a blocker but can also run the ball in short-yardage situations.

Wide Receiver (WR)

Wide Receiver

Wide Receiver

Wide receivers are crucial for advancing the ball down the field through the air. They need to have excellent speed, agility, and catching ability. Their primary role is to catch passes from the quarterback, aided through the use of football gloves but they can also be involved in blocking schemes.

Tight End (TE)

Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce

The tight end is a hybrid position that combines the responsibilities of both offensive linemen and wide receivers. They need to be strong enough to block effectively and agile enough to run routes and catch passes. They often wear a mid football cleat, which helps with the bigger players and offers more ankle support.

Offensive Linemen (OL)

Offensive Lineman

Offensive Lineman

The offensive line consists of five players who block for the quarterback and running backs. They are divided into:

Center (C): Snaps the ball to the quarterback and blocks defensive players.

Guards (G): Positioned on either side of the center, they block for both running and passing plays.

Tackles (T): Positioned on the outer sides of the offensive line, they protect the quarterback from edge rushers and block for running plays.

Defensive Positions

Defensive Linemen (DL)



The defensive line’s primary role is to stop the run and pressure the quarterback. This group includes:

Defensive Tackle (DT): Positioned in the middle of the defensive line, they stop running plays up the middle and rush the quarterback.

Defensive End (DE): Positioned on the edges of the defensive line, they rush the quarterback and contain outside running plays.

Linebackers (LB)

Linebackers are versatile players who play behind the defensive line. They need to be able to stop the run, cover receivers, and rush the quarterback. They are typically divided into:

Middle Linebacker (MLB): Often considered the leader of the defense, they make calls and adjustments.

Outside Linebacker (OLB): Focus on stopping the run and covering tight ends and running backs.

Defensive Backs (DB)

Defensive Backs Making A Play

Defensive Backs Making A Play

Defensive backs are responsible for covering receivers and preventing passing plays. This group includes:

Cornerbacks (CB): Cover wide receivers and defend against passing plays.

Safeties (S): Positioned deeper in the field, they provide additional coverage and support against the run. They are divided into:

Free Safety (FS): Focuses on pass coverage.

Strong Safety (SS): Provides run support and covers tight ends and running backs.

Special Teams Positions

Kicker (K)



The kicker’s primary responsibility is to kick field goals and extra points. They also handle kickoffs.

Punter (P)



Punters kick the ball to the opposing team to change field position. This is typically done on fourth down when the offense has not gained enough yards for a first down.

Long Snapper (LS)



The long snapper is a specialized center who snaps the ball directly to the punter or holder during field goals and punts.

Holder (H)



The holder catches the snap from the long snapper and places it for the kicker to attempt a field goal or extra point.

Return Specialists (RS)

Return specialists are responsible for catching kickoffs and punts and attempting to return them for as many yards as possible. They require excellent speed, vision, and agility.


Understanding the different positions in American football provides a deeper appreciation of the game’s complexity and strategy. Each position requires unique skills and attributes, contributing to the team’s overall performance. Whether you’re a player, coach, or fan, knowing these roles can enhance your enjoyment and understanding of this thrilling sport.


What are the basic positions in American football?

The basic positions include quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs.

How many players are on the field for each team in American football?

Each team has eleven players on the field at a time.

What position does the quarterback play?

The quarterback is the leader of the offense, responsible for passing, handing off, or running the ball.

What is the role of a linebacker in American football?

Linebackers are versatile defensive players who stop the run, cover receivers, and rush the quarterback.

Who kicks field goals in American football?

The kicker is responsible for kicking field goals and extra points.

If you want a deeper understanding you can see more here,

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