What is play action in Football?

Today we’re going to take a closer look at one of the most important tactics in the game – Football play action. (If you are interested in betting, then you should learn more about Orbit Exchange or Betting Exchange.)

Football play action is a tricky strategy that is used to make the other team’s defense confused and go in the wrong direction. In this drama, the quarterback pretends to hand over the ball and then moves backward to throw, while the running back or fullback pretends to hold the ball.

This strategy works really well because it makes the defense unsure and doubtful if the ball is really in play or not. This hesitation can make opportunities for the offense to take advantage of and can result in large gains on the field.

What is Football play action and how it works?

While the play action may seem simple, it requires precise timing and execution from the quarterback, running back, and offensive line. It’s a high-risk, high-reward tactic that can swing the momentum of a game in a matter of seconds. Below we will learn about everything that is related to Football play action.

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Play Action Pass

At its core, play action is a type of pass play that involves a fake handoff to a running back. The quarterback pretends to hand the ball off to the running back and then drops back to pass the ball instead. This can be done in a variety of ways, including the bootleg and waggle play actions.

Quarterback Fake Handoff

The quarterback’s fake handoff is a critical part of the play. It needs to be convincing enough to draw the defense in and create a moment of hesitation. This hesitation is what gives the offense the chance to complete the pass and make a big play.

Deceptive Football Tactics

Play action is just one of the many deceptive tactics used in football. It can be used to draw defenders out of position, create confusion, and open up the field for the offense. Other tactics include misdirection runs, fake punts, and trick plays.

Running Back Misdirection

The running back’s role in play action is to sell the fake handoff. They need to make it look like they have the ball and be convincing enough to draw in the defense. This misdirection can create a gap in the defense that the quarterback can exploit.

Offensive Line Protection

The offensive line plays a crucial role in play action. They need to protect the quarterback long enough for the play to develop and give the receivers time to get open. If the offensive line breaks down, the play can quickly fall apart.

Bootleg Play Action

The bootleg is a type of Football play action that involves the quarterback faking a handoff and then rolling out to one side of the field. This can be an effective play because it gives the quarterback more time to find an open receiver and can create a mismatch with a slower defensive player.

Waggle Play Action

The waggle is similar to the bootleg, but instead of rolling out, the quarterback takes a few steps in one direction before faking the handoff and throwing the ball. This play can be effective because it can create confusion among the defense and give the quarterback a clearer view of the field.

Run-Pass Option (RPO)

The run-pass option is a type of play that combines a run play with a pass play. The quarterback has the option to either hand the ball off to the running back or throw a pass to a receiver. This can be an effective play because it keeps the defense guessing and can create openings for big gains.

Defensive Strategy Against Play Action

Image source: Wikipedia

The defense’s strategy against play action is to stay disciplined and not get fooled by the fake handoff. They need to maintain their assignments and not over-commit to the run or the pass. By staying disciplined, the defense can limit the effectiveness of the play action.

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Big Plays in Football

Big plays are a crucial part of football. They can swing the momentum of a game and create excitement for the fans. Play action can be a particularly effective way to create big plays, as it can catch the defense off guard and create openings for the offense.

Momentum Swings in Football

Momentum swings are another important part of football. They can happen in an instant and can completely change the course of a game. Play action can be a great way to create momentum swings, as a big play can energize the offense and deflate the defense.

Play Action Highlights

Some of the most exciting moments in football come from play action. Play action highlights, whether they are perfectly executed bootlegs or deep passes down the field, can be some of the most exciting moments in the game. These highlights can create lasting memories for fans and players alike.

Best Play Action Quarterbacks

Some quarterbacks are better at play action than others. The best play action quarterbacks are those who can sell the fake handoff, read the defense, and make accurate throws down the field. Quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady are all known for their effective use of play action.

Play Action Stats

While play action can be a highly effective play, it’s important to look at the stats to see how it’s working for a particular team or quarterback. Factors like completion percentage, yards per attempt, and touchdown-to-interception ratio can all give insight into the effectiveness of play action.

Play Action Effectiveness

The effectiveness of play action can vary depending on the situation. It’s important to consider factors like the strength of the defense, the skill of the quarterback, and the type of play action being used. In general, however, play action can be an effective way to create big plays and keep the defense off balance.

NFL Play Action

Play action is a common play in the NFL, used by teams across the league. The Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers effectively use play action. The offense can use this play in a variety of situations and it can create big gains.

College Football Play Action

College football teams also use play action as a way to create big plays and keep the defense off balance. Some college teams, like the Oklahoma Sooners and Alabama Crimson Tide, are known for their effective use of play action.

High School Football Play Action

Play action is also used at the high school level, where it can be a highly effective play if executed properly. High school teams can use play action to create big gains and momentum swings in a game.

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History of Football Play Action 

Image source: ESPN

Over time, football teams have devised new tactics and techniques to gain an advantage over their rivals. The game has been evolving continuously. People have been employing the play action tactic for more than a century.


The history of play action in football began when the game added the forward pass in the early 1900s. In the early days, QBs frequently faked handoffs to confuse defenses and open up lanes for the offense. This early style of play action often caught defenses off guard because they were not yet accustomed to the forward pass. It was basic but efficient.

Play action in football changed along with the game’s evolution. During the 1920s and 1930s, play action evolved into a more intricate and calculated theatrical piece. In an effort to trick the opponent, coaches started to create increasingly complex play action plans that included deception and misdirection. Quarterbacks with a reputation for using play action well, like Sid Luckman and Sammy Baugh, rose to prominence during this time.

Football Play action saw much more innovation in the 1940s and 1950s.

During the time of the T-formation offence, the centre snapped the ball to the quarterback, who had a fullback positioned directly behind him. This formation allowed for more intricate play action schemes because the quarterback searched downfield for open receivers while the fullback sold a fake handoff.

During the 1960s and 1970s, play action kept developing. The West Coast offense, which prioritized play action and short, fast passes, was popular during this time. During this time period, quarterbacks like Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, and Joe Namath were well-known for their skillful play action usage.

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In the 1980s and 1990s, play action became even more important as teams began to use it as a way to counteract the rise of the 3-4 defense. The 3-4 defense is a defensive scheme that features three down linemen and four linebackers. This defense is designed to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback, but play action can be used to counteract this pressure by keeping the defense off balance.

Today, play action remains a critical part of the game. Modern quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes are all known for their effective use of play action. Coaches continue to develop new and innovative play action schemes to keep the defense guessing and create big plays down the field.

One of the key factors in the evolution of play action has been the development of technology. As film and video analysis became more prevalent, coaches were able to study and dissect plays in greater detail. This allowed them to develop more sophisticated play action schemes that involved misdirection and deception.

Another factor in the evolution of play action has been the changing nature of the game itself. As the game has become more pass-oriented, play action has become an even more important tool for offenses. Quarterbacks and coaches are constantly looking for ways to use play action to create big plays and keep the defense off balance.

Football Play Action Tutorials

Play action is a critical part of modern football strategy, and coaches and players who can effectively execute it can gain a significant advantage over their opponents. For those looking to improve their use of Football play action, there are a variety of tutorials and instructional resources available. These resources can provide valuable insights and techniques for quarterbacks, running backs, offensive linemen, and coaches.

For coaches, there are a variety of play action tutorials available that can provide valuable insights into effective play calling and strategy. Many of these resources focus on topics like designing effective Football play action schemes, identifying weaknesses in the defense, and developing game plans that can exploit those weaknesses. Coaches who can effectively incorporate play action into their offensive strategy can gain a significant advantage over their opponents and create more opportunities for big plays.

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One popular Football play action technique is the “run-pass option” (RPO). The play involves the quarterback faking a handoff. Then, they decide to throw a pass or keep the ball and run. The technique is effective for confusion and offense openings. It requires precise timing and decision-making by the quarterback. Play action tutorials often focus on the RPO. They offer insights and techniques for coaches and quarterbacks. These can help incorporate the play into offensive strategy.

Defensive strategy against play action is also an important topic for coaches and players to understand. Defenses can use a variety of tactics to counter play action, such as blitzing the quarterback, dropping linebackers into coverage, and playing man-to-man defense. Understanding these defensive strategies is critical for quarterbacks and coaches looking to effectively incorporate play action into their offensive strategy.


What is play action in football?

Play action is a type of offensive play in football where the quarterback fakes a handoff to a running back before throwing the ball downfield. This play is for deceiving the defense and creating openings for the offense.

How does Football play action work?

The play starts with a fake handoff to the running back, which can draw defenders toward the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, the quarterback drops back and looks downfield for open receivers. If the fake is successful, the defense may be out of position, allowing the quarterback to make a big play.

What are some common play action techniques?

There are a variety of Football play action techniques, including bootleg plays, waggle plays, and run-pass options (RPOs). Each technique has its own strengths and weaknesses. Then there are coaches and players who need to choose the right one for their team and situation.

Who are some of the best Football play action quarterbacks?

There are many great Football play action quarterbacks in football history, including Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Joe Montana. These quarterbacks were known for their ability to sell the fake handoff and make big plays downfield.

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