Running back

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The position of the running backs in the I formation, full back in front, half back in back
Air Force running back.

The running back (RB) is a playing position in the offense in American football . Two different types of running back are the fullback and the halfback . The halfback was often referred to as the tailback in the past .

The running back is the player primarily responsible for the running game . In contrast to the quarterback , who mainly tries to push his team forward with passes, the running back takes the ball in his hand and tries to find a way through the opposing defense . After the snap of the Centers for quarterback this passes the ball to the running back, who is the offense in the starting position of the rear-most standing players. Now the running back must first try to get past the defensive line . His offensive line (center, guards, tackles and tight end (s)), which should clear his way, helps him . Then the running back has to avoid the linebackers and safeties . If he can do that and he makes it into the open field, then he'll run into the end zone to score a touchdown . In addition to the running game, running backs are occasionally used as pass recipients.

A good running back is characterized by its speed, body size is not decisive. Smaller players are usually more agile, they can dodge faster and are more difficult to tackle by the opponent due to the smaller attack surface . Big running backs, on the other hand, have the advantage that they can often get a few extra yards at the end of a run due to their mass by throwing themselves powerfully forward into the opposing defense. Also, tall, heavy players tend to be harder to bring down than lighter players. One speaks of a good run attempt when it brings about four yards of space gain. With four yards per attempt, the running back doesn't need more than the three available attempts to reach a new first down . Runs that bring 20 or more yards of space gain can also be observed regularly. In a very good game, the running back gets the ball on average between 20 and 30 times and runs over 100 yards.

The worst thing for a running back is a fumble . He loses the ball before at least one of his knees or one of his elbows has touched the ground. The team that picks up the ball then has the right to attack at this point. The running back is rarely allowed to throw a pass. With such trick plays you try to lure your opponent on the wrong track. However, such a forward pass may only be made behind the line of scrimmage , just like a quarterback.

Runningbacks are usually divided into halfbacks and fullbacks. The halfback is typically more agile and manoeuvrable, the heavier, more powerful fullback can also be used as a pre-blocker. The so-called “third down backs” represent a special case, which are used when a passing rather than running play is recommended in the third down (e.g. if the distance to the new first down is four or more yards): These running backs are specialized in catching the opponent's pass rush against the quarterback and catching a throw to the new first down in the dense crowd.


American football. The official rules. Things worth knowing from A - Z, Falken-Verlag 2000, ISBN 3-8068-1673-5 .