Understanding the basics of American football starts with learning the different positions on a team. The football abbreviations for many of these positions are used more often than their actual names.
Whether you play youth football or in the NFL (National Football League), the positions on a football team are the same. There can only be 11 players from one team on the field during plays.
The offensive line, or “OL,” and other players on the field for your team when you start a set of downs with the ball, are collectively called the offense. This is sometimes abbreviated as “O.”
- C: Center; “Snaps” the ball to the quarterback
- RB: Running Back; Can run the ball, make a catch, block, or even throw the ball
- FB: Fullback; Lead blocker, one of two running back positions
- HB: Halfback; Runs the ball or blocks, the other running back position
- OG: Offensive Guard; Blocks for QB, RB, or FB
- OT: Offensive Tackle; Blocks for QB, RB, or FB
- LG: Left Guard; Blocks for QB, RB, or FB; Sets up to the left of C
- LT: Left Tackle; Blocks for QB, RB, or FB; Sets up to the left of LG
- RG: Right Guard; Blocks for QB, RB, or FB; Sets up to the right of C
- RT: Right Tackle; Blocks for QB, RB, or FB; Sets up to the right of RG
- TE: Tight End; Blocks or catches passes
- QB: Quarterback; Calls the plays and initiates ball action
- WR: Wide Receiver; Catches passes
The defensive line, or “DL,” and other players on the field for your team when you don’t have the ball at the start of a play are collectively called the defense. This is often abbreviated as the “D.”
- CB: Cornerback; Try to stop passes, intercept passes, or tackle player who catches the ball; Usually sets up wide in the formation
- DE: Defensive End; Get past OL, tackle QB, or tackle ball carriers; Sets up at either end of the DL
- DT: Defensive Tackle; Get past OL, tackle QB, or tackle ball carriers; Sets up in the middle of the DL
- LB: Linebacker; Tackle ball carrier; Sets up between DL and FS/SS
- ILB: Inside Linebacker; Tackle ball carrier; Aligns toward inner portion of formation
- MLB: Middle Linebacker; Tackle ball carrier; Aligns in center of formation
- NT: Nose Tackle; Hold off as many OL players as possible; Sets up in the center of the DL
- OLB: Outside Linebacker; Tackle ball carrier; Aligns toward outer portion of formation
- S: Safety; Stop TEs, RBs, and WRs; Sets up in the back of the formation
- FS: Free Safety; Stop TEs, RBs, and WRs; Tends to play further from the DL than FS, aligned with the offense’s TE
- SS: Strong Safety; Stop TEs, RBs, and WRs; Tends to play closer to the DL than FS
During punts, field goals, and kickoffs, a group of specialty players take the field. This is called your special teams.
- K: Kicker; Kicks field goals (FG) and extra points (XP)
- KR: Kick Returner; Receives kicks from the opposing team’s kicker
- LS: Long Snapper; Takes position of C for long snaps, as in the case of field goals and punts
- P: Punter; Punts the ball to the opposing team
- PR: Punt Returner; Returns punts from the opposing team’s punter
Just like in American football, there are 11 players on the field during a soccer match. Many of them work in positions where they try to stop the other team from scoring.
- CB: Center-back; Stop other team from getting near GK
- GK: Goal Keeper; Stops ball from going in goal
- LB: Left Full-Back; Block other team and hold a line
- LWB: Left Wing-Back; Play near sidelines and block other team
- RB: Right Full-Back; Block other team and hold a line
- RWB: Right Wing-Back; Play near sidelines and block other team
- SW: Sweeper; Stands between GK and everyone else as last line of defense
Midfielders need to be good at both offense and defense because they typically play toward the middle of the field and near their opponent’s goal.
- AM: Attacking Midfielder; Focuses on shooting and scoring
- CM: Center Midfielder; Links defense and offense of a team
- DM: Defensive Midfielder; Organize attacking plays
- LW: Left Winger; Plays along sideline to shoot, assist, and score
- RW: Right Winger; Plays along sideline to shoot, assist, and score
Forwards are the players who play closer to their opponent’s goal and try to score goals.
- CF: Center Forward; Link offense and defense of a team
- S: Striker; Focuses on scoring
Commonly used abbreviations, like those used in football, help people communicate more quickly and efficiently. If you’re looking for football position acronyms, you won’t find any. The main difference between abbreviations and acronyms is that acronyms spell out a new word, while abbreviations don’t. Run with that!