End around

What is the Definition of End Around in American Football?

The end-around play in American football is a strategic maneuver that involves the quarterback handing the ball off directly to a wide receiver or end who crosses behind the line of scrimmage. This play focuses on creating opportunities for significant yardage gains by exploiting weaknesses in the defensive setup. As a versatile trick play, the end-around can lead to big outcomes, including touchdowns, when executed effectively.

In an end-around play, the wide receiver or end is positioned near the line of scrimmage and moves horizontally toward the opposite end of the line just after the snap. The quarterback hands the ball off to the receiver who can either run with it towards the line of scrimmage or pass the ball in rare cases. This play can be further enhanced through variations like the jet sweep, which involves the wide receiver going in motion before the snap, receiving the ball from the quarterback while on the run.

Key Takeaways

  • End-around is a strategic football play involving a handoff from the quarterback to a wide receiver or end
  • The play aims to exploit defensive weaknesses and can result in significant gains or touchdowns
  • Jet sweep is a variation of the end-around that adds pre-snap motion for additional deception

End Around: Definition

An end around in American Football is a play where an end or a wide receiver crosses the backfield towards the opposite end of the line and receives a handoff directly from the quarterback. This play is usually executed by the offense to misdirect the defense and create an open running lane for the wide receiver or end who possesses the ball. The end around is considered a trick play, occasionally used to surprise the opposition and potentially lead to substantial gains on the field, including touchdowns.

In this maneuver, the wide receiver or end runs behind the line of scrimmage and takes a handoff from the quarterback. The intended goal of the end around is for the ball carrier to outrun the defensive players and circumnavigate the opposite flank of the offense. Proper execution of the end around requires precise timing between the quarterback and the wide receiver or end taking the handoff.

Coaches may call for an end around play to exploit a vulnerability in the opposing defense, particularly if a defensive player is slow to react or struggles to adjust to a player crossing the backfield. This play can also be utilized as a deceptive tactic, diverting attention away from the main ball carrier or even opening up the field for a possible pass play.

It is important to note that the success of an end around play largely relies on the skills of the ball carrier and the team’s ability to create sufficient running space. Additionally, the element of surprise is critical when running the end around, as defenses can quickly adapt to the play if it is consistently executed throughout the game.

Key Elements of an End Around

The Motion

In an end-around play in American football, the end or wide receiver goes into motion, crossing the backfield toward the opposite end of the line before the snap. This movement is intended to create confusion and misdirection for the defensive team by having the wide receiver move across the formation.

The Handoff

After the motion, the quarterback hands off the ball directly to the wide receiver. The receiver may then carry the ball, attempting to gain yardage by running towards the line of scrimmage, or in some cases, passing the ball for a more elaborate trick play.

The Blocking Scheme

The blocking scheme for an end-around play requires the offensive line to create an opening in the defense for the receiver to run through. This typically involves the linemen blocking downfield, allowing the receiver to use their speed and agility to find a path to advance the ball towards the opposite end zone.

End Around Variations

In American football, the end around play is an offensive maneuver often used to create confusion in the defense ranks. Considered one of the most common trick plays, it involves handing the ball off from the quarterback to a wide receiver or a wideout as they cross the backfield. In this section, we’ll explore the different variations of the end around play, including the Reverse, Double Reverse, and Fake End Around.


The reverse is a deceptive play that works effectively when executed correctly. In a reverse, the quarterback hands the ball off to a wide receiver or running back moving in one direction. This player then hands it off to another teammate moving in the opposite direction. Typically, the second ball carrier is another wide receiver or running back, who looks to gain yardage along the other side of the field. This play is designed to catch the defense off-guard, as they’ll initially react to the first ball carrier’s movement before having to adjust to the change in the direction of play.

Double Reverse

The double reverse expands upon the reverse play by adding one more ball exchange. In this variation, the quarterback hands the ball off to one wide receiver or running back, who then hands it off to another teammate moving in the opposite direction, following the pattern of a regular reverse. However, this second player will once again hand it off to a third teammate moving in the original direction, creating a “double reverse”. This play is more complex and requires precise execution, but when done effectively, it can lead to substantial gains, as the defense may be further thrown off by an additional change in direction.

Fake End Around

The fake end around is a play-action strategy designed to deceive the defense. In this variation, the quarterback will fake handing the ball off to a wide receiver crossing the backfield as in a standard end around. Instead, the quarterback keeps the ball and either looks to pass it downfield or run with it. This fake can draw defenders towards the wide receiver, creating gaps in coverage for the quarterback to exploit. When executed well, the fake end around can result in significant gains or even touchdowns.

Benefits and Strategies


An end around in American Football is a trick play that capitalizes on misdirection. By handing the ball off to a wide receiver instead of a running back, the offense can catch the defense off-guard, potentially leading to a significant gain in yardage. This confusion can also open up passing lanes downfield, further increasing the chances of a successful play.

Exploiting Defensive Weaknesses

The end around is particularly effective at exploiting defensive weaknesses, as it forces the defense to quickly adjust to an unexpected situation. This can result in over-pursuing, missed tackles, or creating openings for other offensive players. Utilizing the end around strategically can force the defense to spread out and cover more area, potentially leaving gaps for other offensive plays.

Allowing Skilled Players to Shine

Lastly, the end around allows skilled players, such as wide receivers, to showcase their talents beyond their typical roles on the field. As the receiver takes the handoff, they have the opportunity to display their speed, agility, and vision in an open field scenario. By putting the ball in the hands of key playmakers, the end around can lead to explosive plays and potentially game-changing moments.

Potential Drawbacks

Defensive Adaptation

It’s essential to understand that the end-around play can be anticipated and countered by a well-prepared defense. Defenders may quickly recognize the wide receiver’s movement across the backfield and adjust their positions to limit or negate any potential gains. The defensive line could be instructed to maintain their ground or pursue the ball carrier aggressively to prevent the play from gaining yardage. Additionally, the defensive backfield may also adjust their coverage to ensure there are no open passing options, further complicating the success of the end-around play.

Increased Risk of Turnovers

Another significant drawback of the end-around is the increased risk of turnovers. As a wide receiver is not typically involved in handling the football during running plays, there can be a higher likelihood of fumbles during the handoff or ball-carrying process. The complexity of the play could also lead to miscommunication and errors between the quarterback and the wide receiver.

Moreover, if the wide receiver attempts a pass after receiving the handoff, there is a higher chance of interceptions, as they may not possess the same passing skills as a traditional quarterback. Furthermore, as defenses adapt to the play, there is an increased risk of defenders reaching the ball carrier in the backfield and forcing a fumble or sack during the play’s development.

In summary, while the end-around can be an effective play that potentially leads to significant yardage gains or even touchdowns, it is not without its drawbacks. These include the potential for defensive adaptation and an increased risk of turnovers, both factors that must be carefully considered when implementing this tactic within a game strategy. Although it can be a potent tool in specific situations, a team must weigh the risks against the potential rewards before utilizing the end-around play.