What Is A Direct Snap In Football?

If you are an avid football fan then you likely know what a snap/hike is in football. But the term direct snap is a term used much less frequently.

A direct snap in football is snap that goes directly to someone other than the usual or expected receiver. In most cases, this is a snap to a skill position player instead of the quarterback.

There are several different definitions for this football term online but since it is football slang there is no official meaning. Some believe a direct snap only occurs when in shotgun formation and a running back or wide receiver catches the snap directly.

Personally, we believe that a direct snap would also include formations such as the wildcat. In which the runningback will catch the snap directly and then determine whether to run or throw.

In most cases, these kinds of plays are going to be running plays. Usually, the skill position that catches the hike will immediately advance the ball in an attempt to catch the defenders off guard.

Examples Of Direct Snaps In Football

Now that you understand what this football term means it’s time to check out some examples. This will help you understand how exactly this strategy is used in a football game.

Jet Sweep

One of the most common plays when using a direct snap is a jet sweep. A jet sweep is a play in which a wide receiver comes running across the formation and receives the ball right as they pass the quarterback.

In most cases, the quarterback catches the snap and hands the ball to the wide receiver. But on some occasions, the wide receiver will get a direct snap and run with the ball outside the tackle.

If the receiver has enough speed they will be able to turn the corner and pick up a good chunk of rushing yards.


The wildcat formation is likely the most common occurrence of the direct snap in the NFL. In this formation, there is no quarterback in the field meaning a skill position is going to receive a direct snap every time.

The vast majority of wildcat plays end up being a rush. Sometimes the running back will carry the ball by himself and sometimes he may hand it off.

On the odd occasion, the runningback will throw from the wildcat formation.

Fake Punt

Another example of a snap directly to a positional player occurs on special teams. One style of fake punt has the ball snapped to the personal protector instead of the punter.

Once the personal protector gets the ball he will either throw it to the gunner on the outside or run it forward himself.

The reason we consider this to be a direct snap is that it is going to the personal protector instead of the obvious player which is the punter.

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