What Is A Dive Play In Football?

A dive play in football refers to a rushing play in which the team runs the ball up the middle of the field between the offensive lineman.

A dive play usually targets a gap between the center and guard or the guard and tackle, also known as the A gap and B gap.

Generally speaking, dive plays are going to be used in short-yardage situations. Since the running back is going into the middle of the formation the potential for a long run is unlikely.

Dive play example

On a dive play, the ball is going to be handed to a running back or fullback. To start the play the center is going to snap the ball to the quarterback. The quarterback will then turn and hand the ball off to the running back.

On some variations of a dive play, the fullback may act as a lead blocker. When this happens the fullback is going to travel through the hole made by the offensive lineman first.

Once the fullback gets through the hole he will block the first defender waiting there for the running back.

The running back will have received the ball from the quarterback and approach the hole in the offensive line.

The interior offensive line will be working to generate a hole for the running back. The hole the running back runs through is going to be determined before the play.

This lets the offensive lineman know which direction they should block the defensive lineman. The defensive tackles are going to be the most important players to block on this play.

Defensive tackles make their money by plugging holes in the offensive line. They will attempt to determine which hole the running back is going to hit.

The defensive tackles will then do their best to block that area forcing the running back to try a different hole.

For this reason, defensive tackles are often double-teamed on dive plays. This way the running back will have a much easier time getting through the defensive line.

If you want to learn more about specific plays like the dive play in football see our guides to draw plays or the trick play known as a hook and ladder.

When Are Dive Plays Used

Now that you’ve lined what a dive play is in football it’s time to break down when these plays are utilized in football.

Goal Line Offense

The goal line is one of the most popular places for a dive play to be run. These plays are used in goal-line situations for a few reasons.

First off these plays are great for gaining a few yards. Since the ball carrier is quickly hitting the line of scrimmage it is common for this play to pick up a few positive yards.

The double teams on the defensive tackle also make it much easier for the running back to gain those first few yards.

Additionally, dive plays are not likely to result in a turnover. Since this play is a rush up the gut the chance of possession changing is incredibly low.

This means it is a great low-risk option when teams are looking to punch the ball into the endzone.

Third And short

Third down and short is another situation in which you will likely see a dive play. On these plays, the running back will very rarely go for negative yards.

Since the player goes in a straight line to the line of scrimmage it is very difficult for defenders to tackle him before he gets positive yardage.

This makes this play great for third and short situations as the likely hood of getting the first down is quite high.


I hope you have enjoyed this guide to understanding the dive play in football. If you have any questions reach out in the comments or through e-mail.

If you want to check out some similar articles breaking down plays like the dive play see our guides to busted plays in football, the naked bootleg or the triple option.

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