What Is Burst In Football?

Burst in football refers to a player’s ability to travel a short distance quickly. In other words, a player’s burst determines how quickly he can speed up.

In the game of football top-end speed is important but so is the ability to move quickly in tight spaces.

On any given play most players do not travel enough distance to reach their top speed. Instead, these players will rely on their burst to pick up speed over short distances.

Which positions rely on burst in football?

Running back

One position that needs a good burst to succeed is running backs.

On rushing plays running backs will only take a few steps before they hit their hole in the offensive line.

This means these players need to get themselves moving at a good pace in order to hit the hole with speed.

This makes burst incredibly important for running backs as it ensures they hit the hole quickly making a tackle in the backfield less likely.

Defensive end

Another position that relies on burst in football is defensive ends.

Defensive ends line up at the end of the formation and are primarily responsible for rushing the passer.

These players will typically try and get around the outside of the tackle beating them via speed and pass rush moves.

Since these players will be sprinting in short portions on almost every play their burst is very important.

Having a good burst at this position makes it easier for these players to effectively beat the tackle to the outside.

Wide receiver

The other position which highly values burst is wide receiver.

Top-end speed is important for these positions but so is their ability to cover short distances quickly.

On receiving routes wide receivers will change direction in order to achieve separation from the defender.

Having speed out of these cuts allows the receiver to separate themselves from defenders.

Burst not only improves route running but can help a receiver with his release of the line of scrimmage. The first few steps can often determine how successful a route is. This is because the defender is able to contact the receiver for the first yard after the line of scrimmage.

If the receiver is able to get a clean release the likelihood he gets open is much higher.


Another position that can benefit from having a good burst in football is the safety position. When playing safety these players are often deep into the defensive backfield waiting to react to a throw from the quarterback.

These players will often have to close down on an open receiving quickly before the ball arrives.

Having a good burst will allow the players to react quickly to deep passes from the quarterback. If the safety’s burst is quick enough they will be able to make up ground and get to the intended receiver in order to break up the pass.

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