The weak side in football refers to the side of the field that has fewer offensive players. Generally, this refers to the side of the field that does not have a tight end.
When lining up the offense there are going to be five offensive linemen on the line of scrimmage. In most formations, the offense will also include a tight end on the end of the offensive line.
Whichever side gets this extra offensive lineman will become the strong side of the formation. The side that doesn’t have the tight end is the weak side because they have fewer players.
If there is no tight end or a tight end on either side then we look to the backfield to determine the strong side. If the running back is on the right side of the quarterback then this is the strong side.
If the running back is on the left of the quarterback then the left side is the strong side. The weak side will always be the side of the formation that isn’t the strong side.
The weak side is typically the side of the field that the offense will not run towards. For this reason, players that typically play on the weak side of the field will often be smaller than those that play on the strong side.
Weakside Positions In Football?
So we’ve broken down what the weakside is in football but what are weakside positions. Weakside defensive ends, will linebackers, and free safeties are all players that line up on this side of the field.
Below we will cover why these positions play on the weak side and how they differ.
Weakside Defensive End
The weakside defensive end is a position that is primarily used for pass rushing. When running the football the offense will go towards the strong side of the formation the vast majority of the time.
For this reason, the strongside defensive end is going to be a player often used for run stopping. The weakside defensive end on the other hand is not going to be involved in the run very often.
This results in these players typically being the premier pass rusher on the defense. Weakside defensive ends will often put up large sacks total due to there being fewer blockers on their side of the field.
The position of Will linebacker in football is another term for weakside linebacker. These players will line up on the weak side of the formation.
Much like weakside defensive ends these players are less involved in the run game than strongside linebackers.
For this reason, weakside linebackers are lighter and faster than most linebackers on the field. Since these players are not as involved in run stopping their skills are often used for pass coverage.
The will linebacker will often get tased with the responsibility of covering the running back or slot receiver on passing plays.
Free safeties are one of the few weakside positions that do not have weak side in its name. The other safety in the backfield is called the strong safety.
The strong safety lines up on the strong side of the formation and as you may have already guessed is more involved in the run game.
Free safeties are usually smaller and lighter than their strong safety counterparts. Free safeties will often act as the last line of defense waiting deep into the defensive backfield to stop long passes.
The free safety will still play a role in run defense but much less so than the strong safety.