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Possible Stances for Running Backs in Football

The running backs in an American football team’s offense use established stances, depending on the play being run. A running back can use two stances:

  • The up stance: He has his hands resting on his thighs, a few inches above his knees. This stance is also called the two-point stance.

  • The down stance: He puts his right hand on the ground like a lineman. It’s also called the three-point stance because one hand and both feet are on the ground.


Runners can use the two-point stance when they’re in the split-back formation, with one back aligned to the left and one to the right of the quarterback. However, most coaches prefer for their runners to use the three-point stance in this alignment because they believe it provides the runner with a faster start than the two-point stance — much like a sprinter bursting from his blocks.

In the I formation, so named because the center, quarterback, fullback, and halfback line up behind one another to form a letter I, the deep back is always in a two-point stance. The fullback in the I formation is in front of the tailback. He can be in either a two-point or a three-point stance because he’s blocking on 95 percent of the plays:

  • Two-point stance: Better on passing downs because it enables the running back to see the defensive alignment better — meaning he can see whether a linebacker may be blitzing, especially if he must block this defender.

  • Three-point stance: Better for blocking because the running back can exert his force upward and into the defender’s chest and upper body.

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