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Special Moves and Skills

This is an excerpt from Complete Running Back by Tim Horton.

Running backs use several types of moves to escape a defender. These include jukes, spins, stiff arm, high step, forearm, and jump cut.


Juking is when the runner goes around a defender as opposed to through him. When using a juke move, you must be aware of defenders trying to tackle you. Use your head, shoulders, and upper torso to misdirect the tackler (figure 3.1). The most effective jukers don't slow down to make their move.

Figure 3.1 Running back uses his head, shoulders, and upper body to juke around a defender.
Running back uses his head, shoulders, and upper body to juke around a defender.


A spin (figure 3.2) is a complete 360-degree rotation of the body around a defender. The spin can make your intended direction less obvious and make you more difficult to grab. This move is usually used when a defender is close to you. The drawback of the spin is that it can disorient you and take your eyes away from a defensive player trying to tackle you. At times, the spin leads you to move the football away from your rib cage, which jeopardizes ball security.

Figure 3.2 Spin.

Figure 3.2 Spin.

Figure 3.2 Spin.

Figure 3.2 Spin.

Stiff Arm

The basic idea of the stiff arm is to use one arm to physically push the defender away (figure 3.3) and make a tackle more difficult or impossible. Use this maneuver on defenders who are trying to knife-tackle (tackle below the waist) you. A long-reaching arm can keep the tackler away from your body. Arm strength and timing of the punch are important. Use an open palm to keep the defender away.

Figure 3.3 Stiff arm.
Stiff arm.

High Step

Use the high step (figure 3.4) when you have passed the defender and the tackler is diving to make the tackle from behind. A high knee lift with the feet kicking forward prevents you from being tackled at the heels.

Figure 3.4 High step.
High step.



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