In a game of football, a fullback is majorly an offensive blocker. Fullbacks are also known as bruising backs. So, what does a fullback do? A fullback is the main lead blocker. However, fullbacks can also open attacks, run and catch balls on plays.
At the point of attack, a fullback can open holes and make it easier for running backs to advance. However, the exact roles of a fullback can change depending on the team formation.
Continue reading below as I make a complete breakdown of what a fullback does in American football.
What Is a Fullback in Football?
Fullbacks are among the 11 offensive players in football. Primarily, fullbacks are the offensive blockers in a team. They can also run play, create holes for attacks and catch balls on plays.
It’s a tight-end position in the field with the player with various responsibilities. The main responsibilities are blocking and receiving. Fullbacks can help clear the path for halfbacks.
Generally, fullbacks are tough offensive players with good vision and strength. They are tight-end players with different roles in a team.
Why Is It Called Fullback?
A fullback is called so because way back then when quarterbacks would be a quarter yard away, fullbacks were a full yard away. It’s called a fullback because they are at the back of the quarterbacks.
Halfbacks were usually half a yard away with fullbacks being the furthest at one (full) yard away.
By being a FULL yard away, they were called FULLbacks.
What Is the Role of a Fullback?
The main role of a fullback is to be the blocker in the offense when play is running or passing. Fullbacks linebacker next to quarterbacks but at the back of the field.
However, depending on the team setup, fullbacks can perform several other roles. In short-yard situations, you’ll see the fullback run with the ball occasionally. They can also play to score or catch a pass.
You’ll see quarterbacks making screen passes to fullbacks. Such passes are usually good for fullbacks as they can break tackles.
While most fullbacks lack speed, they more than compensate for it in their tackling. Here is a list summary of some of the responsibilities of fullbacks.
- Identify correct players and create blocks
- Pick out defenders that breakthrough
- Must secure the football
- Catch the ball
- Run at plays in short-yardage
In youth football, fullbacks are even more important than professional football. This is because youth football focuses on players running more and features classic offensive formations.
What Makes a Good Fullback in Football?
With the important roles of fullbacks, they need special traits. So, what exactly makes a good fullback? A fullback position is quite challenging as players perform various roles.
Apart from running with the ball, fullbacks must have great vision and understanding of the game to anticipate blockages. Below are some traits that make a good fullback.
Body Type – Average Height & Weight
The average height of a fullback in the NFL is six feet. At six feet tall, fullbacks are about 1-2 inches taller than halfbacks.
Additionally, the average weight of a fullback in the NFL is around 250 pounds. They are close to tight-end players that average 254 pounds.
However, tight-end players are pretty similar to full-backs. They are usually six feet and 3 inches taller.
Running backs weigh around 214 pounds on average. You can see the difference in height and weight of fullbacks to other positions in the field. They tend to lie in-between but closer to tight-end players.
Fullbacks need specific skills to properly execute their roles in football. They need to be very good at identifying the correct player to block.
This requires them to have great vision. Fullbacks need to be among the smartest players on the offense similar to linebackers.
Apart from great vision and smartness, fullbacks need soft hands to easily catch balls. When a quarterback throws, they need to be sure-handed and help the team gain yardage.
Toughness and Grit
Football requires every player to be tough and gritty. However, the saying makes even greater sense when applied to fullbacks. They usually make the most contact with defenders and must absorb such heavy contacts.
Fullbacks need to be tough as they make high-impact contacts. You’ll see them lining up behind the quarterbacks. However, once they identify the defender to tackle, they run through the line of scrimmage and pick up the defenders.
So, in general, fullbacks must be exceptionally tough and strong. Their body type usually lies between the running back and the tight end.
Grit and pure strength are needed to move players out of the way and create holes for running backs to advance.
A good understanding of the gameplay is another trait that makes a good fullback.
This is why you need fullbacks with good vision and great anticipation of play. Fullbacks need to know when to tackle and what defenders to target.
A fullback should not miss his block as they are the last line of defense. They need to read the game fast and have great vision and recognition of the players to tackle.
3 Tips For A Football Fullback
Looking to become a fullback? Here are some tips to get you doing what fullbacks do best.
Tip #1. Build strength and stamina
As a fullback, you need to develop stamina and build strength for the rigors of the job. The upper body, lower body, and core need to build strength. You also need a strong waist because of the frequent hits you’ll take.
Get a strength conditioning coach and a weight training program to build on your strength and stamina. For younger players, limit weight training as they can damage the yet-to-be fully developed bones.
Tip #2. Work on your hand-eye coordination
Fullbacks need better ball-catching abilities. This means working on their hand-eye coordination to become better at ball-catching. They also need to soften their eyes for easy ball catching.
Get into regular practice and play catch with your quarterbacks or coach. You need to work on this regularly so that you become better at it.
Constant ball-catching will improve your hand-eye coordination and improve your ball-catching abilities.
Tip #3. Practice contact
A fullback will endure the most contact than any other player on the field. Can you endure constant contact until the end of the game?
You need to practice contact endurance to withstand the rigors of a fullback.
Create a practice program with your coach where you can work on blocking bags, tackling dummies, and blocking sleds.
Practice with your defenders running a three-point stance. Run straight for a few yards and drive at blockers with strength. You need to work on this drill while not absorbing real impact.
Famous Fullbacks in the Hall of Fame
There are several fullbacks in the hall of fame. Some of the famous fullbacks in the hall of fame include names like Larry Csonka, Joe Perry, Jim Brown, Marion Motley, and John Henry Johnson.
What Is the Difference Between a Fullback and a Halfback
In some formations, you might see a backside with a fullback and halfback. So, what designates these two positions?
Halfbacks are the main ball carriers in the offense while fullbacks are blockers of the offense. When you think of halfbacks, think of the running back position. They are usually elusive and pretty fast.
This is different from fullbacks that are primarily the lead blockers in the offense. The main difference between the two positions is the task of running and blocking. Responsibilities of fullbacks lean more towards blocking and catching.
Another key difference is in their strength and body sizes. Fullbacks are generally stronger and larger due to their functions of blocking.
What Is a Halfback?
A halfback is the principal ball carrier in the offense. Halfbacks have a unique set of skills to perform their functions.
They usually have great vision, are quick, and can hit holes pretty fast. Generally, halfbacks are quite fast and elusive.
Is the Fullback a Hard Position To Play?
A fullback position is quite hard to play. This might not be easily seen by fans as most formations feature a prevalent passing game.
Their role of blocking the defenders from getting to the quarterbacks is quite hard.
In most plays, fullbacks are expected to prevent the defenders from getting to the quarterbacks. In addition, they have to run on the play even when they don’t have the ball.
Do Fullbacks Play on the Special Teams?
Fullbacks can play on special teams because of their weight and size. You’ll see some teams put fullbacks on the receiving end of a punt or kick.
Which Position in Football Gets Paid the Most, Halfbacks or Fullbacks?
The halfback position is the highest paid position surpassing the fullback. When you compare the yearly salary of players, halfbacks are paid better than fullbacks.
How Important Is the Fullback Position in Football?
A fullback position is quite important in football playing a crucial role in blocking defenders.
A full-back in a football game will primarily block the defender. It is an important position in youth football where most teams play running passes.
You need the fullbacks to anticipate a block and block it.
The position can be used in professional leagues but is slowly evolving with teams now using wide receivers.
You’ll occasionally see NFL teams in short-yardage play running a fullback.