A Translator's English-Finnish Gridiron Glossary
A Translator's English-Finnish Gridiron Glossary
Antti Pasanen, 2003

FAST Area Studies Website
Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere, Finland

The primary source for this glossary’s Finnish translations is Juha Pinomaa’s Amerikkalainen jalkapallo (1987), which was recommended as a terminology source by Suomen Amerikkalaisen Jalkapallon Liitto (SAJL) Board Chair Roope Noronen. Teuvo Arolainen and Eero Vartia's Jenkkifutis (1987) was used as a comparison source. When the translations of the two sources differed from each other, both were included in this glossary; when they were the same, only Pinomaa has been cited. The (slang) terms in quotation marks are based on the author's personal experience and common practice in the sport. The explanations of the terms are also the author's.

Player PositionsPenaltiesGeneral Vocabulary

Player Positions

Center (C) The offensive lineman in the middle of the line: gives the snap. Sentteri (Arolainen)
Cornerback (CB) The defensive player who usually plays against the receivers on pass plays. Kulmapuolustaja (Pinomaa) "Corneri"
Defensive back  A general name for the defensive players who play against pass or receivers: includes cornerbacks and safeties. Puolustuksen takamies, takakentän  pelaaja (Pinomaa)
Defensive end (DE) The defensive lineman positioned outside the tackles. Ulompi linjapuolustaja (Pinomaa) Linjapuolustaja (Arolainen) "Endi"
Fullback (FB) The running back who blocks more often. Keskushyökkääjä (Pinomaa) "Fulli", "äfbee"
Guard (G) (left guard,  right guard) (RG, LG) The offensive linemen next to center on both sides.  Sisempi linjamies (Pinomaa)
Halfback (HB) The running back who usually carries the ball. Keskushyökkääjä (Pinomaa)
Kicker (K) A special teams player who only kicks the ball, for instance in field goals and kick offs. Potkaisija (Pinomaa)
Linebacker (LB)  (Middle linebacker, outside linebacker) (MLB, OLB) Defensive player positioned behind the linemen to back them up. Plays also pass defense. Tukimies (Pinomaa) "Lainbäkkeri", "älbee"
Nose guard (NG) The defensive lineman opposite the offense's center. Keskimmäinen linjapuolustaja  (Pinomaa) "Noussi"
Punter (P) A special teams player who is used when the team punts the ball to the other team. Differs from kicker because the ball is kicked from the hand, not from a tee. Lentopotkun potkaisija (Pinomaa) Potkaisija (lentopotkut) (Arolainen) "Puntteri"
Quarterback (QB) The leader of the offense: calls the plays, communicates with the coach and moves the ball to receivers and running backs after the snap. Pelinrakentaja (Pinomaa) "Quubee"
Running back (RB) The general name for the offensive players positioned behind the quarterback in the formations. RBs are the ball carriers in almost every running play. See halfback and fullback.  Keskushyökkääjä (Pinomaa) "Bäkki"
Safety (Free safety, strong  safety, weak safety)  (S, FS, SS, FS) The defensive player positioned at the very back of the defense. Primarily defends against pass, and often has no man-to-man responsibility. Takapuolustaja (Pinomaa) Takamies (Arolainen) "Seifti"
Special teams In some events of the game, such as kicking a field goal or returning a kick off, a special lineup of players is used. This lineup is called "special teams". Erikoisjoukkueet (Pinomaa)
Tackle (offensive tackle,  defensive tackle, right and left tackle) (OT, DT, RT, LT) In the offense, the tackles are the linemen positioned next to the guards, in defense they are on the linemen on both sides of the noseguard. Linjamies; puolustuksen sisempi linjamies, hyökkäyksen ulompi linjamies (Pinomaa) (Ulompi) linjamies (Arolainen)
Tight end (offensive end) (TE) The offensive player positioned in the line outside the tackles: can either block or receive passes. Sisempi laitahyökkääjä (Pinomaa) "Taitti", "endi"
Wide receiver (WR) The offensive players whose main function is to catch the ball. The outernmost position in the line of scrimmage. Ulompi laitahyökkääjä (Pinomaa) Laitahyökkääjä (Arolainen) "Risiiveri", "rissu"

Top of page


Clipping Blocking a player from behind. Takaapäin blokkaaminen  (Pinomaa)
Grabbing the facemask Grabbing a player's face mask and causing the risk of neck injury. Kasvosuojukseen tarttuminen (Pinomaa) "feismaskaaminen"
Encroachment  A player makes contact with opposing team's player on the other side of the line of scrimmage before the snap is given. Paitsio (Pinomaa)
Holding Illegal use of hands and arms during a block. Kiinnipitäminen (Pinomaa)
Illegal motion One offensive player, who is not a lineman, can move before the snap. Other movement is not allowed. Sääntöjenvastainen liike tai paikanvaohto (Pinomaa)
Intentional grounding The passer throws the pass on the ground intentionally to avoid being tackled. Tahallinen epäonnistuminen  syötössä (Pinomaa)
Interference Illegal interfering of the offensive player attempting to receive a pass. Syötön vastaanoton häirintä  (Pinomaa) "Häirintä"
Offside Any part of a player (with the exception of the center) is in the neutral zone when the snap is given. Paitsio (Pinomaa)
Roughing the kicker Contact with the kicker during the kick: the kicker has immunity when kicking the ball. Potkaisijaan törmääminen  (Pinomaa)
Roughing the passer  Contact with the passer after the pass has been made, or a clear attempt to injure the lightly protected  passer. Also "unnecessary roughness". Syöttäjään törmääminen  (Pinomaa)
Spearing Using the helmet in blocks or tackles as the primary contact surface. Keihästäminen (Pinomaa)
Tripping Attempting to stop the ball carrier by tripping. Kampitus (Pinomaa)
Unsportsmanlike conduct Any act contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship.  Epäurheilijamainen  käyttäytyminen (Pinomaa)

Top of page

General Vocabulary

Alignment  The position of the players before the snap. Alkuryhmitys (Pinomaa)
Audible A voiced command to change the play at the line of scrimmage. Pelin vaihtosignaali (Pinomaa) Pelinvaihtokoodi (Arolainen)
Back judge One of the game officials. Keeps count of the defensive players, the game clock and oversees among other things the passes and kicks. Takatuomari (Pinomaa)
Blitz/Blitzing  The defensive backs or safeties abandon regular tasks and rush the offense. Puolustuksen läpijuoksupeli (Pinomaa) Läpiryntäys, ryntääminen (Arolainen) "Blitzata", "blitzi"
Blocking Moving another player away, or preventing another player from reaching a destination. Blokkaaminen (Pinomaa) Estäminen, torjuminen (Arolainen)
Blocking a kick  Defensive players manage to prevent the offense's kick play. Potkun torjuminen (Pinomaa)
Cadence The word commands and their rhythm the QB uses to start the offense. For example "down, set, hut." Pelin aloitusmerkit (Pinomaa) "Kutsu/kutsut"
Calling a play Selecting the offensive or defensive formation and the way to act in it. Expressed in codes such as "22 Lead" and "44 Counter Blast". Pelin valinta, ilmoittaminen (Pinomaa)
Chain gang The three officials on the sidelines who hold the down, yards to go and line of scrimmage marker posts. Mittaryhmä (Pinomaa) "ketjujengi"
Cleat Plastic spikes or studs placed on the bottom of the player's shoe to improve their grip. "nastat"
Coin toss Before the beginning of a game, the referee tosses a coin and the captains of the opposing teams call the toss. The winner gets to choose whether to start with offense or defense or by choosing the goal to defend (mainly concerning sunshine and wind conditions). The loser of the coin toss will get the remaining choice. Teikkaus, rahan heitto (Arolainen)
Containing a play (related: contain man, contain responsibility) The defensive strategy of forcing the offensive play toward the center of the field in order to trap the ball carrier . Pelin sisään kääntäminen (Pinomaa)
Conversion (2-point conversion) An extra point attempt worth 2 points. See "extra point". Ylimääräinen yritys (Pinomaa) "Lisäpiste/lisäpisteyritys"
Coverage  Also "pass coverage": the offensive receivers are "covered" by the defense. Heittopuolustus (Pinomaa)
Down The offense has four attempts, called downs, to progress 10 yards from the point they started their offensive turn. Success in this awards four new downs. Yritys, peli (Pinomaa) "Downi"
Drill Various training excercises: each player position has specific drills, for instance for blocking or catching the ball. Harjoite (Pinomaa)
Drive The series of plays a team puts together in an attempt to score.  "Draivi"
End zone Both ends of the field have an end zone. The offense tries to enter the defense's end zone in order to score a touchdown. Maalialue (Pinomaa)
Extra point After scoring a touchdown, the offense can attempt to score additional two points from an extra point position near the end zone by getting a ball carrier into the end zone, or one point by kicking the ball through the goalposts. The 2-point conversion is worth two points, the PAT one point. Ylimääräinen yritys (Pinomaa) "Lisäpiste/lisäpisteyritys"
Face mask The plastic grill in the front of the helmet. Varying sizes and thicknesses depending on the player's position. Kasvosuojus (Pinomaa)
Fair catch The player catching a kick off can call for a fair catch by waving a hand if it seems that a dangerous tackle during the catch is inevitable. The player can then catch the ball without being tackled, and the offensive turn begins from the point where the ball was caught, instead of a normal kick return. Vapaa kiinniotto (Pinomaa)
Field goal Both ends of the field have goal posts: kicking the ball through them in a normal game situation is worth three points. A field goal attempt is usually made if the offense is close enough to the end zone for a successful kick to be possible, but believes it to be impossible to reach new downs, or is running out of time and scoring only three points would be enough. Both scoring and failure to score will both result in a change of offensive turn. Potkumaali (Pinomaa)
Flag football A non-contact version of football for younger players. In flag football, the tackles are done by snatching a "flag" from a belt the ball carrier wears, and for instance blocking is limited. Lippupallo, "lippufutis"
Fumble  The ball carrier loses the control of the ball and either team can take the possession of it: the defense can gain the offensive turn immediately in this way. Rähmäys, pallon pudotus (Pinomaa)
Formation The positions of the players in the beginning of a play. Usually related with the position of the running backs. For instance, the offensive I-formation gets its name from the two running backs being positioned behind the QB, thus forming the letter "i";  the same logic applies to formations such as wishbone and T-formation. Aloitusmuodostelma, aloitusryhmitys  (Pinomaa) "Muodostelma", "muoto"
Half time The non-play period of time between the second and third quarter of the game. Varies in countries and leagues. Often features a half time show. Puoliaika (Arolainen)
Hand off  The quarterback hands the ball to a player, who then becomes a ball carrier. Pallon ojennus (Pinomaa)
Head linesman One of the game officials. Primarily oversees offsides and encroachments; the neutral zone, also the chain gang. Keeps count of the yards to go and down in progress. Linjatuomari (Pinomaa)
Hip pads Foam pieces placed in pockets inside the player's pants to protect the hip and pelvic bones. Lantiosuojukset (Pinomaa) "Lonkkasuojat"
Huddle Before the plays, the offense and the defense gather together to receive the play and the formation used from the captains. The offensive team has a limited amount of time to spend in the huddle before starting the down. Aloituskokous, jossa joukkueelle  ilmoitetaan seuraavaksi pelattava peli (Pinomaa) Aloituskokous (Arolainen) "Haduli"
Interception The defensive player manages to catch the offense's pass: the offensive turn changes immediately. Syötön katko (Arolainen) Eteenpäinsyötön katkaisu (Pinomaa) "Intteri"
Kick off The offensive turn changes after scoring a touchdown or a field goal through a kick off: the other team kicks the ball to the other team, which the returns it as far as possible and then begins its offense from the point they are stopped at. A kick off also starts a football game. Aloituspotku (Pinomaa) "Kikoffi"
Line of scrimmage The level of the ball when it is ready to be snapped, an "imaginary line" between the two teams. The line of scrimmage is defined by the tips of the ball when it is set down, and both offense and defense have their own lines of scrimmage.  Aloituslinja (Pinomaa)
Line judge One of the game officials. Oversees among other things the offsides and the line alignments. Kenttätuomari (Pinomaa)
Man in motion One offensive player, who is not a lineman, can move before the snap. Many plays are based on this motion, which makes it harder for the defensive player guarding the man in motion to anticipate what is going to happen. Pelin alkaessa liikkeellä oleva pelaaja (Pinomaa) Liikkellä oleva pelaaja (Arolainen)
Man to man defense Having specific defensive players to guard their respective offensive players. (cf. zone defense) Miespuolustus (Pinomaa)
Motion An offensive player is moving before the snap. See "man in motion". Often shouted out by the defense. "Motioni", "moussoni"
Neck roll A tube-like foam roll placed between the shoulderpads and the helmet to protect the neck. "Niskasuojus", "niskarulla"
Onside kick The kick off has to progress 10 yards to be legal. After 10 yards, the ball becomes free for both teams. An onside kick is a risk play used to try to gain the possession of the ball immediately again after kick off. Lyhyt aloituspotku (Pinomaa) "Onsaidi"
Passing Progressing by throwing the ball. "Heittopeli"
Pass route The movement of the receivers depends on specifically named pass routes which describe how to move in the play. For instance, a tight turn back toward the direction the receiver was running from after a certain amount of yards is known as a "hook" pass route, because it forms a hook when drawn. The use of specific pass routes allows the QB to know where the receivers are during the down. Heittokuvio (Pinomaa)
Pitch A lateral or backwards one-handed pass (cf. toss) Alakautta syöttö (Pinomaa) Sivusyöttö (Arolainen) "Pitsi"
Point after touchdown, PAT The kicked extra point worth 1 point. See "extra point". Ylimääräinen yritys (Pinomaa) "Lisäpiste/lisäpisteyritys"
Referee One of the game officials, the head judge. Has the final decisionmaking power. Calls the penalties to the team captains. Päätuomari (Pinomaa)
Running lane The "gaps" between the offensive linemen are numbered, and in the play names the numbers tell the running backs which running lane they are going to head towards when carrying the ball. Juoksulinja (Pinomaa)
Rushing Progressing by carrying the ball. Eteneminen pallon kanssa (Pinomaa)
Sack A defensive player tackles the QB behind the offense's line of scrimmage. Pelinrakentajan taklaaminen, säkki (Pinomaa)
Safety A player of the offensive team is tackled or goes down at their own end zone. Worth two points for the tackling team, results in changing the offensive turn. Oma maali (Pinomaa) "Seifti"
Shift Offensive players move in the formation before the snap, for instance to confuse the defense. Paikanvaihto hyökkäyksen aloitusryhmityksessä (Pinomaa) Paikanvaihto, siirto (Arolainen) "Shifti"
Shoulder pads The protective equipment the players wear on their shoulders, made of hard plastic plates with padding underneath. Size depends on the player's position: the linemen and the running backs have heavy protection, and for instance the QB and the kickers have light protection. Hartiasuojukset (Pinomaa) "Harttarit"
Snap The plays start with the center snapping the ball backwards to the hands of the QB. Aloitussyöttö (Pinomaa) "Snäppi"
Snap count The snap is given on the command of the QB. The most usual commands are "down, set, hut". When the "hut" is shouted, the center performs the snap. In order to confuse the defense, the snap count can be changed so that the snap is not given until for instance the third "hut": "down, set, hut, hut, hut". Aloitusmerkki (Pinomaa)
Shotgun (formation) Both a formation and a type of snap: the center throws the ball backwards from the snap to the quarterback instead of the QB being right behind the center to get the ball handed backwards. Shotgun-muoto (Arolainen) "Shotgun"
Stance The position of the player at the start of a play. For instance, the linemen often use a three-point stance, which means they are leaning forward one hand on the ground. This makes it easier to rush forward quickly. Players who may need to move either back or forth, such as the linebackers, use a two-point stance in which one leans lightly on the knees in an upright position. Lähtöasento (Pinomaa) "Stanssi"
Tact gloves Special type of glove with a sticky palm surface which makes catching the ball easier. "rissuhanskat"
Thigh pads Foam pieces placed in pockets inside the pants on the thighs to protect the thigh bones from injury. Reisisuojukset (Pinomaa)
Time out Both teams have three time outs after and before the half time. Aikalisä (Pinomaa)
Toss Two-handed lateral pass of the ball (cf. pitch) "Tossi"
Touchback The ball is put down by a player behind his own goal line when the ball has been put across the goal line by an opponent. Can happen for instance in kick offs, when the kick lands in the end zone and the player returning the kick has no chance to exit the end zone. Does not count as a safety. Takalaiton (Pinomaa)
Touchdown (TD) The offense's ball carrier enters the defense's end zone. Worth six points. Maali (Pinomaa) "Teedee"
Turnover Losing of the offensive turn. Can happen if the offensive team cannot gain the necessary yards on the fourth down, or at any point if the ball is taken by the defense by making a interception or recovering a fumble. Pallon menetys vastustavalle joukkueelle (Pinomaa)
Umpire One of the game officials. Mainly follows the linemen, also oversees for instance kick offs, equipment and substitutes. Aputuomari (Pinomaa)
Zone defense The area of the field the defensive players are on is divided into different zones (for instance deep zone and outside zone), which are then guarded by specific defensive players. (cf. man to man defense) Aluepuolustus (Pinomaa)

TopFAST Glossary CenterFAST Home

Last Updated 25 April 2010