It’s Not A Counter Run Unless it Has This

By FirstDown PlayBook on Sep 1, 2021

Okay. Part 2 for our little mini series on knowing the difference in a power run play and a counter run play. Today we are going to look at what constitutes a counter run. If you have not read yesterday’s blog I would do that. Go read it here.

We are going to try to keep this shorter. Essentially because we hit on some or a lot of this yesterday. Here’s the gist though. A lot of you confuse the power and the counter run plays. It’s not that complicated if you look for these three things about the power and the counter. Today we will list the three things that are present if you are running a counter.

There Is Some Version Of The Back Starting Opposite

This comes in different versions, like a lot of football plays do. However, you are going to see a potential ball carrier heading west first on a east bound play if it’s a counter. We show you in this video how that can be done several ways.

Here is the thing that some of you need to remember. Just because a play is run to the weak side of a formation does not make it a counter. We see this mistake all the time. Some of the best counter runs are off of the base play to the weak side. This gives you a counter to the strong side and a damn good one.

There Is Still A Puller

This is what causes the most confusion. Yes, there is a puller on a true counter and a power and they often have the same job. The job may be to pull up inside for a linebacker. It also might be to kick out the end man on the line of scrimmage. The puller might be a guard, a tackle, a tight end and even a center.

There can be one or two pullers on a counter run. Check the video out for more on this. Be careful because some coaches like Sean McVay will hand that ball off to the second puller. Is it still a counter? Yup. There’s just one puller on this version though.

The Second Puller Will Come From the Opposite Side Of The Play

Look, this is the one that got us when we saw the Facebook post comparing the power, the counter and a the trap. If the back is no the same side of the run…it ain’t a counter. It’s probably a power or a bastardized iso. It is not a counter.

Mark this down. If it’s a counter run, the second blocker (if there is one) will come from the opposite side of the formation. If that second puller is window dressing and there is another lead blocker on the play side then that’s different. See where the confusion comes in?

We would challenge you to go back and study every football play you have ever seen in your life. If you find a play that would dispel our definition of what a power is as opposed to a counter, please email us at We will get back to you within 24 hours. Thanks!