How To Snap A Football & Different Types Of Center Snaps

Written By: Chris Haddad
Updated: March 6, 2024

The snap to the quarterback from the center starts the play. It allows all of the players to move from their position. But how do you snap a football properly?

A football snap is when the center successfully hands the ball off between his legs or throws it between his legs to the quarterback. Throwing it between the legs is also known as a shotgun snap.

Snapping the football has been around since the inception of the game. It requires one player to softly toss it to another player, which officially allows the offensive players to move. Just as important ball security is to a running back, the exchange from the center to the quarterback is equally essential.

In this article, we will examine the different types of football snaps and how to get in the proper stance for an offensive lineman.

Football Snaps

The offensive play has officially begun once the center has moved the ball off the ground. Defensive players can cross the line of scrimmage and tackle the ball carrier.

The center snap is the most important movement in football. If not done correctly, it can derail the offensive play entirely.

Let’s look at different types of football snaps, and how teams use them:

  • Center Snap
  • Long Snap
  • Swinging Gate

Different Types of Football Snaps

This portion of the blog will examine how players snap the football and the variety of football snaps used throughout the game. If you’re looking for a more in-depth breakdown and simplistic tutorial, we’ve created an Ultimate Football Guide to help you learn.

Center Snap

The between the legs center snap is the most common type of snap. It requires the players to put the ball through their legs and successfully deliver it to the quarterback. Types of football snaps from this position are the under-center snap and the shotgun snap.

football snap
via Stanford football

The shotgun snap is similar to the regular snap, except the quarterback is lined up 4 yards away from the center.

As shown below, the center has a big responsibility of snapping the football, moving his feet, and effectively blocking the person in front of him. The shotgun snap has become a large part of the present-day passing game.

shotgun snap in football
via Stanford football

Long Snap

This snap is often seen on special teams. Teams often choose to bring a long snapper (different from their center) and long snap the football 10-15 yards on punts and around 5-7 yards on field goals.

Long Snapper snap in football

At high school and college levels, rules have been established to protect the center from getting hit when the snap is over 7 yards.

This is why teams often choose to bring in a smaller player, snap, and not worry about blocking.

Swinging Gate Snap

This type of snap is rare and often seen on 2 point conversions. The ball doesn’t necessarily need to go between a player’s legs.

It can be thrown to the side if the snap moves backward to an eligible player. Teams will often use this type of snap to throw the ball behind a wall of players, which can barrel forward for a first down.

swinging gate snap in football
via hhorne

This play is often found in 2 point play situations, where teams utilize the short field and spread formation to attack the weakest side (left, right, or even up the middle, as shown above).

This snap is hardly done, but it can effectively snap in different directions when executed correctly.

How To Snap A Football

There is a snap of some type to begin the play on every single play (outside of a kickoff or free-kick). Before we can even get to our advanced plays, We need to understand how the ball can be snapped. 

Above, we learned how to fundamentally snap the football. Now let’s learn the different types of football snaps in each play. Here are the types of football snaps we’ll cover:

  • Regular Snap
  • Shotgun Snap
  • Dead Ball Snap

Under Center Snap

The traditional snap is the most basic quarterback-center exchange. It is the first type taught at a Pee-Wee football level, and it is used at every level of football.

The quarterback lines up under the center and readies himself for the snap. The center snaps the ball, bends his wrist, and delivers it directly into the hands of his quarterback. See the GIF below:

under center snap in football

Shotgun Snap

As offenses began to emphasize the passing attack, the ‘Shotgun’ formations became a significant part of the game.

This involves the quarterback moving a few yards back behind the center. For the center to snap the ball, he will now have to toss the ball through the air and reach his quarterback. Below is a clip of how this snap looks:

types of football snaps in football
Via Expertvillage on Youtube

This snap is common in most levels of football. The center has a good grip on the ball and does his best to have a tight spiral in his snap. A good spiral makes it easy for the quarterback to catch it and throw it himself.

Shotgun snapping allows the quarterback to see more of the field.

Uncover your opponent’s offensive and defensive tendencies so you can easily build a game plan.

Inside You’ll Find:

  • Strategies to pick apart defenses
  • How to identify player weaknesses
  • How to save time in your weekly breakdowns

Dead Ball Shotgun Snap

Dead ball snap football

Shotgun snaps are becoming the primary snap for more college and NFL teams. As expected, coaches have found a way to maximize how the quarterback delivers the ball.

The “Dead Ball” snap can replace the one hand normal Shotgun snap.

Like a regular shotgun snap, the center snaps the ball through his legs to reach the quarterback. However, there is no spiral.

The ball is flipped back to the quarterback, who must grab the snap and then re-adjust the ball in his hands, so he has a proper grip. This small change allows other linemen to play the Center position without worrying about getting the technique of the traditional shotgun snaps mastered.

This should also minimize the chance of an errant snap. With no spiral technique in the wrist, the center does a pendulum-like backward action, which has a smaller chance of error.

Due to this fact, this snap has become more and more popular this decade.

Keep Learning

Football snaps are a key part of football. It’s important you know the three snaps and understand their differences. The offensive team that is more consistent with their snaps puts their team in the best position possible to win.

If you’re looking to learn more about the center position, we recommend you check out our Offensive Line University course. It has everything you need to learn about the position.

Below are offensive lineman articles to help you learn even more.

How To Play Offensive Line In Football – Complete Guide

Offensive Line Play: The Proper Stance

Why Offensive Lineman Wear Knee Braces & Elbow Sleeves

Who Protects The Quarterback In Football?

A football snap is the most important transition in football. The center and the quarterback exchange starts the play. It’s important teams have consistent snaps throughout the game.

The snap is one of the most important parts of a play. A poor snap or a poor transition between the quarterback and center could result from a play stalling or a turnover.

Looking to improve your overall football knowledge? We cover football snaps and all the important elements in our Ultimate Football Guide.

About the author 

Chris Haddad

Chris Haddad is the founder of vIQtory Sports & high school coach for over 12+ years. He has been featured as an authority on Hudl, Bleacher Report and countless other football-centric platforms. Chris continues to study and provide valuable content for those looking to learn more about the game of football.