A running play called by an offense in which the majority of the offense will block in one direction, but the running back will cut back into a lane being opened by the weak side of the offensive line. Ideally, a counter play will have a large gap on the backside of the defense for which the running back to gain yardage through. The counter can be a bit of a risk because it takes slightly longer to develop than a conventional running play. Counters are more effective when they feature fast and agile backs that can switch directions quickly.
The counter is the most common misdirection play in a running offense's arsenal. A good counter takes advantage of an overly aggressive defense by showing them a run to one direction and hoping that the defense pursues quickly to that side, leaving only a few defenders for the weak side players to block. Often, a counter can open a big hole on the back side of the play and the running back can gain significant yardage. The downside to a counter is that if the defense is not fooled, there is nowhere for the running back to go, and he can be quickly swarmed under for a loss.