The term is used in football to describe many different aspects
of the game; it could be an individual player's role or a spot on
the field. It may describe the role of a player on the team, such
as quarterback or safety, both of which are positions on a football
It may also be defined as a specific area on the football field. For example, in a goal line formation, all defensive players will occupy a specific position on the field. In this usage, the position they play on the team is unrelated to the space they occupy on the field. This is in stark contrast to typical behavior; football is one of the few sports where position played also determines where they are positioned on the field. Another related usage refers to where on the field the team and/or ball are located. This last usage is more commonly known as "field position."
Since a football field is so big, positioning is extremely
important. As previously mentioned, a players role on the team
often determines where on the field should be positioned. This
enables players to focus on their area of the field and allows the
team to work together with minimal communication.
For example, on a kickoff, the team kicking the ball will rush ten players down the field to prevent a return. Each of these players has a "lane" on the field they are responsible for. If a player is out of position, they put their entire team at risk because the offense will try to take advantage. In the NFL, the offense is typically successful in accomplishing this.