A tactic in which the quarterback will deliver a short pass to a receiver, usually a running back, that is directly in front of him. This is considered a misdirection play as the offensive line will let the pass rush make it upfield before the quarterback flips the ball to the receiver, who will then attempt to gain yardage through the middle of the field. A shovel pass is generally a low risk play, but rarely goes for significant yardage.
The shovel pass is the passing equivalent of a draw play. It relies on creating a small gap in the middle of the offensive line, and after a short delay attacking the center of the offense. Shovel passes are particularly common near the end zone, where a short gain can result in a touchdown and the defense may be spread out to guard against passing. A good shovel pass is a soft flip delivered from the center of the chest directly to the hands of the running back.