Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.
Travel or tear motion is the horizontal motioning of a tailback outside to create an empty backfield prior to the snap. This motion is most often used in spread systems.
In many spread systems, motioning the tailback outside to create an empty backfield presents numerous advantages for the offense. Significantly, the move – as with other skill position motions – can force the defense to tip its coverage in how they react to the move. For example, if a linebacker follows the back outside, the defense could be playing man coverage. Against zone, motioning the back out could flank the defense if they do not adjust properly. These motions are also used with Run / Pass Options that utilize the quarterback as the main running threat. In Coach Noel Mazzone’s system, such motion could either be called Travel or Tear.
Tear motion is when the tailback motions across the quarterback to the opposite side of where he initially lined up. This type of motion can cause more confusion for defensive communication as the other side of the defense now has to account for another offensive player.
The tailback performs a travel motion and the quarterback sees that no defender follows him out, giving the offense a numbers advantage to the bubble screen. He throws the screen and the defense is outflanked and slashed for a sizable gain. This is just one example of how travel/tear motions can be used to give an offense a strategic advantage.