As I'm unfamiliar with football terms but have to go through the topic-related text, Google is my best friend. However, one phrase bewilders me, and there is no information I could find online. Can it be a typo or a metaphor (pun) of some type?

"He got back on the team after his coach taped the plays to his wrist."

Well, footballers tape their wrists to protect them, I know. But why plays?

  • Definition 1d1, a particular act or maneuver in a game: such as the action during an attempt to advance the ball in football
    – stangdon
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 13:30
  • @stangdon Yes, I know the term and its definition. What confuses me is the context in which it is. How can one tape a play?
    – Diane Mik
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 13:44
  • 1
    Because it's written down (or printed). For example, see nj.com/giants/2012/02/tom_brady_eli_manning_may_diff.html
    – stangdon
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 13:53
  • @stangdon Thank you, now I get what's meant!
    – Diane Mik
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 14:03

1 Answer 1


In American football, a play is a particular strategy (either offensive or defensive) that is employed during a down of the game. Each team will have their own set of plays that are compiled into a playbook, and every member of the team is expected to have completely memorized the playbook, so they know exactly what they are supposed to do when a play is invoked.

The implication in your quote is that the player in question needs the plays "taped to his wrist" (that is, written down and attached to his body for easy reference) because he cannot be trusted to remember them. We'd need more context to know whether he is being called lazy (because he can't be bothered to study the playbook) or stupid (because he can't remember the plays even after studying).

The phrase "taped to his wrist" is not a common or well-known expression either in football or in English in general. It does, however, remind me of the common trope that a small child might be sent to school with a note pinned to their shirt from the parent to teacher, because small children cannot be trusted to convey important information or even to remember that they should be handing a note to their teacher.

  • 2
    Taping plays to the wrist has become quite common in recent years as football offenses have become more complicated. It is neither a sign of being stupid or lazy.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 14:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .