Madden 21: Beginner’s guide to running – Controls, tips, and more

Your guide to running the pigskin in Madden 21.

To run a successful offense, you can’t neglect the running game. Running the football will not only allow you to pounce on an opponent that is expecting a pass but also make you more unpredictable. So how do you run a successful running game? Let’s go over our tips for what you need to know about running the football in Madden 21.

Know the controls

Before you do anything with the running game, you need to learn the controls. Once you call the formation and hike the football to start a running play, you’ll be able to move the ball carrier once he has the pigskin with the left stick. The right stick can be used to perform various moves that can be used to either evade or push through a defender. Ball carriers can perform a truck (right stick up), a dead leg (right stick down), a juke (right stick left or right, depending on what direction you want to perform the move, or a spin (move the right stick either clockwise or counter-clockwise).

Here are some other controls you should know for running the football in Madden 21:

  • Sprint – RT/R2
  • Protect Ball – RB/R1
  • Hurdle – Y/Triangle
  • Stiff Arm – A/X
  • Dive – X/Square
  • Spin – B/Circle

A full breakdown of the ball carrier controls can be found down below for Xbox players:

Find the right playbook

If you want to get creative with the running game, you might want to start with the playbook. Playbooks are the lifeblood of any offense, so having the best running and RPO plays can be a game-changer. As far as what playbooks are good for the running game, the Ravens’ playbook is a great option for those who want to pound the ball with a half back or look to run options with the QB. Other playbooks that have good running plays include the Saints, Rams, and 49ers.

Look for the holes

When running the football, you need to keep a close eye on the holes that might pop up in the middle of the field. If your opposing line is strong enough to stop the opposing defenders from rushing you, there’s a good chance that space will be opened up for you. As a ball carrier, you need to make the most of that space when you see it because you can pick up a lot of yards in a short period.

Read the opposing defense

A critical part of the running game has nothing to do with the plays that you run. Instead, much of it has to do with how the opponent aligns the defense. When you are in the pre-snap stage of the play, you will get a good look at how the opposing defense is set up. This is important, as just by looking at how the opponent is set up, you can get a general idea of what you should do for the following play.

Each play, you will typically see anywhere from 7-8 players right near the line of scrimmage or the box. If you are planning to launch a running play, your job is to get an idea as to what the opponent is planning to run based upon how the defense is set up in the box. If the front seven is close to the line, it’s highly likely that the opponent is planning a blitz, which can stuff a run. However, if the opponent’s defense is more spread out, this means that there’s a higher probability that the opposition is not going to run a blitz.

Watch for these tendencies, because if you see that the opponent is planning a blitz, you can audible out of the play. Or, you can audible to call a running play if you see the opposition in a vulnerable formation.

Look for a quick running back

Or a power back, depending on how you want to play. If you plan on running many outside runs or stretches, consider looking for a fast running back to use. If you’re playing in Online Head to Head, try using the Saints (Alvin Kamara), Giants (Sequon Barkley), or Patriots (Sony Michel), three teams that have quick running backs. If you’re in Madden Ultimate Team or Franchise mode, look for backs with high Speed, Acceleration, and Agility attributes.

However, if you plan on calling a lot of inside rushes, such as dive plays, you might want to use a power back that can break through opposing defenders. The Ravens (Mark Ingram), Titans (Derrick Henry), and Browns (Nick Chubb) are all teams that have some muscle in the running game. For MUT and Franchise mode, look for players who have high Break Tackle and Trucking attributes.

Diversify your play calling

One more thing that you should keep in mind when running the football is that you need to diversify your play calling. You can have the best running back, a great offensive line, and a fantastic playbook, but if you are predictable, opposing players will pick up on your tendencies.

To avoid this, try alternating run and pass plays. Run a dive or a stretch one play, and a mesh play on the second. Also, don’t be afraid to run the football on a second and long, as long as you’re confident in your team’s ability to gain yardage. The key is to get the opponent confused, as the last thing you want to happen is to have the opposition read everything that you do. That’s an easy way to lose momentum in a game.