The read option is a popular football play that gives the quarterback multiple options depending on how the defense reacts at the snap of the football. The quarterback has the choice to hand the ball off to his running back or to keep the ball and run himself.
The read option play begins with the quarterback in a pistol or shotgun formation. The quarterback watches what the defense does after the ball is snapped. If the defense converges towards the inside, the quarterback can fake the hand off and run to the outside. If the defense stays back, the quarterback can hand the ball off to the running back for an inside run.