The Basic Rules of American Football l American Football 2021

  The Basic Rules of American Football  

The object of the game is for your team to score more points than the opposing team. Teams are made up of 46 players in the NFL, with 11 players taking the field at any one time.

The Measurement of the field is 100 yards long by 53 yards wide, with two 10 yard endzones at each end. White markings on the field help players, referee’s and spectators keep track of what’s going on. The game starts with a kickoff.

The team with possession of the ball is known as the offence, and the team without the ball is the defence. The job of the offence is to move the ball up the field and score points. This can be done by either running forwards with the ball or by throwing it up the sector for a teammate to catch. The offence is given 4 chances (or 4 downs)to make at least 10 yards. If the offence manages to manoeuvre the ball 10yards or more, they’re going to retain possession of the ball whilst given another 4 downs to make another 10 yards.


On your TV screen, you will see this graphic. This tells you what down the team is on and this tells you how many yards they need to make. If you’re also watching this on TV, they will also show the lines they need to cross to make their downs. The defence’s job is to prevent the offence from moving the ball forwards by tackling. This includes pulling them to the ground, stopping them from moving forward or forcing them off the field.

  The Basic Rules of American Football  
  The Basic Rules of American Football  

If the offence fails to move the ball 10 yards within 4 downs, the ball is given to the defending team at that point. The defending team will then bring on their offensive players and try and move the ball in the opposite direction so that they can score. You will presumably see an offence kick the ball away on fourth right down to make it harder for the opposite team to attain. The teams will usually have three different units of 11 players that come on the field at different times.

They include:

The Offense. These players will usually come on the field when they have possession of the ball.

The offensive unit consists of these positions

The quarterback is the most important player on the field as he’s the one who decides to pass the ball up the field, hand it off to a teammate so that they can run with it, or run with it himself. These offensive line positions are usually responsible for protecting the quarterback. The wide receivers are responsible for running down the field to catch the ball thrown by the quarterback, The back and full back is responsible for running with the botch of the sector.

The Basic Rules of American Football  
The Basic Rules of American Football  


These players will usually come on the field when the other team has the ball. The defensive unit consists of these positions –The defensive line is responsible for moving past the offensive line. The line-backers stop running backs coming through the defensive line and they also are responsible for attacking the quarterback. The cornerbacks attempt to stop the wide receivers. And the safeties attempt to stop a pass up the centre of the sector.

  Special Teams  

.Special teams are specialist players that come on the sector when there’s a kick involved. Within the special teams may be a mixture of offensive and defensive players mixed with either a punter or kicker for offence or a punt returner for defence. Now you know what all the players do and how the game is played. But how do you score?

In American Football, there are four different ways of scoring:

1. Touchdown:

The main way of scoring is via a touchdown. If the ball is carried into the endzone area, or thrown and caught within the endzone, this is often a touchdown and is worth 6 points.

Unlike in Rugby, you are doing not need to touch the ball down on the ground, all you have to do is cross the line with the nose of the ball to score.

The Basic Rules of American Football  
The Basic Rules of American Football  

2. Extra points:

Once a touchdown has been scored, you have the option of kicking it through the uprights for an extra point, or try and pass or run the ball into the endzone again for an extra two points. Most teams play it safe and go with the one-point.

3. Field Goal.

At any time, the team with the ball can kick the ball between the posts and over the crossbar. To do this, they need to hand it to a teammate who will hold it on the bottom ready for a kicker to form the kick. A successful kick scores 3 points.

The Basic Rules of American Football  
The Basic Rules of American Football  



4. Safety.

If the defence tackles an offensive player behind his own goal line, the defending team scores two points. The game is played in 4 x 15 minute quarters, for a combined playing time of an hour. The highest score at the end of 60 minutes wins.

Ties are rare in American Football, and overtime periods are played if necessary to determine a winner. Different leagues have different rules about tie games. Is that it? Is that all I need to know?

Well, you’re almost there, but AmericanFootball is filled with lots of rules, and you’ll need to understand a few more of them before you watch or play a game. For example.


If a football player or passer drops the ball, that’s a fumble. Any player on the field can recover the ball by diving on it or he can run with it. The team that recovers a fumble gets possession of the ball.

The Basic Rules of American Football  
The Basic Rules of American Football  


An aggressive defence can regain possession of the ball by catching (intercepting) passes that are meant for players on the other team. Both fumble recoveries and interceptions can be run back into the end zone for touchdowns.

The Basic Rules of American Football  
The Basic Rules of American Football  


If the defence tackles a Quarterback whilst he has possession of the ball, this is known as a ‘sack’. This is detrimental to the offence, as a down is wasted and it usually results in a loss of yards.


If a pass intended for a receiver hits the ground first, it is ruled an incomplete pass. A down is wasted and play restarts from the sport of the last down.

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