The Basics of Football


Football is a team sport with two teams of usually 11 players (though some variants play with more) and a ball. The object of the game is to score more points than your opponents in a game that lasts 90 minutes plus any extra time deemed necessary. The clock stops at the end of each incomplete passing play, when a player goes out of bounds, or when a team calls a timeout. The ball is then re-spotted by an official and the clock starts again at the beginning of the next play.

There are hundreds of plays that can be run by a team on each down and there is much to learn about the game. Generally the head coach or quarterback of the attacking team will call the on field plays while the defensive captain calls the defensive plays for his/her side.

The ball is snapped by the center or long snapper who then hands the ball to the quarterback, holder or punter. The ball must be snapped within 40 seconds of the end of a previous play or the team will be penalized for delay of game. The clock also stops when the ball flies out of bounds, when an official throws a yellow flag for a penalty, or if a team calls a timeout.

Once the offense has the ball they must try to move forward 10 yards to get a first down. This is known as “going upfield”.

A team can advance further if they can gain two or more first downs in four attempts. If they fail to make this yardage then they must kick the ball to the defensive team.

If a ball is caught by an opposing player then it is an interception and that player can run with the ball until they are tackled or forced out of bounds. A lost fumble is also referred to as a turnover and the team that recovers it can continue running with the ball until they are tackled or lose possession of it.

Penalties in football are generally signalled by an official throwing a yellow or red flag at the spot of the foul. Most penalties result in the offensive team getting a first down or moving closer to the defense’s end zone. Some penalties are more serious than others and can result in a player being sent off.

The most valuable action in football is scoring a touchdown which is achieved by either carrying the ball into or throwing a pass into the opposition’s end zone. This nets 6 points for the team. After a touchdown a team may elect to try one or two extra points by kicking the ball through a goal post. This is done from a set distance and on rare occasions can be attempted from inside the opposing teams end zone. Safeties are very rare and give the defending team two points.