The Basic Rules of American Football

The game of American football is played over a series of plays called downs. Each down is a short play that may consist of a play from scrimmage, a punt or field goal attempt, or a drop kick, place kick, or fair-catch kick. Ideally, a team has eleven players on the field. Each player is assigned a specific task during play. Here are some of the basic rules of American football.


The gameplay of American football consists of gaining yards toward the end zone. The game is divided into phases. Players start by kicking the ball to the other team. Then tries to catch it as far away from the other team’s end zone as possible. When the ball reaches the other team’s end zone, the player who caught it must run toward the goal line to score points while avoiding tackles and defenders.

In American football, the field is 100 yards long, but it is actually 120 yards long, because of the end zones. The field is 53.3 yards wide. The game begins with the Kick-Off, where both teams are attempting to move the ball down the field. The defense’s goal is to stop the offense from moving the ball and preventing it from scoring. The game also involves two half-times. For instance, halftime occurs at the end of the first half.

Downs in American Football

Football fans have likely heard about downs. These are the terms used to describe the number of yards the player with the ball needs to gain in order to gain a first down. The player may be inches away from the first down marker, but that doesn’t mean they are down. There are three different types of downs in the game: first down, second down, and third down. Regardless of the type of down, there are a few things you should know about it.

First, downs are the basic unit of football play. Each down is the same length, and teams have four opportunities to move the ball 10 yards forward. If they fail to do this, a down is reset and the game resumes from the starting point. In many cases, the team will be forced to turn the ball over to the defense if they do not reach the 10-yard requirement within four downs. If this happens, the offensive team will receive the ball again.

Scoring options

If the offense scores a touchdown, the team can take advantage of two scoring options to gain the extra point. The first option is a field goal, also known as a PAT, which allows a team to kick a field goal for 1 point. This is a much easier option than the two-point conversion. Many teams have kickers who can hit through the field goal posts and line up to attempt this option after a touchdown. This option is not automatic, but it is usually successful.

Time management Rules of American football

As in any sport, time management in American football is an important factor in game play. Football coaches have been trying to squeeze as much time out of the game as possible. And improperly timed plays and timeout decisions can cost their teams the game. In fact, the father of time management in American football, Homer Smith, has spent over three decades coaching in the college ranks and one season with the Kansas City Chiefs. A former professional quarterback, Smith spent many years studying the sport and watching multiple games.

In 2016, Joe DeCamillis, then with the Broncos, compared the task of time management in American football to that of a controller at an airport, who must monitor and keep tabs on up to 20 planes at once. Meanwhile, Steve Smith, now with the Jaguars, likened it to being a fighter pilot in a Mayday situation, where time management in American football is crucial.

These are basic rules of American football. If you are interested in more, feel free to enjoy our blog for weekly updates.