American Football - How to Play?

Getting Ready

American Football starts with the toss of a coin, just 3 minutes before the game. The referee meets both team captains and calls for a toss. The winner of the toss has can choose from either receiving the kickoff or just kickoff to start the game. Apart from that the winning team chooses an end of the field and the loser of the toss other end of the field.

Players and Positioning

American Football has two teams and each of them has 11 players. The players have their own positions which depend on whether they belong to offensive, defensive, or special teams −

To know more about players and positions refer to the link below −

American Football - Players and Positions

Quick Glimpse of the Game

The offensive team with 11 players takes possession of the ovoid ball and tries to advance the ball by throwing and running to the opponent team’s goal post to score points. Both the teams try to gain points by crossing the goal line and getting into the end zone. The opponent team called the defense tries to stop the offensive team and takes the control over the ball. Out of both the teams, the team with the ball has to score more points or the team is forced to give up the possession of the ball. The offensive and defensive teams change roles (the offensive team goes on defense and the defensive team goes on offense). The same continues back and forth, until all four 15 minute quarters of the game have been played.

The game starts with the kickoff. The ovoid ball is placed on a tee (a cone shaped platform which holds the ball) at the defense’s 35-yard line, and a special kicker also known as a placekicker kicks the ball to the offense. Any player from offense team will try to catch the ball and advance to the defense. When a kickoff is caught in the offense's end zone, the kicker has two options to play. First option is to run the ball away from the end zone and second option is to kneel down in the end zone to gesture a touchback and to stop the play immediately. The ball is positioned on the 20-yard line and game is started again.

The offensive team tries to get as much space as it can to try and move closer to the defense’s end zone. Every time the offense gets hold of the ball and has four downs or chances to gain 10 yards. If the offensive team effectively passes and moves the ball 10 or more yards, they earn a first down and similarly other set of four downs. If the offense fails to gain 10 yards’ space, then they lose control of the ball. The defense tries to prevent the offense from scoring and gaining the 10 yards needed for first down. If the offense reaches fourth down, then they end up punting the ball (kicks it away). This makes the defense team to begin its game from further down the field.

One of the important game rules of American Football is the play from scrimmage. It is the movement of the game during which one team tries to advance the ball, get a first down, or a point, and the other team tries to stop them or take the ball away. These plays from scrimmage include–field goal attempts (from either a place kick or a drop kick), passing the ball, retaining the ball and running, punting the ball (dropping the ball from the hands and then before it reaches the ground, kicking the ball), or freekicks such as kick-offs and fair catch kicks. The game also consists of a series of downs, referred to as a time period in which the individual plays in a certain duration, outside of which the ball is dead or not in play.

Replacement of players can be made only between the downs, which allows for a great deal of choice for the team to send in the best suitable player for that particular situation.

Moving the Ball – The Run and The Pass

Usually the game begins with the snap of the ball at the line of scrimmage. The quarterback of the offense calls out a play in code and the center player passes or snaps the ball under his legs. The quarterback than continues from there and takes a quick decision on either to throw the ball or run with it.

The offense can advance the ball in two ways. First one is The Run and this happens when the quarterback player passes the ball off to a running back player, who attempts to gain as many yards as possible by escaping the defensive players. The quarterback is also one of the runners and is permitted to run with the ball.

Another alternative to taking the ball is to Pass it. The quarterback player generally passes the ball to trick the defense. Any other player from the offensive team can also pass the ball as long as the pass is thrown from behind the line of scrimmage. A pass is complete after another offensive player catches the ball, typically the wide receiver or tight end player of the catch the ball. If the ball smashes the ground before any other player catches it, then it’s an incomplete pass.

The defense players stop the offense from progressing with the ball by getting the ball to the ground. A player is said to be Tackled when the players’ knees touch the ground. This results in end of the play. A play also finishes in case if the player runs out of boundaries.

Scoring System

The game is played on a point based scoring system. The main objective of the players is to score points and team with scoring highest number of points is declared winner of the game. According to the scoring structure points can be scored in four methods that is Touchdown, Extra point (PAT), Field goal, and Safety points.

To know more about Scoring system, refer to the link below −

American Football - Scoring System