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Fall is approaching and you know what that means it’s football season! Whether it be Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, Friday Night Lights at your high school, Saturday Game Day at a college campus, or Sunday Football Day watching the pros, football can be entertaining to watch. For some, it might not be as entertaining due to not knowing what is going on besides the male species tackling each other and throwing a ball. If this is you don’t worry I have your back. Here is A Babes Mini Guide to Football.
A Babes Mini Guide to Football The Game
Each football game consists of two teams. While there might be over 50 players only 11 players can be on the field during the plays. There will be one on offense and the other on defense. The key player on each side is the quarterback who attempts to dictate play. The teams play four quarters of 15 minutes with a 12 minutes halftime in the middle. During the game, each team usually has three time-outs per half. The purpose of the game is to move the ball into the opposition’s end zone, either by running with the ball until tackled or by passing the ball to a teammate downfield, towards the end zone.
The Officials and Referee
There should always be seven officials who officiate on the field at the same time (in professional games). But, it is the Referee who has the final ruling in any important decisions.
The Referee also has superiority over all other officiating crews. As part of the American Football basics on officials for officiating matches, there will also be:
- Umpire: The Umpire is primarily responsible for spotting the ball at the beginning of plays.
- Down Judge: The Head Linesman handles the chains. The role is to verify how many yards a team has covered during a play and count how many downs a team has used (and how many are remaining).
- Line Judge: The Line Judge keeps time and helps the Linesman set up the line of scrimmage.
- Field Judge: The Field Judge supervises any defensive players who are often placed too deep.
- Side Judge: The Side Judge ensures players remain in bounds and supervises play on his side of the field.
- Back Judge: Responsible for monitoring the game duration of time-outs and half-time.
Starting a Game
A referee will organize a coin toss with the team captains, three minutes before the start of the game. The visiting team will call the toss by choosing heads or tails. If your team is the winner of the coin toss you can choose to play for the first half or the second half. The losing team in the coin toss means your team would get the remaining option. There are only two options: To take the kick-off and start the game or to receive the kickoff at the beginning instead. During the decision, the teams will choose an end of the field to defend for the first quarter. Teams will then switch directions when the first quarter ends and again at the end of the third quarter. A kick-off is when play begins. The team is in formation with seven players standing on the line of scrimmage. The line of scrimmage is a movable imaginary line determined by the officials. The kickoff takes place on a kicking tee at the defense’s 30-yard line. The place-kicker punts the ball down the field to the offensive players. A kick return man will try to catch the ball and run with it into opposition territory.
The rules and regulations of American Football allow each team to field no more than eleven (11) players during the game itself. There are no restrictions on substitutions made between plays. American Football rules and positions generally consist of three different groups of players, such as:
- Offensive Players: Typically smaller, stronger, and faster-attacking team members (including a quarterback).
- Defensive Players: Usually larger, burly, and more powerful.
- Special Team Players: The Place-kicker and the Punter specialize in kicking and punting.
A Babes Mini Guide to Football The Downs and How to Move the Ball
Downs are the part of the game which often needlessly confuses newcomers. They are actually fairly straightforward. In a nutshell, the rule is as follows: The team in possession of the ball (offense) needs to move the ball forward by at least 10 yards while they are on offense. This is why the field has marked yardage lines on it. They have four chances, or downs, to gain those 10 yards, and if they advance the ball that far, the count resets (this is called a first down) and the team earns another set of four downs to try to go a further 10 yards. If the offensive team fails to move these 10 yards within four downs, possession is then given up and the defensive side gets their turn to play offense. Teams will usually kick for a field goal or downfield to the defending team on the fourth down to try and salvage some points before they lose possession. You will hear the offensive plays referred to as two options: the run game or the passing game.
The Run Game:
- The offense will use a run to advance the ball into the opponent’s territory.
- The quarterback will either:
- Hand the ball off to a running back.
- Run with it to gain as many yards as possible.
The Pass Game:
- The alternative to running with the ball is to throw it (called the pass).
- Anyone on the offensive team can pass the ball providing they conduct it behind the line of scrimmage.
- A pass is complete when another offensive player catches the ball.
- An incomplete pass occurs if the ball hits the ground before a teammate catches it.
How to Win
Just like any other sport out there the goal is to score more points than the opposing team. Overtime would come into play if the teams both have the same number of points. Scoring in the game is as follows:
- Touchdown (6 Points) – A touchdown is scored when a team crosses the opposition’s goal line with the ball or catches or collects the ball in the end zone.
- Field Goal (3 Points) – A team will usually attempt these on the fourth down – if the kicker is close enough to the end zone (typically 40 yards or less) to kick the ball through between the upright posts.
- Extra Point (1 Point) – An extra point is earned by kicking the ball through the uprights after a touchdown.
- Two-Point Conversion (2 Points) – Two points are earned by taking the ball into the end zone again, but since it is more difficult, most teams opt to take the Extra Point option for 1pt.
- Safety (2 Points) – The defensive team can gain 2 pts if they tackle a member of the offensive team with the ball in their end zone.
A Babes Mini Guide to Football Penalties and Flags
Committing an illegal action against the rules and regulations in American Football will incur penalties. You will know if a penalty occurs when a yellow flag is thrown by one of the officials. Penalties will be either a five, ten, or 15-yard penalty, and the down gets replayed. A minor offense is more commonly punished by a five-yard penalty. Whereas an aggressive action often results in an award of a ‘first down’ to the opposition. The officials would then spot the ball in the appropriate place for a penalty and play would resume. Some of the most common penalties used by match officials as part of American Football terminology are:
- Delay of Game (DOG) – not snapping the ball in the 30 seconds allowed for each play.
- Illegal Blocking (e.g. illegal block above the waist ‘IBW’)
- Roughing the Kicker/Passer (RRK and RPS) – touching the kicker while he is in kicking motion. Roughing the passer will be called if, in the Referee’s judgment, a pass rusher clearly should have known that the ball had already left the passer’s hand before contact was made; pass rushers are responsible for being aware of the position of the ball in passing situations;
- Encroachment (ENC) – occurs when, before the snap, a defensive player illegally crosses the line of scrimmage and makes contact with an opponent or has a clear path to the quarterback. Play is immediately stopped, just as it is with a false start.
- Facemask (15 yards ‘FMM’) – grabbing of the facemask
- Unnecessary Roughness (UNR) – pretty self-explanatory
I hope this helps break down the key elements to understanding football. Now go show off your knowledge babe!