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Football Summary

How does the sport of football work? What is a short summary of the rules you need to know. Get ready for a short summary on the basics of football.

The Football Field

Football is played on a field that measures 120 yards long by 53 and 1/3 yards wide. The endzones take up 20 yards, 10 yards each, so many people say that the field is only 100 yards long. This is incorrect!


There are many components of a football field you should know:

Every time a team scores points it happens in the end zone. The end zones are 10 yards by 53 and 1/3 yards wide. The goal post is at the back of each end zone on the end line.


Next, yard lines run along the field of play helping players visualize the field and know where the ball is at all times.


An important yard line you should know is the 50-yard line. This is the middle of the field. Once you pass over the 50-yard line, you are in your opponent's territory. As you keep advancing, you will start getting to lower yard lines instead of higher yard lines.


Football Teams

Football is played between two teams of 11 players on the field of play. One team is always on offense while the other team is on defense. Teams take turns on offense and defense. Football is a special sport because even when a team is on defense, they can still score.


The Offense

The team on offense is the team with possession of the ball. While on offense, a team is trying to score points with touchdowns or field goals. The center, a player on the offensive line always starts with the ball at the beginning of every scrimmage down. When the quarterback yells "hike!", the center throws the ball through his legs to the quarterback to start the play. This is called the snap. The quarterback can pass the ball, hand it off to a running back, or run with it himself for a quarterback-sneak.


The Defense

The team without the ball is on defense. They are trying to get the ball back, so their team can be on offense. The defense gets the ball back by forcing turnovers. An example of a turnover is an interception, fumble, or turnover on downs. At the start of a down, defensive players drop into coverage or blitz the quarterback in hopes of a sack.

The defense can also force the offense to punt in order to get the ball back. This is the most common way that defenses get the ball back.



In football, all scoring happens in the end zones. Teams can score points with touchdowns, field goals, and safeties.

A touchdown is worth six points and happens when a team brings the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Additional points can be earned after a touchdown by kicking the ball through the uprights for one point, or bringing the ball into the end zone again for two points. These extra points are called the try.

Field goals are worth three points and happen when a kicker kicks the ball through the goal post. Field goals can be kicked from anywhere on the field, though teams should only try a field goal if they're within field goal range.

A safety gives the defense two points and happens when teams make a mistake with the ball in their own end zone. After a safety, the defense also gets the ball back. This is the only way for a team to automatically get the ball back after they score.

General Rules

Football is played over four 15 quarters of game time in regulation. If the score is tied at the end of the 4th quarter, additional quarters of game time called overtime are played to determine the winning team. Teams change possession of the ball after scores, turnovers, and at the start of each half. The offense has four scrimmage downs to advance the ball 10 yards down the field. If they fail to reach the first down line, then they must give the ball to the other team for a turnover on downs. Another unit of players called the special teams performs all kicks and returns in football. The special teams is responsible for kickoffs, extra points, field goals, and punts.

Learn More About Football

If you want to learn more about the basics of football, read the following tutorials:

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