Basic Rules of American Football

Basic Rules of American Football

Football is the most popular sport in America and, like any sport, it has its own rules and regulations to keep the game fair. Read on to learn all about the basic rules of American football.

The Objective

football objectives

The main objective of football is for the team on offense to get the ball into the end zone through either a catch or a running play without the team on defense preventing them. Teams score points through touchdowns, field goals, conversions, and safeties. The team with the most points at the end of four timed quarters is the winner.

Basics Rules

Below are the basic rules of American football:

  • There are two teams on the field.
  • One team plays offense and the other plays defense.
  • There are 11 players on the field per team.
  • The team that scores the most points by the end of the game wins.
  • The team on defense must stop the offense.
  • Teams can score by touchdowns, extra points, field goals, or safeties.

The Field and Equipment

Football Field

Football is played on a grass field that is 120 yards long and 53 ⅓ yards wide. The 100 yards in the middle is called the field of play and that’s where the offense and defense play for a majority of the game. The 10 yards on either side of the field are the end zones. At each end of the football field is a U-shaped goal post. Teams can score field goals by kicking the football in between the pillars of the goal post.

Football Uniforms

All football players must wear protective equipment while on the field. Certain pieces, like helmets, shoes, and shoulder pads are required for a player to be allowed onto the field. Other pieces, such as gloves, mouth guards, or jockstraps are often worn but not required for legal play.


Football 1st Down

The team on offense has four tries (called “downs”) to drive the ball ten yards forward. If the offense does not progress ten yards in four tries, they lose possession. When one team loses possession, the defense becomes the new offense and controls the ball while the other team must become the defense.


Football Scoring

There are four main ways of scoring in football, which either have to do with the ball entering the end zone or through the uprights. The ways of scoring are through:


Touchdowns occur when a player possesses the ball in the opposing team’s end zone, either receiving a pass or running into the end zone. Defensive touchdowns can occur if the ball is turned over and a defensive player is able to possess the ball in the end zone.

Extra Points

Touchdowns are always followed by extra points, where a team can either attempt a one-point kick or two-point conversion. An extra point kick is taken from the 33-yard line, and a two-point conversion is when the team successively runs or catches the ball into the end zone.

Field Goals

Instead of trying to run the ball, the team on offense can attempt to kick a field goal instead. This is usually attempted within 50 yards of the end zone but can be legally attempted at any time. If successful, the team scores three points and transfers possession of the ball.


Safeties occur when a ball carrier is tackled in their own end zone or when a foul is committed by the team on offense while in their own end zone. Either action results in the team on defense receiving two points.


What are the basic rules of football?

The most basic rule of football is that the team on offense has four chances to progress ten yards. If the team on defense is able to stop them from getting ten yards during those chances, they win possession of the ball and can try to progress toward their opponent’s end zone.